Boston Marathon bombings: Unanswered questions

There are a lot of unanswered questions in Boston. The FBI is not providing much information. The hospital where the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,  is being treated won’t give his condition,citing an FBI prohibition; all media requests to the hospital are referred to the FBI. [Update: Early this afternoon the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts said on Twitter that the suspect’s condition is “fair,” and noted in the tweet that it was releasing this information at the request of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical  Center.] Some politicians have said he’s in serious but stable condition, and the charging document states that he has gunshot wounds to his head, neck, legs and hand. There are media reports based on anonymous sources that he shot himself while police closed in, but that may be another example of information that will evaporate in a day or two. I’m waiting for an official, medically precise description of his injuries. I’ve never heard of a case in which the condition of a suspect has remained undisclosed due to an ongoing criminal investigation.

This case has so many unknowns, and I don’t mean just the obvious unknowns of whether they had accomplices, and why they did what they did, and who might have inspired them, and whether they had funding from some terror organization. Those are obviously huge issues But some really basic data points are missing so far. Here’s my partial list as of 7:41 a.m. Tuesday, and forgive me if I’ve just missed some of the answers over the last few days.

  1. What guns did they have? Where and when did they buy them?
  2. Do authorities have their computers? Their cellphones? Have authorities reviewed Internet histories and cellphone accounts?
  3. Where did they make the bombs? (This question from Mudge in the Boodle.) Has the workshop been found? What was the brand of pressure cooker and where did they buy them? (Or did they order them online?)
  4. What was Tamerlan Tsarnaev doing for three days after the bombing and before he and his brother made a run for it? (We know that Dzhokhar was hanging out at college as if nothing had happened.)
  5. Did any of their friends know they harbored violent thoughts?
  6. Did Tamerlan’s wife know he was violent? Did the wife’s family know he was violent?
  7. Did the university know that Dzhokhar was potentially violent?
  8. Who was the driver of the carjacked Mercedes?
  9. What was the precise cause of death for Tamerlan? Gunshot? Explosion? Blunt trauma from being run over by his brother during the getaway?
  10. Why didn’t the police set up a larger perimeter on Friday?(Dzhokhar was hiding a block outside the 20-block perimeter, having fled on foot.)
  11. Has anyone reviewed security camera video tape from last year’s marathon to see if the bombers staked out the finish line, or were accompanied by anyone else? Did anyone review tape from the Red Sox game earlier on Monday, or from cameras at other high-profile locations that the bombers may have scoped out before they went to the marathon?
  12. Were they planning on getting away with it, and resuming their “normal” lives, or did they have an Act 2 in the works? What were they going to do with the other bombs? Why didn’t they get in a car and hit the road and drive to Mexico after the Monday bombings? Why didn’t they have cash before Thursday night — were they just making this up as they went along? What were they thinking?

And you can add your own questions to that list. [From Mother Jones, more questions.]

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."

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