by Cheryl Dean
Dear Madam Attorney General,
Myself and many others ask you to modify the Special Administration Measures that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been living under for the past 22 months. We are advocating for him: he has been silenced, and is not allowed to speak for himself. We ask that Dzhokhar be allowed to communicate by phone and mail, and have visits from any of his relatives.
The Special Administrative Measures requested by Carmen Ortiz clearly violate the First Amendment rights of Dzhokhar. All citizens have the right to freedom of speech. That would have to include speaking to all one’s own family members, and without the FBI monitoring and recording everything that is said.
His parents can speak to him twice a month for only 15 minutes, although not about his case, or much else, while being monitored live, being recorded by an FBI agent. Is that necessary? Why? Is someone trying to hide something? There is something terribly wrong with this.
The SAM’s also violate this young man’s Eighth Amendment rights. This amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. We don’t believe that any compassionate, decent, or moral human being would think the SAM’s are not extremely cruel.
Incarcerating someone for a crime is one thing, but then silencing them forever, in a small cement room, never to be seen or heard from again until you kill them, is very cruel and unusual.
According to the Department of Justice:
“The Attorney General may authorize the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to implement “special administrative measures” upon written notification to BOP:
#1. “that there is a substantial risk that a prisoner’s communications or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons, or substantial damage to property that would entail the risk of death or serious bodily injury to persons.” And
#2. to prevent the disclosure of classified information …..”.
The second SAM can be requested by “a member agency of the intelligence community.”
The above are the only two lawful reasons to implement special Administrative measures, and they must be warranted and justified.
He Gets Friendly Mail
Yet, the US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the FBI, in asking for the SAM’s, invoked reason #1, stated that Dzhokhar had received over 1000 letters (which he had no control over, never asked for and never replied to). Note: All mail was/is screened under ordinary BOP procedures and was deemed acceptable to be given to Dzhokhar!
The defense team, in its motion # 110, stated that the majority of those letters were from people who believe Dzhokhar is innocent, or were trying to convert him to Christianity, and people who were praying for him. Not a single letter from anyone threatening harm to the US.
Another reason was that Dzhokhar’s mother had recorded the first phone call she had received from Dzhokhar and someone shared it with media, allegedly garnering sympathy for her son. Is this a criminal offense now, or a reason to silence Dzhokhar?
Even if sympathy was gained for her son, it only shows that some people, thankfully, still possess humanity and can have compassion for a severely injured 19 year old, suffering immensely at the hands of the US government.
This phone call seemed to be a slap in the face for Carmen Ortiz, who had tried hard and already succeeded at demonizing and cementing the guilt of this young defendant almost immediately. “Innocent until proven guilty” never applied in this case. The government wanted no one in the world to question their official narrative.
I quote the ACLU in their amicus curiae dated November 5, 2013:
“In applying for the SAM’s and in opposing Tsarnaev’s motion, the government mentions that Tsarnaev’s mother might have sought sympathy by releasing to the media portions of a recorded call with Tsarnaev, and that two magazine articles have been written about him. These facts have little bearing on whether Tsarnaev will attempt to spread concrete, actionable messages”.
Carmen Ortiz has punished him for this, something once again that he had no control over, and which did no harm at all.
Dzhokhar’s mother only wanted the world to know that her son was indeed alive and now was able to speak and was now physically able to go to the prison office where he could call his parents, as FBI agents listened and recorded the call.
According to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, and the FBI:
“On or about April 22, 2013, following his capture, Tsarnaev was ‘interviewed’ by FBI. During this ‘interview’ Tsarnaev reaffirmed his commitment to jihad and expressed hope that his actions would inspire others to engage in violent jihad. There is no indication that Tsarnaev’s intentions have changed since”.
Dzhokhar was severely injured. He was in critical condition after being shot by law enforcement, while unarmed in the boat, with 16 bullet wounds, intubated, jaw wired shut, left eye sutured closed, a basal skull fracture involving his C1 and C3 vertebrae, medicated, having multiple surgeries, traumatized, and sleep deprived.
In this condition, and shackled to his bed, he was interrogated for 2 days by the FBI and a Guantanamo high value detainee interrogation team.
The alleged hospital interrogation-confession made by Dzhokhar — and threat of further destruction and call to jihad — was never recorded by audio or video, and no reports were shown in court or admitted as evidence, so his jihad ideas are nothing but hearsay.
We saw only a small section of notes allegedly written by Dzhokhar. These were pleading to please let him sleep, and asking for a lawyer.
His College Buddies
According to Carmen Ortiz and the FBI:
“On May 3, 2013 FBI arrested 3 ‘associates’ of Tsarnaev for their involvement, at Tsarnaev’s behest, in attempting to destroy evidence and obstruct the government’s investigation. The FBI continues to investigate whether additional ‘accomplices’ remain at large”.
The three so-called associates were simply friends of Dzhokhar’s. These friends had absolutely no knowledge or involvement in the marathon bombing as stated by the FBI. They didn’t even believe that their friend Dzhokhar, could possibly be involved. They were in shock.
Dzhokhar texted one of the friends and said,
“you can go to my room and take what’s there”,
meaning, you can go get my weed/marijuana. The friends then went to his room to do that.
They decided to take a few other things, like a backpack with leftover fireworks which they had all been using a few weeks earlier, near the Charles River.
They also took his laptop, which was in plain sight in the two friends’ apartment, not thrown away or hidden. Whatever they took or did, once again, Dzhokhar had no knowledge of or control over.
As for the FBI investigating whether additional ‘accomplices’ remain at large, the FBI and media have stated many times that the brothers were ‘lone wolves’.
He will Cause Severe Bodily Injury?????
Carmen Ortiz also believes that owing to Dzhokhar’s crimes, there is a substantial risk that his communications or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to others. There is not the slightest evidence or basis for this.
To this we say, what is incarceration for, if not to stop people from committing more crimes? Other prisoners do not have SAM’s imposed. The only person who is at risk of serious bodily injury or death here is Dzhokhar himself!
If being incarcerated in a notoriously brutal maximum security federal prison, in solitary confinement, being monitored 24 hours a day, isn’t enough to stop a threat to public safety, then nothing would ever be enough.
Dzhokhar is a Muslim but that does not make him a terrorist. We as Christians may go to church, or hang a crucifix in our homes, and love to decorate our Christmas trees — but for us it’s called devotion and faith. Anyway, Dzhokhar is no “religious threat”.
Did US Attorney General Eric Holder examine these reasons and prove that there was justification? No. They are all unwarranted and unjustified.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch
I can’t understand how the government — no matter what a human being may have done — can inflict such cruel and unusual punishment on another human being, especially when the SAM’s are not warranted. An animal or prisoner of war has a better existence than those who are incarcerated under these conditions.
For a human being, is it excessive comfort to be able to make and receive phone calls, or to write letters and receive mail and visits from loved ones, and without an FBI agent, while languishing on death row?
You, Madam, have been blessed to achieve such an extremely powerful position. You have the power to make the world a better place for so many American citizens. You, as the head of the United States justice system can modify or discontinue the Special Administrative Measures if you determine they are not warranted.
Please do your job and examine this, and show justice. Modify the SAM’s for Dzhokhar, so he can stay in touch with his whole family that loves him very much. Remember, every person is created in the divine image of God and should be treated as such. We await your decision.
— Cheryl Dean and a group of friends are working hard to prevent the death of young Mr Tsarnaev.