Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remained sedated and in serious but stable condition at a Boston hospital Sunday, under heavy police guard as investigators prepared to interrogate him about his involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing that shocked the nation.
While officials are eager to question Tsarnaev, a throat injury prevents them from doing so for now.
“We don’t know if we’ll ever be able to question the individual,” Boston Mayor Tom Menino said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.
Authorities have not publicly detailed the injuries he sustained, but they are reported to include gunshot wounds to his neck and leg. An official who had been briefed said Tsarnaev has been “intubated and sedated,” CNN reported.
“I, and I think all of the law enforcement professionals, are hoping for a host of reasons that the suspect survives, because we have a million questions, and those questions need to be answered,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told reporters Saturday. “There are parts of the investigation, in terms of information and evidence, that still needs to be run to ground.”
Tsarnaev had been captured Friday night after 24 hours on the run, a period that saw violent confrontations with police – one of which resulted in the death of Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamarlan Tsarnaev – while the Boston area remained locked down.
Officials are operating under the presumption that information Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has relates to ongoing public safety – their justification for proceeding with initial interrogation without issuing him the usual Miranda warning, which guarantees the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
The American Civil Liberties Union and a federal public defender have raised concerns about investigators’ plan to question Tsarnaev this way.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said the legal exception applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is “not an open-ended exception” to the Miranda rule, reports the Associated Press.
Among other things, officials want to know if anyone else was involved in the two bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday, which killed three people and injured more than 180, many of them seriously. Was the older Tsarnaev brother – believed to be the leader in preparing for and carrying out the attack – in touch with or aided by Islamic radicals here or abroad?
The two ethnically Chechen brothers may have been readying for a second attack at the time of the shootout, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told CBS.
So far, evidence suggests that the two brothers acted alone in the bombings and subsequent shootout, Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau told CNN. (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a boat parked in the Boston suburb of Watertown.)
“From what I know right now, these two acted together and alone,” Chief Deveau said. “I think we have to be ever vigilant, and we’re learning as we go along, but as far as this little cell – this little group – think we got our guys.”
Boston Mayor Menino agrees.
“All of the information that I have they [is that] acted alone,” he said on ABC.
Meanwhile, officials – and lawmakers with oversight on intelligence issues – want to know why earlier warnings of Tamarlan Tsarnaev’s increasing radicalization somehow failed to result in more adequate follow-up.
As Monitor Moscow correspondent Fred Weir reports, Russian officials warned the US about Tamarlan Tsarnaev in 2011. When Tamarlan Tsarnaev returned from a six-month stay in Russia the next year, US officials questioned him and his family but determined that he was not a threat.
“The FBI had this guy on the radar and somehow he fell off,” a congressional aide, who said oversight committees on Capitol Hill are seeking answers from counterterrorism officials, told the Boston Globe. “We heard for several days leading up to this there was no intelligence. Now we know there could have been intelligence.”