Boston Marathon Bombing

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Charged With Using and Conspiring to Use a Weapon of Mass Destruction

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Law Enforcement

The FBI has released its criminal complaint against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In addition to the charges, the affidavit includes a brief timeline tracing Dzhokhar and his brother Tamerlan's placement of the bombs and the carjacking they conducted immediately afterward. 

Here are the charges. You can read the full criminal complaint below: 

I submit this affidavit in support of an application for a complaint charging DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV with (I) unlawfully using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device) against persons and property within the United States used in interstate and foreign commerce and in an activity that affects interstate and foreign commerce, which offense and its results affected interstate and foreign commerce (including, but not limited to, the Boston Marathon, private businesses in Eastern Massachusetts, and the City of Boston itself), resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a; and (2) maliciously damaging and destroying, by means of an explosive, real and personal property used in interstate and foreign commerce and in an activity aJJecting interstate and foreign commerce, resulting in personal injury and death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i).

Criminal complaint against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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  1. This is fucking ridiculous.

    A fucking glorified pipe bomb is no a WMD, and this kind of sensationalism isn’t helping anyone (except my our Security Complex).

    1. What did they charge McVeigh with?

      1. Being a rat-bagging tez fucker.

        AND blowing up a building and killing some people.

        1. Yes, I seem to recall he was charged with a federal crime that led to his execution. Can’t remember what it was, though.

          1. Count 1 — Conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
            G U I L T Y

            Count 2 — Use of a weapon of mass destruction.
            G U I L T Y

            Count 3 — Destruction by explosive of government property.
            G U I L T Y

            Counts 4 -11 — First degree murder for each of eight federal agents killed in the explosion.
            G U I L T Y

            1. Not first degree murder for everyone killed in that blast?

              1. Those were state crimes.

                1. Am I wrong in recalling him being federally executed, then?

                  1. On August 10, 1995, McVeigh was indicted on 11 federal counts, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, use of a weapon of mass destruction, destruction by explosives and eight counts of first-degree murder.[53]

                    Says here federal. It could be that he targeted the US gov rather than just proles.

                    1. As I note below, one of the legacies of the Kennedy assassination was that the murder of various federal officials became federal crimes.

                      The WMD stuff came later after several domestic bomb plots, IIANM.

              2. Little people, Paul, little people.

                1. No, ProL, there is no federal law against simple murder; that’s the purview of the states.

                  1. Wrong. Murder is a crime under federal statutes as well as state ones.

          2. Slightly different than the ones they’re ringing Joker up for, but not really. Basically the same crime: WMD explosive against something. For McVeigh, a federal building; for Joker, an activity affecting interstate commerce.

            Plus McVeigh had 8 dead federal officers on his score sheet, and evidently that’s a federal crime too.

            1. See my post above.

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      2. What did they charge Ted Kaczynski with?

        (BTW, Kaczynski is in the Chrome dictionary, as no red line appeared under it when I typed it.)

        1. Illegally mailing bombs.

        2. Possession of murderous beard lice?

          1. Would it be mail fraud to claim your mailed package has a bomb in it but be lying?

    2. According to Title 18 ? 2332a, *any* bomb is considered a wmd.

      Ridiculous indeed.

      1. Hell, according to 18 USC Sec 2332, which incorporates 18 USC Sec 921, and rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces (a bottle rocket?) and a large bore rifle are weapons of mass destruction.

        1. That should be, “any rocket.”

    3. So Bush was right…Saddam Hussain DID have weapons of mass destruction!

      1. By the tens of thousands probably.

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  2. I suppose a bomb in a public place is technically a WMD, but that is stretching it a bit.

    In 2003, most people assumed that Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD were a little more substantial.

    1. No it is not.

      WMD specifically means weapons beyond the scale of those typically used in conventional warfare capable of causing large scale loss of life or destruction of the environment.

      Basically, Nukes, Chemical, Biological, and large Thermobaric bombs, a couple of pounds of gunpowder in a pressure cooker does not qualify as a WMD under any useful definition of the term.

      The only way this makes sense is if they have some evidence that he wanted to make it a Chemical or dirty nuke bomb.

    2. IIRC, the definition of WMD under criminal law (applies to individuals) is different the definition of WMD in international law (applies to nations and heads of state).

      1. I knew I needed my own country for some damn reason.

        1. CAn I come visit you when you get your country? I’ll bring gingersnaps…

          1. I can beat that: Chocolate Cake!

          2. I brew a kickass IPA

  3. So George Zimmerman gets charged with murder, and this guy doesn’t?

    What a weird fucking country this has turned into.

    1. I think the murder charges are left to the State, but I could be wrong.

      1. Generally speaking, yes, murder is a state crime. When the feds prosecute someone for “murder”, the charges are usually constructed as a ‘violation of civil rights’ or some such thing.

        1. There is also murder of various federal officers. This is an artifact of the Kennedy assassination.

          At that time the only charge Lee Oswald faced was murder under the laws of Texas.

          1. At that time the only charge Lee Oswald faced was murder under the laws of Texas.

            Given that TX had the death penalty, then and now, you’d think that would have been enough, but no, we’ve got to have special federal laws for the murder of kings, nobility, and officers of the crown.

        2. Yes, murder is a state crime. There are no federal laws against simple murder; there is a federal law against murdering federal agents.

          Now, if Mr. Doe murders federal Agent Smith the feds could charge and try him for murdering a federal agent; then the state in which the murder occurred could charge and try him for the murder of Mr. Smith.

    2. I think the logic is that Massachusetts doesn’t have the death penalty, so it’s got to be a federal charge. I don’t believe there’s a federal murder statute, so they’ve got to find something to charge him with.

      1. I’m pretty sure the feds have pretty much preempted any prosecutions to do with terrorism.

        Of course, terrorism seems to be awfully elastic these days but I’m not sure that what these boys did doesn’t fit my own fairly narrow definition.

        1. If this had been two white nihilists, different charge?

          1. They are two white nihilists. That they couch nihilism in the dressing of “Islam” doesn’t make it any less nihilism.

        2. As with Boyd and Malvo the feds will have first crack, then the state can also charge and try them.

          1. No double jeopardy for state and federal charges, either, even if they’re for, essentially, the same crime.

            1. Yes, thanks for adding that.

  4. According to here, a WMD is a “Destructive Device”, defined here has:

    (4) The term “destructive device” means?
    (A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas?
    (i) bomb,
    (ii) grenade,
    (iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
    (iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,
    (v) mine, or
    (vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;
    (B) any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell which the Attorney General finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes) by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter; and
    (C) any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into any destructive device described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.

    Now as for the definition of bomb, I’ll leave that for someone else to lookup.

    1. So a sawed-off shotgun is a WMD? Stay classy, federal government.

      1. No, a sawed off shotgun is a “Short Barreled Shotgun,” regated under the NFA separately from “Destructive Devices.”

        The bit about certain shotguns being DDs was put in their specifically to allow ATF to classify the “Street Sweeper” as a Destructive device. It was an entirely political move, one of the early attempts at getting “assault weapons” “off our streets.”

    2. A WMD is a destructive device, but not all destructive devices are WMD. There should be a better definition in the code of WMD than the ATF’s old rules on DDs. By this definition a model rocket with some M-80s is a WMD.

    3. Some old-timey muskets are WMD’s under (B).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleville_musket

      Who knew?

      1. Don’t give Feinstein any ideas!

      2. impressive – 60 year run on that musket.

    4. I’ve had potato guns that fit that definition.

      Fucking destroying the meaning of language is what they’re doing. It’s intentional as far as I’m concerned. They could apply their damn definitions to just about anyone to get a terrorism or WMD charge.

    5. (iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,

      Huh, I launched rockets in college that had more than 4 ounces of propellant. I guess that makes me a terrorist.

  5. …interstate and foreign commerce…

    Seriously?

    The Constitution is quite able to support federal action with regard to acts of war, rebellion, or insurrection. The Feds are so pathetically reliant on the interstate commerce clause that they use it for an act of terror?

    Of course, if it turns out that there is no motive of attacking or offending the US qua the US, then this should be remanded to state prosecution as simple mayhem.

    1. That wouldn’t allow the feds to grandstand.

  6. Holy Commerce Clause, Batman!

    Any reason this should not be charged at the local level?

    1. Massachusetts doesn’t have a death penalty.

      1. Any good reasons?

        1. Nope!

        2. Do you want the people trying to disarm you to be able to kill you even after the cops botch the job?

        3. Big scary crime is big and scary.

      2. Which is why the Federal prosecution seems unnecessary. These crimes took place entirely within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who have expressed a desire through their elected officials not to have a death penalty under any circumstances. It seems like the Feds should honor that desire.

        1. It seems like the Feds should honor that desire.

          BWAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    2. Federal charges don’t exclude state charges.

  7. Why does it matter that his actions had an effect on interstate and foreign commerce? Because fuck Federalism, that’s why.

  8. The Boston Marathon is interstate commerce?!?

    That’s some hysterically funny crap there!

    Let’s imagine an alternative scenario. Tarran the rapist is heavily armed, watching the marathon, and realizes that Det Harry “the Snapper” Organs is closing in on him. He whips out his little Uzi, and demonstrating the marksmanship worthy of a cop, shoots the detective, a bunch of bystanders, a runner or two, and a pure-bred Guernsey cow that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    In the end, there are 6 dead, 50 wounded, and the cow’s market value has plunged to 0.

    The end of the race now being a crime scene, it is terminated early.

    Would I be facing federal terrorism charges then? 😉

    1. Depends. I’m not seeing anything there that would invoke federal jurisdiction, but IANAL.

  9. So Saddam really did have WMDs in Iraq?

    1. According to US criminal law (which wasn’t applicable to him), yes; according to international law, not so much.

      1. actually, he did have WMD. What he didn’t have were WMDs that were *undeclared and/or not “under the seal of the UN”*. The US quietly exported a bunch of WMD-paraphanalia, and disposed of some chemical warfare agents during the first few months of the war.

        1. e.g: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/2554…..XWQdaCtFQk

          (re: paraphanalia)

          I can’t so easily find stories about the US destroying the (declared) chemical stockpiles at one (former) iraqi base.

  10. The Commerce Clause, there is NOTHING it can’t do.

    Well, this experiment with a Constitutional Republic has been fun, folks. Maybe we can try it again in a few hundred years or so.

  11. It feels like I went back in time, back to the Bush era

    Mind of well blend into the times….where’s my muslim-stabbing stick and terrorist hunter license bumper sticker?

  12. This really cheapens the definition of WMD. If I were a Nork I’d be pretty pissed off.. all that time and money spent getting nukes when they could have just put some pressure cookers with bb’s ontop of their NoDongs.

    And Mama always warned me about violating the commerce clause…

  13. A Weapon of Mass Destruction? I thought term only applied to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Is this another case of a term being watered down to the point where soon it will have no meaning?

    Oh, and also fuck the fucking squirrels. I keep having ot reload the page before being able to post comments, and the site is slow as fuck.

    1. lay off the squirrels. What have they done to you lately?

      1. Ate a multitude of our comments. “A” material. Always the best ones go down.

        1. mother of god….hey have evolved from just eating sunflower seeds

          declare martial law NOW!!!!

    2. Are you using Android? This site is becoming nigh unusable for me on Android. I have to keep killing my browser because some BS script o the reason site blows up the memory usage and generally stops anything on any web site from working.

      1. Also on IE (work computer so I can’t do nice things like run Firefox w/ NoScript).

        1. Why do you work someplace that treats you so badly Brett?

        2. Same here. On work computer with IE. If I want to get Firefox I have to go through a tedious process to get it. So instead I just impotently bitch and moan. It’s the libertarian way.

  14. Campus police officer killed. Universities are lousy with federal money. Therefore, commerce clause.

    1. Hmmm… you might just have a future at DoJ with right thinking like that!

      1. I know, right? It’s like I took Constitutional Law from Nancy Pelosi!

  15. Couldn’t they just pass a death penalty law between arrest and indictment?

    1. Well, it would be unconstitutional, as if that matters anymore.

      1. I’m unclear. The crime of murder exists today, so it would not be an ex post facto prosecution. The penalty for conviction would have changed after the commission but before the indictment.

        1. That’s a terrible precedent to set and civil libertarians should rightly oppose it.

          1. As opposed to federalizing the crime through bullshit?

            1. uhhh you can oppose both. Read the thread, no one here is cheerleading this BS.

        2. Lawmakers are generally loathe to make laws retroactive. Sets a dangerous precedent that could one day be used against them.

          1. Like sex offender registries?

  16. good news! Bush was right! Saddam did have WMD.

    1. shit i’m really late to this party.

  17. so simple home made bombs are now considered a weapon of mass destruction. This I believe is correct but then doesn’t that mean that Bush’s reasons for invading Iraq were accurate since the place had plenty of bombs. I can’t wait for the next lib to claim they never found any WMD in Iraq.

  18. CCTW: the new FYTW. Just as dismissive, yet even more insulting to the intelligence.

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  20. Im not exactly sure what the definition of WMD is – at least the legal one, but it seems ‘reasonable’ that if it can kill 3 people and injure over 170, that’s pretty “mass destruction’y”

    But again, I have no idea the LEGAL DEFINITION. It hasn’t come up as something I’ve needed to know, but maybe some expert here can explain it to us

    1. How does that seem reasonable? First, there were two bombs, so your above figures are subtly inflated — if they’d planted and triggered 30 hand grenades, this would also be WMD? Or wouldn’t be? You don’t need a legal expert, unless you want a legal definition — but that could only show it to be a meaningless distinction, since if you’re just going to accept whatever a legislator says, you must be prepared to accept that a wrist rocket would be a WMD.

      The point is that WMD as a term has a generally-accepted connotation, regardless of any legal definition, which you’ll most likely find to include nuke, chemical, and biological weapons, if you ask a majority of people. And were that not the case, then what exactly is it that the US is dropping on people in the wars it is and has been prosecuting? I highly doubt you’d find anyone in the govt or military who’d like to have what they do legally characterized as “using WMD.” That is what makes its use here disingenuous.

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