Given how details of what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told authorities from his hospital bed have leaked out through the media in drips and drabs this week, you might get the impression that the 19-year-old Boston bombing suspect is still cooperating with police. According to a new report from the Associated Press, you'd be wrong:
The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings acknowledged to the FBI his role in the attacks but did so before he was advised of his constitutional right to keep quiet and seek a lawyer, U.S. officials said Wednesday. Once Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was read his rights on Monday, he immediately stopped talking, according to four officials of both political parties who were briefed on the interrogation but insisted on anonymity because the briefing was private.
After roughly 16 hours of questioning, investigators were surprised when a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney's office entered the hospital room and read Tsarnaev his rights, the four officials and one law enforcement official said. Investigators had planned to keep questioning him.
Given what appears to be a bounty of evidence against the Tsarnaev brothers, the FBI says the time frame of Dzhokhar's confession won't matter. They say between the physical and photographic evidence they have from the Boston Marathon crime scene, and what they collected from the violent manhunt that followed, they have more than enough to convict. Still, assuming the AP's sources are correct, the revelation about when Dzhokhar spoke to police, and when he didn't, will provide a heavy dose of fuel to the ongoing debate on Capitol Hill (and cable news channels) about whether domestic terrorism suspects should be read their Miranda rights.
Police took the younger Tsarnaev brother into custody last Friday after a prolonged manhunt that spanned large swaths of suburban Boston. Authorities—citing what is known as the "public safety exception"—waited more than two days to read Dzhokhar his Miranda rights. (Although, to be clear, he always had those rights, it was just a question of whether police reminded him of them.) According to reports, investigators were able to use what Dzhokhar told them in the original interviews to come to the preliminary conclusion that he and his brother acted alone, and likely have no ties to any major terror groups.
For more on the Miranda debate, check out Emily Bazelon's piece on the topic from last weekend, which has the legal history behind the law and argues: "When the law gets bent out of shape for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it’s easier to bend out of shape for the rest of us."