Tuesday, April 30, 2013

TOP STORY >> Cruelest Month

Leader editor

The FBI is hoping it can recover from two fumbles in April — letting the two Chechen terrorists out of its sight in Boston and apparently fingering the wrong man in the Mississippi ricin case.

The characters in both cases have a lot in common: The suspects were underemployed men who lived on the margins of society. The Tsarnaev brothers, after immigrating to the U.S., found the American dream elusive and may have survived on drug dealing and shoplifting.

The older of the two, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, is believed to have been a serious dealer and should have been arrested years ago.

He appears drugged in the videos released at the Boston Marathon. It may also explain the rampage after the bombing — killing a police officer, wounding another and carjacking an SUV and its driver, who escaped before Tsarnaev could shoot him.

His kid brother, Dzhokhar, 19, is said to be a dedicated pothead. He ran over his wounded brother in a police ambush. Tamerlan died later that night, while Dzhokhar was apprehended the next evening hiding out in a boat.

Tamerlan’s autopsy report might shed some light on his drug habits, as should blood samples from Dzhokhar while he recovers in his jail cell.

Selling drugs and shoplifting kept the brothers afloat. They were college dropouts, unlike the young Chinese graduate student they blew up at the marathon and the young Chinese-American entrepreneur they kidnapped in his SUV.

No one would mistake the Tsarnaevs for hardworking immigrants like those Korean shop owners, Thai restaurateurs and Hispanic workers who landscape, work in restaurants and drive food trucks all week long.

The ricin case was another embarrassment for the FBI, which arrested an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis of Tupelo, Miss., who was accused of sending poisonous mail to President Obama and others.

He was released a few days after his arrest when no evidence was found against him. He claimed he was framed by a local rival named Everett Dutschke, who was arrested over the weekend.

A tip to the FBI: Elvis impersonators can be eccentric but are harmless. Curtis did have an obsession with body parts at the local hospital, which he said was harvesting them for profit.

Dutschke, who ran an unsuccessful Taekwondo studio, refused to publicize Curtis’ accusations in a local newsletter Dutschke published. It’s a very southern story right out of Flannery O’Connor.

The FBI now says Dutschke framed Curtis by signing the poisonous letters to look like Curtis’ online postings: “I am KC and I approved this message.” But if using your enemy’s initials is enough to get one arrested in this country, law-enforcement has some explaining to do, along with the failure to catch the Tsarnaevs before it was too late.