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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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FBI Keeps Mum on Official Killing

BOSTON (CN) - The ACLU claims the FBI and Massachusetts refuse to release information about their interview with a man about his relationship with the Boston Marathon bombers - an interview that ended with the man being shot to death in his home.

The ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts sued the FBI and Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, in Federal Court.

In addition to learning more about the death of Ibragim Todashev - who was killed in his Florida home while being questioned about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings - the ACLU says it wants to find out how many investigations have been carried out by the FBI field office in Boston, and about the function and authority of the Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

"The federal government's collaboration with Massachusetts state and local police, especially through the JTTF, has for years been shrouded in secrecy," the complaint says.

According to the FBI, JTTFs are run out of the agency's field offices and conduct investigations, with local agencies, into actual or potential terrorist threats. The Massachusetts JTTF conducts hundreds of investigations every year.

"Yet little is known about their structure and function," the ACLU says. "For example, there is no publicly available list of agencies that participate in the Massachusetts JTTF, and it is unclear what protocols and chain of authority govern local police officers when they work with this federal task force."

The shooting of Todashev is a prime example of the FBI and JTTF's lack of transparency, the ACLU claims: after the killing, a 16-page report released by the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division "disclosed only one document: a drawing of the first floor of Todashev's apartment."

According to the complaint, "Todashev was shot and killed in his Florida home while being interviewed by a Boston-based FBI agent and two Massachusetts State Troopers, one of whom may have been assigned to the JTTF."

The ACLU says there are conflicting reports on whether Todashev was armed at the time, and while "recently released reports by the U.S. Department of Justice and the State Attorney for Florida's Ninth Circuit have provided some new information ... they leave many questions unanswered, including:

"Why did the officers fail to abide by their collective decision to keep three officers in the room at all times?

"Why did no one canvass Todashev's neighbors until more than six months after the shooting?

"Why was the Florida investigator prevented from talking to the FBI agent?"

The ACLU says the defendants blew off its December 2013 FOIA requests for documents on the structure of the JTTF, FBI investigations conducted by the Boston office, and details of Todashev's death.

The ACLU wants to see the record.

It is represented by Laura Deck with Proskauer Rose in Boston.

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