AUTHOR Bookworm Sometimes we report on the news. And sometimes we report on the news about the news. Ever since a police officer was murdered at MIT, the prevailing narrative has been that the Tsarnaev brothers committed the Boston bombing. In the last week or so, however, a counter narrative, helped along by Alex Jones’ InfoWars, has been developing.This alternative narrative contends that there are holes in the existing evidence, or that there is unaddressed evidence, all of which points to an as-yet-unidentified culprit (or culprits). The Tsarnaev brothers have been fingered, theorists say, because they are at the heart of a government conspiracy or because the cops did shoddy police and don’t want to admit it.These theories are possible, but the real question is whether they’re probable. Failing that, they fall into the realm of all conspiracy theories: random dots, connected by invisible lines, with the only real evidence being the absence of evidence.It’s useful, before looking at the alternative view, to assemble what we know with reasonable certainty about the Boston bombing and its aftermath.The Tsarnaev brother’s mother, Zubeidat, says it was a fake, done with paint. I doubt many of us agree with her so, for purposes of this analysis, we’ll accept as true that it really happened, that three people really died, and that dozens of others were wounded, with the most severe wounds being lost limbs and brain damage. We know that there was a tremendous amount of video and photographic evidence, some of which showed people carrying bulky backpacks. Theoretically, any of these backpacks could have held the bomb. We know that, when bombing victim Jeff Bauman awakened, he said that, within less than two minutes of the bomb going off, he saw someone give him a peculiar look, drop the backpack, and vanish into the crowd. Relying on this information, the FBI stopped scanning thousands of images and focused, instead, solely on backpack-carrying people within the right distance from Jeff Bauman – and it was this information that led to the footage of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.We know that, a short time after the Tsarnaev brothers’ images went public, Sean Collier was shot to death on the MIT campus.We know that after Colliers’ murder, two men carjacked a man, that the carjack victim contends that the two men identified themselves to him as the Boston bombers, and that the carjackers headed for Watertown, Massachusetts.We know that at some point after the carjacking, the police intercepted the car with the two men and lots of shots were fired. One of the men, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, did not survive the experience. There are conflicting theories about whether he died from gun shots or from being hit by a car (and, if the latter, there are conflicting theories about whether his brother or the police hit him), but we’re pretty sure that Tamerlan was dead at the end of it all.We know that Dzokhar Tsarnaev, rather than surrendering, vanished, only to be found later hiding in a dry-docked boat. And we know that he was wounded in the throat.As for particulars about the brothers, we’ve learned that they were Chechen Muslims; that Tamerlan had become increasingly devout when it came to his religion; that Tamerlan had a felony conviction for assault; that Tamerlan and his mother, Zubeidat, were both getting welfare and on a terrorist watch list; and that Zubeidat has cried out “Allahu Akbar,” which literally means “Allah is great,” but which also precedes a great many terrorist attacks.Conspiracy theory number one contends that the Watertown shoot-out was actually a cold-blooded murder aimed at destroying the Tsarnaev brothers. Exhibit A is a video/audio combination that allegedly reveals that (a) only the police fired shots and (b) the Tsarnaevs were alternately crying “chill out” or “we didn’t do it.” You need to listen to the video (below) to determine whether that’s what you hear.We were unable to discern those phrases. Even if we could have discerned them, their evidentiary weight is suspect. Probably 90% of the occupants in American prisons have stated “I didn’t do it.” Some actually didn’t, but most did. We also couldn’t tell the direction of the shots, in significant part because we don’t know where the video recorder was when this was filmed.And it’s that lack of knowledge that raises the most important question of all about this video: we don’t have any assurance that the video is what it purports to be. For all we know, it could be entirely faked or merely doctored. Either would make it meaningless because it could then neither prove nor disprove that the shootout was a murderous police rampage, rather than a fierce gun battle with mass murderers.Video and audio allegedly of the Watertown shootout:Absent further evidence, that video simply isn’t compelling proof that the Tsarnaev brothers were declaring their innocence.A second theory arises from a 12-second statement that George Bush made when ABC’s Diane Sawyer interviewed him and Laura Bush not long after the Boston bombing. In the snippet that has attracted attention, Diane Sawyer asks Bush whether the Boston bomb took him back to 9/11. George Bush has this to say:Well, at first, ah, you know I was deeply concerned, uh, that, um, there might have been a [sic] organized plot. I don’t know all the facts. I don’t think we know all the facts, but I was deeply concerned that, uh, this could have been, um, uh, you know another cons . . . another organized, highly organized attack on the country. And it still may be. Again, I don’t know the facts, but I do know that it’s really hard to protect the homeland. According to InfoWars, when Bush says “you know another cons . . . another organized, highly organized attack on the country. . . .” he is actually admitting that 9/11 was a cons…piracy and that the Boston bombing might be one too. To back up this contention, YouTubers point to the fact that Laura, who was looking at him when he spoke, seems to open her eyes fractionally, for a millisecond. For those who do not believe that the United States government planned the 9/11 attack, this video seems remarkably straightforward. Bush is famous for mangling language. If you’re older than 20 years, you remember such gems as “misunderestimated,” “Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream,” and “Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.” This is a man who speaks mangled as a second language.More than that, if one looks at “cons . . .” in the context of the entire paragraph, he seems to be distinguish individual action (e.g., a lone bomber along the lines of Theodore Kaczynski), from a conspiracy amongst enemies of the United States (e.g., al Qaeda operatives). There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the above snippet constitutes a full confession that 9/11 was an inside job or that the Boston bombing is also an inside job, with the Tsarnaevs as the fall guys.You may have a different take on the information now available. However, based upon what we actually know, what we think we know, and what is too inclusive to rely upon, it seems more likely than not that the Tsarnaev brothers did something wrong, whether it was the Boston bombing or a crime spree that involved killing a police officer, carjacking someone, and getting into a fire fight. Everything else is gossamer-thin guesswork that’s not worth building into a world view.