Cliff Kincaid
Terrorist collaborator says pot made him do it
By Cliff Kincaid
October 31, 2014

As the American people prepare to vote on marijuana ballot measures in three states and the District of Columbia, measures which would make the mind-altering substance more freely available, more bad news keeps coming for the well-funded pothead lobby.

In a major terrorism-related case, a participant in the cover-up of the Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy, Robel Phillipos, claimed the drug had so many bad effects on his brain that he lied to federal agents.

The key question, however, is whether the major media will ever start reporting on the substantial evidence linking "cannabis" and mental illness, violence, and terrorism.

The "reefer madness" defense for Phillipos, a close friend and associate of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, would be laughable were it not for the fact that the Boston bombings killed three people and injured hundreds. Martin Richard, the eight-year-old boy killed in the bombing, had been photographed holding a sign that said, "No more hurting people. Peace."

The pothead defense clearly didn't work out the way his radical left lawyers had planned; Phillipos has now been found guilty by a jury of lying to the FBI, "despite his claim that he was too high to remember what he had done," as The Atlantic magazine described the unusual defense.

The son of an Ethiopian immigrant, Phillipos knew that two other Tsarnaev friends removed a backpack containing evidence of the terrorist crime from his college dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. But he lied about it to federal agents.

His attorney, Susan Church, and her co-counsel, Derege Demissie, had argued that "he smoked marijuana about a half-dozen times that day, and was simply unable to reconstruct his actions during a series of high-pressure interviews with federal agents," The Boston Globe reported. The Globe said legal analysts were divided over whether the "I forget because of marijuana" defense would work.

Well, it didn't.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, between April 19, 2013 and April 26, 2013, federal investigators interviewed Phillipos five times about the bombing and during each of those interviews Phillipos lied. He blamed marijuana for all of these memory "lapses."

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, "In the wake of one of the most significant events in this city's modern history – an event which left two young women and a child dead, and many more injured – thousands of ordinary citizens assisted law enforcement in identifying and locating the perpetrators." However, she said that Phillipos did just the opposite. "He lied to agents when he could have helped. He concealed when he could have assisted," she said.

He faces eight years in prison for each of the two counts of lying, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for each charge.

Incredibly, former governor of Massachusetts and 1988 Democratic nominee for president Michael Dukakis testified on his behalf and said he and his wife had taken him to the 2004 Democratic National Convention as a "special guest." Dukakis said, "We watched him grow up."

Based on the defense of his crimes offered by his lawyers, it appears that he grew up into a zombie willing to lie about his knowledge of the worst terrorist incident in Boston history because marijuana clouded his memory.

This provocative legal theory came, not surprisingly, from the far-left. His attorney Susan Church previously served as co-chair of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and regularly conducts "know your rights" seminars at community centers and various immigrant advocacy groups.

Her bio neglects to point out that the National Lawyers Guild was once identified as a Communist Party front. Her co-counsel, Derege Demissie, is a member of the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

Church focuses on "immigration law and criminal defense," and "advocates for immigrants with criminal convictions facing deportation and immigrants seeking immigration benefits in the United States." She received the "Detention Panel Attorney of the Year" award from the Political Asylum Immigrant Representation project.

Leave it to the ACLU and the far-left National Lawyers Guild to offer marijuana as a defense for lying about terrorism.

The "high out of his mind" defense, though ultimately unsuccessful, does add to the questions about marijuana's role in the crime, since Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev was a heavy marijuana user and dealer. His older brother, killed in a shoot-out, was implicated in a triple murder involving marijuana being thrown on three dead bodies whose throats were slit.

To add to the intrigue, a sister of the Boston Marathon bombers who goes by the name of Bella Tsarnaeva is also facing a marijuana charge.

The Bergen County, New Jersey, Record reported that Tsarnaeva was arrested after police responded to her home on a domestic violence report and found marijuana. The paper said both Tsarnaeva and her boyfriend, Ahmad Khalil, were indicted on April 10 for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

The number of people associated with the bombers and/or the conspiracy has led to speculation that it grew out of a marijuana smuggling operation, possibly with foreign ties. The Tsarnaev brothers were born in the former Soviet Union.

It has long been known that terrorist groups operating in drug-producing regions of the world such as Afghanistan, Colombia, and Peru, have been heavily involved in the drug trade.

Despite Phillipos' failure to blame pot for his lies, Reuters news agency noted that his lawyers called one expert, Dr. Alan Wartenberg, who said that marijuana can "impair memory" and "impair executive functions," as well as judgment and other brain functions. Wartenberg said younger men's brains are "more prone to cognitive impairment from marijuana" than those in older men.

Many studies back up the testimony. One study from Northwestern University found that teenagers who were heavy marijuana users had "abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory and performed poorly on memory tasks."

But while the drug can have an extremely negative effect on the brain, the idea that smoking marijuana on a constant basis gets you off the hook for lying about crimes of terrorism has now been rejected by a jury.

Still, how many more "stoners" will be produced if the marijuana ballot measures pass on November 4? The stakes are so high that the Brookings Institution is calling them the "Marijuana Midterms."

The dope lobby is heavily funded, with much of the money coming from groups associated with billionaires George Soros and Peter Lewis. Other funds are supplied by the marijuana business, which generates repeat customers dependent on the weed.

One analysis shows that in Oregon, the marijuana lobby is spending $2 million on a prime-time TV ad campaign, while opponents have raised a mere $168,000. In Alaska, dopers have raised $867,000 while opponents have only raised $97,000.

In states like California, Washington, and Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized, experts are now warning about edible marijuana products disguised as candies, cookies and brownies falling into the hands of kids. The Washington Poison Center warns that, of the reported cases of pediatric marijuana exposures in Washington State, 27 percent were cases involving children from one to three years old.

While drugging kids with marijuana appears to be on the rise, the media seem to be treating these cases as harmless pranks.

The dope lobby, meanwhile, is extremely upset over my previous column examining a connection between high-profile cases of Islamic terrorism and violence and marijuana addiction. One critic called my column "offensive," saying, "I hope that all TWB readers contact him and let them know what they think of his reefer madness."

TWB stands for "The Weed Blog," devoted to all things marijuana-related. It features "marijuana books," cannabis recipes, and even "grower tips." It is typical of the consuming passion for the drug that characterizes heavy users.

The editors and administrators are identified by the names "Johnny Green" and "Jay Smoker," which are obviously pseudonyms for marijuana users and activists. They are determined to portray marijuana addiction in the best possible light.

This is typical of the marijuana mentality that gripped the Boston bombers and their collaborators, until one of them, Phillipos, got caught by the feds and lied. Then he decided he had to blame pot for his mental problems in order to avoid prison.

© Cliff Kincaid


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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