Column: What's needed is clarity, not vengeance

The news that the FBI identified female DNA on fragments from one of the Boston Marathon bombs put this tale of terrorism in an entirely new light.

Unfortunately, it's only a bright beacon shining on absolutely nothing.

Aside from the fact the FBI was able to identify female DNA on fragments from one of the bombs Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev detonated April 15 - which is amazing, even in today's wondrous technological and high science world - there is nothing here to see.

Not yet, anyway.

The focus is on the dead bomber's widow, Katherine Russell. The FBI took her DNA sample in an effort to determine if she had a role in the terrorist plot.

Science might show she did. If so, this could lead to a wider plot involving a large, organized group of homegrown jihadists.

That would be our nation's worst nightmare.

It could also mean Russell innocently made a meal in one of the pressure cookers that her dead husband and captured brother-in-law later made into a bomb.

The DNA could belong to one of the scores of women who were injured in the blasts. The genetic markers might even belong to Krystle Campbell, 29, who died that day.

Then again, science might prove the DNA belongs to Zubeijat Tsranaev, the mother of the suspected bombers and a woman who spoke fondly of jihad in 2011. She is an angry mom who insists her sons are innocent.

Like her oldest son Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police, Zubeijat was once as American as apple pie - if apple pie worked in the beauty industry and wore its hair '80s style.

One day not too many years ago, wild and crazy Zubeijat ditched the big hair and began covering her face. She said she found a deeper meaning in Islam.

Tamerlan, a skilled boxer who was given every opportunity to realize the American dream, likewise found deeper meaning in ... something.

It's up to the men and women who investigate acts of terror to figure out what that something is, and how far it spreads.

Because while crowds applauded law enforcement on the day Dhzokhar Tsarnaev was plucked from a boat under a tarp, alive, the real work in closing this case has just begun.

Dhzokhar Tsarnaev lawyered up about a week ago, just as soon as he was read his Miranda warning.

While he certainly should be read Miranda and then be allowed to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights - he is an American citizen, after all - the prospect of a death sentence might loosen his tongue a bit.

Then again, anybody who would run over his own brother to escape a gunfight with police officers might be too far off his rocker to reason with.

For those of you lusting for the suspected bomber to get the needle courtesy of Uncle Sam, I submit this "high-value target" might be better off alive.

Tsarnaev has been assigned Judy Clarke, one of the nation's top death penalty defense attorneys. She saved Jared Loughner from death row. He is the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, killing six.

She also worked out a deal for the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, who set off 16 bombs over a period of years, injuring 23 and killing three.

The essential element in both of those cases is that the men pleaded guilty and publicly admitted to what they did. They filled in the gaps, so to speak, giving law enforcement a clear picture of what happened.

Candid, truthful statements are what we need from young Tsarnaev. We need to know if the brothers acted alone or if they were the opening act in a terror plot on U.S. soil.

But the Unabomber and the Tucson shooter are a different kind of animal. Both have documented histories of mental illness.

Tsarnaev, by all accounts, was a sweet kid with a bright future in his adopted country - a kid who was somehow radicalized by an older brother he idolized.

He seems to be driven not by demons of the mind, but by a curious cause those of us on the receiving end can't hope to understand.

For all of the advancements, neither science nor technology let us stare into that deep, dark abyss.