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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are Cleared 'Suspects' Same Ones 'IDed' by FBI?

UPDATE:  NY Post longtime editor Col Allen stands by their cover photo and story today (see below),  but at the same time the paper confirms that the men have been cleared (but still belonged on front page?).  Also, Allen says the photo of the two men was circulated by law enforcement personnel--if true if informs the questions raised below. 

Earlier:  One now has to wonder if even the scaled-down media claims yesterday that the FBI had "IDed" (if not named or arrested) a suspect or two suspects in the Boston bombings will turn out to be nothing.  As many know,  Reddit fans have been doing photo analysis and posting numerous claims and images about possible suspects--based purely on people with backpacks in certain spots or somewhat matching the alleged description of that person "IDed" by FBI (you know, baseball cap, grey hoodie, backpack, etc.)  As usual, in these cases, most of the claims were absurd but one meme emerged as #1.

This was:  two guys who somewhat matched the "ID" with one wearing a bulky black backpack much like one that exploded and another carrying a large duffel-type bag.  They were placed very near where one of the explosions went off--and one of them, in one photo, seemed to no longer have the large backpack.  The fact that the guy had a bottle of orange juice in a pocket of the "bomb-toting" backpack didn't seem to suggest to many that maybe he was not a hardcore terrorist.

This went so far that a few other sites posted the names of one of the men in the photos.  That man was apparently alerted to this and proclaimed his innocence on Facebook, said he was heading off to police to clear his name, etc.  Others then IDed the pair as a school track coach and an athlete,  and clearly innocent ("I go to high school with the kid in the blue tracksuit. I can assure you he is innocent. He's a track star for our school and is the nicest kid i know.")   Reddit removed most posts about them and asked people to quit posting along this line. Some Reddit folks expressed regrets.

Okay, end of story and not at all surprising, right?   The problem is, from stories in news outlets and on cable TV (such as here), you might conclude that the two suspects that the feds had allegedly "IDed" were, indeed, these two men.  The FBI showed some media folks photos and--can't be sure--but they may have been same shots that Reddit posters obsessed over.   The media descriptions match up, although missing the backwards baseball cap.  The New York Post even put their photos on its front page today ("Bag Men"), referring to them as the FBI's suspects, and claiming the photo was emailed to reporters by the feds.   It's quite possible, as we know, that the media (and certainly the Post) could be wrong about this, and the feds have IDed two other men, but it at least raises the question:  Did the online sleuths point the official probers in the wrong direction and that, actually, the whole official and media "ID" claim from yesterday is now totally bogus?  Or is the FBI distributing photos of two other men?

This can be settled if a reputable news outlet comes forward now and says that they were sent photos by FBI--and yes, they featured those two men, or did not. One also wonders if FBI twice cancelled press conferences yesterday after they realized their "suspects" were bogus?

We now learn that the FBI is promising to release a photo of a "person of interest" today.  After all this, certainly will not be one of the two "suspects" in the above episode.

Greg Mitchell's book "So Wrong For So Long," on media misconduct and the Iraq war, was published this month in an updated edition and for the first time as an e-book, with preface by Bruce Springsteen. 


budfox said...

Greg, excellent reasoned look at the possible investigative reality.

Verlene said...

This is cool!