Friday, May 07, 2010

Combination here: Idiots With Badges and Journalists Without Conscience

[W]hat hasn’t been apparent until now is how news coverage of this story fundamentally changed the investigation. Law enforcement officials usually say they can't talk to reporters about an ongoing investigation, but there were leaks in this case from the beginning — partly because of the dynamic between two powerful law enforcement forces in New York City....

Details about the Times Square investigation were all over the local newspapers, even as authorities were still trying to puzzle out who was responsible. Any element of surprise that law enforcement might have had was evaporating. To be fair, law enforcement was partly to blame. In many cases, it was the source of the information and leaks. But there seemed to be an extra level of frustration about the leaks in this case. As one law enforcement official told NPR, "Our operational plans were being driven by the media, instead of the other way around. And that's not good."
On Monday afternoon, basically a day-and-a-half after the attack, a news organization reported that law enforcement officials were looking for an American citizen of Pakistani descent from Shelton, Conn. (NPR also had the information but didn't report it out of concern that it would affect the investigation before Shahzad's arrest.) Shahzad mentioned that news report after he was in police custody, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the case. He told the arresting officers that the moment he read it was the moment he knew it was only a matter of time before authorities would close in on him. He also assumed from the report that he was under surveillance. That's an important detail, because surveillance is only effective if people don't know they are being watched. "It was like watching an episode of 24 in real time," a law enforcement official said. The only problem was that Shahzad was able to watch it, too.
Then it got worse: Reporters started showing up at Shahzad's house in Shelton, waiting for the arrest to happen. Shahzad was actually up the road at a ramshackle apartment he had rented in Bridgeport. That's where officers were watching him — but apparently that also was leaked. A TV reporter showed up there and waited
So. Idiots leaking to the media, and idiots in media publishing crap they shouldn't. I wonder if it occurred to either of these idiot groups that with the guy being given damn-near real time information on the investigation he could have set an ambush? Or did they think of it, and it didn't matter to the bastards?

As Insty says, "The country is in the best of hands..."

1 comment:

Joe J said...

I'm more than a little concerned about the statement that, "They knew from running Shahzad's name through databases that he had purchased a gun in March."

Exactly which databases were they, and under what legal authority were they being maintained?