Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Reporting All But The Key Facts

They've arrested a guy at Orlando Airport before he could get on a plane with bomb-making materials, and that's great. It's just the reporting that's lacking. Here's the account from a local TV station:
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Jamaican man behavior specialists spotted acting suspiciously was detained and arrested after components used to make pipe bombs, unknown liquids and bomb-making literature were found in his luggage at Orlando International Airport. ...

The passenger, who the FBI identified as Kevin Brown, 32, was immediately taken into custody and a portion of the Terminal A in front of Virgin Atlantic was closed to passengers.

During a search of Brown's luggage, airport authorities found two galvanized pipes, end caps, two small containers containing BBs, batteries, two containers with an unknown liquid and bombing making literature, FBI officials said.
It goes on, but that's the gist of it. What's missing? Two things.

First, a description of the literature would be more than nice. Was it "Blowing Up Airplanes for Dummies" -- as implied but not clarified by the reference to "bomb-making literature" in the lead, or was it more sinister -- a some psycho rant he was working on ... or jihadist literature? Inquiring minds want to know.

One might -- might, mind you, given the quality of reporting nowadays -- assume the reporter would ask. If he or she did, then either the cops weren't talking or the editor cut it. Either is all right if the motivation is to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation, but if the motivation is to protect Muslim sensitivities, then heads should roll.

Figuratively, of course. This is America, not Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Second, where exactly was that luggage when it was searched? If it was in checked-in baggage, it's much less significant than if it was in his carry-on baggage. The latter means his intent might have been to blow up that plane, and that TSA security was severely lacking.

The account tells us nothing, evidence of a level of reporting one could expect from an 8th grader. The accompanying flash slide show, however, shows a photo of the man seated on a curb outside the airport with a bomb squad person next to him apparently checking the contents of a bag. The caption reads:
When the person's bag was checked, it was found to have prohibitive [sic] materials inside, officials said. There was no word what was inside the bag.
Yet the lead says "components used to make pipe bombs, unknown liquids and bomb-making literature" were found in the bag. So was it in the carry-on? This story is so confusing!

I would be remiss if I didn't pass on the humor of the story. Remember, this guy was captured after "behavior specialists" spotted him "acting suspiciously." Way to go, TSA, having behavior specialists at the ready to defend the homeland. Except, a few paragraphs down the story says:
Passengers waiting to board flights at Orlando International Airport Tuesday said they noticed Brown acting suspiciously before agents moved in.

"He looked rather crazy," a passenger said. "He was rocking left and right and up and down. He looked a little wacko."
That could be a nervous man, a Muslim in prayer, or a person with a mental illness -- but it's hardly behavior that requires a behavior specialist to observe and act on.

Labels: , , ,