Why I Don’t Like to Speculate

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Terrorism

The New York Post published a video that allegedly shows a suspect in the Times Square bomb attempt —

In a chilling surveillance video, the man is seen at the end of Shubert Alley peeling off a sweatshirt he’d been wearing over a short-sleeved red shirt, furtively glancing over his shoulder, then stuffing the sweatshirt into a bag.

Yes, some guy removing a sweatshirt on a warm spring day is certainly suspicious. So I looked at the NY Post video, which was made with a phone camera, and I have no idea why this particular guy was more of a “suspect” than anyone else seen in the video.

At times like this I think of Jean Charles de Menezes. If the name doesn’t ring a bell —

Think back to the 2005 London subway bombing. In the aftermath of the bombing, London police spotted a Middle Eastern-looking man acting very suspiciously

[The man] was wearing a thick coat when he ran into the Stockwell subway station in south London Friday. Temperatures in London on Friday were in the 70s. Police began following the man when he left his home in an effort to arrest him as part of their investigation.

The man “was challenged and refused to obey police instructions,” Blair said. Witnesses said about 10 armed police in street clothes chased the suspect, he tripped, and, after telling bystanders to get down, police then shot him; the man died.

“They pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him. He’s dead,” witness Mark Whitby told the British Broadcasting Corp. “He looked like a cornered fox. He looked petrified.”

Whitby said the man didn’t appear to have been carrying anything but said he was wearing a thick coat that looked padded.

Another witnesses, Anthony Larkin, told the BBC that the man appeared to have “a bomb belt and wires coming out.” Sky News reported that there were no explosives found on the man after he was shot.

If you read the early news stories about the guy, he certainly sounded suspicious, if not downright guilty. However, after a few days it finally came out that the man who was killed was 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national. Menezes had been working as an electrician in London since 2002.

His visa status was questionable; some news stories suggest his visa might have expired, but that was never completely clear. Other than the possible visa violation, however, the guy had no criminal record and no ties to any terrorist group that anyone ever turned up.

Basically, Menezes was killed for being at the wrong place at the wrong time while looking sort of Middle Eastern.

I appreciate the NYPD might have some reason to suspect the balding white guy in the video that they’re not telling us. But to call the bit of video at the NY Post “chilling” is just silly. It’s a video of an average guy taking off his shirt. And I think whipping up hysteria over this guy (going on at some rightie sites; the usual ones) is irresponsible.

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14 Comments

12 Comments

  1. A Canadian Reader  •  May 3, 2010 @3:16 pm

    Actually, your post makes me think of what might possibly happen in Arizona–walking while looking “illegal”. Now that’s chilling.

  2. maha  •  May 3, 2010 @4:40 pm

    Arizona, yes. People who get themselves worked up into an emotional pitch over some cause or another can get dangerous.

  3. uncledad  •  May 3, 2010 @4:47 pm

    “Why I Don’t Like to Speculate”

    Oh come on Maha, endless speculation is the order of the day. Endless speculation about the times square barbeque bomber, endless speculation about the oil spill baby spill. There aint been this much speculation since the Great Gold Rush!

    Truthfully I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about this knucklehead bomber, its pretty obvious to me (yes I’m speculating) that this was some kind of joke, I mean come on bags of non-flamable fertilizer! Why do we get out panties in a bunch, nothing happened, nobody got hurt, who gives a shit.

  4. Doug Hughes  •  May 3, 2010 @5:17 pm

    A few months back, Badtux refused to speculate about the guy working for the census in KY who was found hanged with ‘FED’ written on his chest. A lot of liberals were pretty lathered up (not on this site) but it turns out it was a suicide the victim wanted to look like a murder.

    Which is to say – yes – let’s let the facts work themselves out and decide on the basis of that – not what we wish most or fear most.

  5. Swami  •  May 3, 2010 @5:57 pm

    I’d speculate that the guy was last in his class at bomb making school.

  6. freD  •  May 4, 2010 @12:21 am

    If it turns out to be a Teabagger McVeigh I’ll never let the wingnuts live it down.

  7. erinyes  •  May 4, 2010 @5:43 am
  8. c u n d gulag  •  May 4, 2010 @6:44 am

    Here’s why you don’t speculate:
    “New York (CNN) — A naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan arrested overnight in the Times Square bombing investigation will appear in a Manhattan federal courtroom Tuesday morning to face formal charges.

    Faisal Shahzad, 30, was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York at 11:45 p.m. E.T. Monday as he prepared to board a flight to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said early Tuesday from Washington…”

    It took citizen action, great police work (something this country is very capable of doing) to empty the area out, get clues, and arrest the suspect.
    Now, we try him in a court of law. And, if guilty, sentence him to the appropriate prison. Not Gitmo.
    No martyr. No hero. Just a criminal.

  9. Bill Bush  •  May 4, 2010 @7:37 am

    There, now. Waiting for the facts didn’t hurt us one bit, did it? And think of all the attention we were able to give to other things we knew something about while we waited. Congratulations to the alert vendor and NYPD and FBI!

  10. maha  •  May 4, 2010 @9:01 am

    erinyes — the video is a hoot. I like the NCIS shows but haven’t seen this season because Tuesday nights are chorus rehearsal nights for me.

  11. Crazy About Urban Planning  •  May 4, 2010 @11:18 am

    Gulag is awesome. I agree. We should all agree to be proud of our law enforcement officials today.

  12. DoubleCinco  •  May 4, 2010 @1:24 pm

    Erinyes, Wait to hit on that vid. Farmmmm House! (for nonboomers that’s far out).

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