A few weeks ago, the right wing world was hyperventilating over the arrest of two middle eastern college students in North Carolina. Apparently the men had “pipe bombs” or “fireworks” or “explosives” (depending upon who was telling the story) in the trunk of the car they were driving near a US naval base. Open and shut case in the eyes of most of the freedom loving right wing, right? Middle Eastern men, explosives, car, Naval Base. Lock ’em up. Throw away the key. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to Gitmo.
The last bits of information to see daylight in regard to this event are rather telling. The first was that tests were to be conducted on the remains of the “explosives” (they were detonated in a controlled manner) to determine what type of device it was. What were the results of this test? No word as of yet. Nothing. This is more than likely related to the second bit of information. Apparently, the FBI isn’t convinced:
For days after the arrest of two University of South Florida students accused of having pipe bombs, the FBI remained silent.
On Wednesday, the agency released a statement telling the public it’s possible there’s no merit to the accusations against Youssef Megahed, 21, and Ahmed A. Mohamed, 26. Both were arrested Aug. 4 inGoose Creek, S.C., on charges of possession of explosives.
“The FBI would like to remind everyone that this is an ongoing investigation and there is the possibility that the publicly reported allegations involving the students may be proven to be false,” it read.
An FBI spokesman said the agency is still investigating, that it released the statement only because there’s so much interest in the case, and it wants to be fair.
“We’re just making a request for everybody to be very objective at this time, very neutral,” said Special Agent Dave Couvertier.
But local legal experts say there’s likely more to it.
“That is a highly unusual statement from the FBI,” said Tampa lawyer John Fitzgibbons, a former federal prosecutor.
Other legal experts agreed, but no one knew what to make of it.
“Well, who knows what that means?” said Ed Page, a lawyer who has experience in Tampa and Washington, D.C. “Perhaps the initial assessment that the trunk contained pipe bombs was inaccurate. That’s a weird statement, I’ve got to tell you, to be coming out of the FBI.”
Fitzgibbons saw two scenarios. First, the FBI may not have a strong case against the students. Second, the Department of Justice may require a statement of that sort in its communication with the media.
Page agreed, adding that he’d never seen such a statement from the FBI. Neither had lawyer Stephen Crawford.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an FBI statement that reminds us of our civil liberties,” Crawford said. “I think it shows that it’s probably going to turn out that the chemicals in those kids’ trunks were more fireworks than it was bomb.”
Bob Ulmer, a former FBI agent in Tampa, agreed the statement was unusual, but he said it sounded more like a policy decision or a deliberate attempt to be objective than the end of an investigation.
“I would say they’re just being cautious,” Ulmer said. “I’ve never heard it worded quite that way.”
The FBI declined to elaborate, saying only that the investigation continues.
Given the historical lack of such a statement, and the general attitude of the current administration, it looks to be pretty obvious to this observer that the test results likely showed that the “explosives” were fireworks, or homemade rockets, or something of that nature. PVC pipe is often used in “potato guns” and rockets. As are certain types of incendiary substances such as gunpowder. My guess is that the two men will be released, with time served. Much lesser charge.
The right wing will erupt of course. Having already tried and convicted.