Witless for the Prosecution Alert: the FBI has issued a statement in the Mohamed and Megahed case saying that “there is the possibility that the publicly reported allegations involving the students may be proven to be false.” Now of course the only reason why anyone thinks that they did have pipe bombs is because authorities said they did: “They admitted to having what they said were fireworks. Based on the officer’s judgment at hand, based on what he had seen, we judged it to be other than fireworks,” Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said.
Of course, Sheriff Wayne DeWitt ain’t the FBI, but no one should have said anything if he wasn’t sure, and the FBI should have challenged DeWitt’s statement when he made it if it wasn’t accurate. If these two young men didn’t have pipe bombs or bomb-making material after all, the authorities have defamed Mohamed and Megahed. If they did, why this weaselly cautionary statement? The stakes are too high for this kind of bungling in terror cases.
“FBI’s caution puzzles experts,” by Abbie Vansickle for the St. Petersburg Times (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):
TAMPA – 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 in Goose 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.