Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Complaint Unsealed in Times Square Bomb Case

Read it here: United States of America vs. Faisal Shahzad, filed today before a United States Magistrate for the Southern District of New York.

For a guy with a Bachelor's in information systems and a Master's of Business Administration (see here), Shahzad must not have learned much at that bomb-making school he claims to have attended in Pakistan. Maybe he was absent the day the class was taught about fertilizer.

The subject of Mr. Shahzad and his visa history came up at today's State Department press briefing, and resulted in the following unsatisfactory exchange:

QUESTION: Can we go back to the – your very first thing on the – Pakistan?


QUESTION: First of all, a couple questions about the suspect who is in custody, who is a nationalized citizen. Can you tell us when he – presumably, he got a visa to get to the States in the first place before he became a naturalized citizen. Can you tell us when that visa was issued and what kind of visa it was?

MR. CROWLEY: I will – I think I’ve actually heard some reporting in the last few minutes on that, but I’ll take the question as to whether we can release specific information about his visa history.

QUESTION: You’ve heard reporting on this in the last few minutes?

MR. CROWLEY: Actually, I was watching NBC.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, if you’ve heard reporting on it, then you surely know.

MR. CROWLEY: Oh, I’m not disputing that we know. I’m just – I have to go sort through legal questions as to whether we’re allowed to release that information.

QUESTION: Well, he’s been charged with a crime.

MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.

QUESTION: I don’t think that – the Privacy Act doesn’t apply here.

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not sure if you – I can see a situation where if you’re convicted of a crime, perhaps you forfeit certain Privacy Act (inaudible) – I mean, I’ve agreed to take --

QUESTION: Well, once --

MR. CROWLEY: Wait a second. I’ve agreed to take the question.

QUESTION: Well, I’m a little surprised that --

MR. CROWLEY: I have to sort --

QUESTION: But I’m a little surprised that you don’t have that information ready to go. You clearly would have known this is going to be a matter of interest, no?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there – I think there’s a difference between whether we have provided full information on this individual’s travel to the United States prior to becoming a citizen. That, you can rest assured, we have provided to the ongoing investigation. Whether we’re in a position to discuss this publicly is a separate issue.

QUESTION: Well, then when did he apply for and when did he receive a U.S. passport?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, I will take all – well, wait a second. I mean, again, all of these issues are subject to the Privacy Act. I pledge --

QUESTION: I’m sorry. This guy tried to blow up a car in Times Square (inaudible).

MR. CROWLEY: Let me finish. Let me finish. As to his visa history and as to whether or not – as to his passport information, I’ll take those questions. If we can release them publicly, I will do so.

QUESTION: There is --

QUESTION: No, no. Hold on a second. So you do know. It’s not as if you – I mean, the problem is that it sounds like you don’t know.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, but hang on a second. Does the United States State Department know if it has issued a visa to this individual in the past? Yes, we know. Does the United States Department of State know if we have issued a passport to this individual? Yes, we know. Again, whether I can share that information publicly, I’ve just got to consult before I can release that.

QUESTION: And on the cooperation with Pakistan, what is it that so far that you’re aware of that the Pakistanis have done?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to the Pakistanis to announce what they’ve done.

Hey, gentlemen of the press, just because someone has been charged with a crime doesn't release U.S. government agencies from their legal responsibility not to disclose information they may hold about him:

"No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains" etc.

Wait for the book and movie to come out, Mr. Questioner. Shahzad will tell you all about his history then.


Digger said...

I work in PA, so I was watching the briefing. I suspect that some of this line of questioning, which came from AP's Matt Lee, stems from the idea that Shahzad isn't a "real" American. But of course, he is a real American. And I am sure that Matt wouldn't want his privacy violated just because he had been accused of a crime.

TSB said...

No, surely he wouldn't. Anyway, it looks like Mr. Shahzad isn't insisting on his rights to privacy now that he's under arrest, so we'll all learn everything there is to know about him soon enough.