Uh, isn’t this still a crime scene? The FBI says they’ve finished their work there, but…
In a phone call with Grasswire, a spokesperson for the FBI field office in Los Angeles confirmed the agency finished their investigation at the apartment on Thursday. But law enforcement officials at other agencies said the building was still an active crime scene.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Deputy Olivia Bozek, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department told Grasswire by phone. “That is not a cleared crime scene. There’s still an active investigation going on.”
The FBI’s in charge of the investigation so if they say it’s clear, presumably it’s clear for all agencies. Let’s hope: If the cops find out later that there were more than two people to this cell and they want to go back and look for the third suspect’s fingerprints or DNA inside Farook’s home, they can forget about that now. At last check at around 1:30 ET, not only were cameramen from various news outlets walking around inside, but seemingly random people off the street were too. One guy was caught on camera walking out with a popsicle. Supposedly Farook’s landlord let the media in, but he’s claiming that he didn’t allow it and that they simply “rushed” in. (Another report claims that Inside Edition paid $1,000 to get inside.)
Then there’s this.
MSNBC just doxed Rafia Farook, mother of a terrorist, on live television. I've blurred the important bits. pic.twitter.com/VqPwT60yVY
— David Boles (@DavidBoles) December 4, 2015
Here is a list of some of the ammo the FBI seized, part of a 4-page receipt left in the house. pic.twitter.com/YIsGwlny8B
— Kate Mather (@katemather) December 4, 2015
The “best-case” scenario is that the press is luridly publicizing sensitive information, including presumably innocent people’s personal data, for no better reason than that it’s lying around at a major crime scene. The worst-case scenario is that they’re handling actual evidence there. For instance, what if Farook’s wife was using his mother’s driver’s license as fake ID? The cops will need that later. This is what makes it hard to understand how the FBI could have cleared the scene. Wouldn’t they want all papers, identifying documents, credit card statements, etc, inside the apartment? They can’t possibly know all the information they might need for the investigation after 36 hours. They left this stuff behind presumably because it’s of no use to them now but with the understanding that it’d still be there for them later if they needed to look again.
Here’s video via the Free Beacon. Stand by for freaky deaky updates, as this can only end with reporters ordering a pizza from Farook’s living room.
Update: Via the Blaze, CNN’s police analyst is in total disbelief.
Update: A correction’s in order. That wasn’t a man with a popsicle at the scene. That was Telegraph reporter Toby Harnden with a screwdriver.
Orange screwdriver, that I used to assist the landlord. But otherwise close. https://t.co/h1lrQwJoGZ
— Toby Harnden (@tobyharnden) December 4, 2015
Update: A friend on Twitter notes that some documents might have been left behind simply because they’re beyond the scope of the first search warrant. Right, but what about the second or third as the investigation develops?
Update: Here’s Harnden again: “The house was stuffed full of documents, notebooks, photos, business cards, IDs – incredible trove.” Ace’s co-blogger Drew McCoy makes a good point too. How likely is it that a judge would have authorized only a very narrow warrant after a major terror attack? Obviously the warrant would be broad to help the cops piece together exactly what happened.
I like this idea too:
Free speech is a deadly weapon. We should regulate it to keep out of the hands of people who don’t know how to use it, no?
Update: Maybe the FBI can buy back any important evidence once it goes on sale on eBay.
Update: I believe Gabe Malor’s right about this. Typically, state laws don’t allow landlords to enter a tenant’s apartment without the tenant’s permission or until the lease is up. Unless the lease says otherwise, i.e. that the landlord may immediately reenter upon the tenant’s death, it’s not clear that he had the right to open the apartment up to the public. At least without the permission of Farook’s next of kin.
Update: A superb point from Sean Davis. Only within the past hour or so has the FBI formally announced that it’s treating the San Bernardino shooting as terrorism. How could they have possibly cleared the crime scene when they didn’t even have a theory of the crime yet? They wouldn’t have known exactly what sort of evidence to look for.
Update: A half-apology from MSNBC. They’re not sorry for being there. They’re not sorry for having possibly contaminated or destroyed evidence. But as for showing innocent people’s IDs on TV, well…
— Ashe Short (@AsheSchow) December 4, 2015