Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Past attacks show dangers of following false trails in Boston bombings

Boston Marathon
Two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters
Just 24 hours after the Boston Marathon bomb attack, there is intense media interest in the identity of possible "persons of interest" or suspects. In the immediate aftermath of the explosions, some news organisations continued to report that a Saudi man was under police guard – even after investigators had explicitly denied that anybody had been arrested. On Tuesday, it emerged that the man had been questioned as a witness, not a suspect.
As the FBI and police begin sifting through what they have described as a variety of leads, it is inevitable that they will look at some individuals or groups who turn out to have had no involvement. Previous major investigations provide cautionary tales about the dangers of the investigators or the media rushing to judgment.
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