Press Follies

There has been a lot of outrage expressed on-line and directed at the FBI about release of the residence of the San Bernardino shooters.  This gave way to the subsequent home invasion by MSNBC and CNN.  This outrage against the FBI is misplaced.

The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation.  This means that all other agencies are cooperating with the FBI. That is just the way it is, when the FBI shows up in a local investigation, the locals end up working for, not with the FBI.  As an investigator, once you accept this, things go along pretty smoothly. The FBI brings tremendous resources to an investigation. To an extent they are willing to share, but there is always a point in an FBI/local, joint investigation where the locals can’t go.

I do pick on the FBI because it is fun, but in this case I’m not.  It is likely that the San Bernardino scene has yielded information that will impact investigations in other states or countries.  That information may offer no useful insight to the current investigation in California. You can bet that investigators from other agencies were participating in the search, so when the FBI packed up and left the apartment, it was no longer a crime scene, just a vacant apartment.

After a search, it is not unusual to turn control of the apartment over to management or the landlord. In fact, in this particular case where the occupants are dead, there is likely to be a clause in the lease that gives the landlord authority to take possession.  If anybody is at fault look to the landlord and the press.

There is a way to keep this from happening in the future, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the United States Attorney (USA) to implement it. Federal Grand Juries are impaneled for a specific term, I don’t know if the term length varies by district.  A grand jury meets usually one day a month, for example the third Wednesday of every month.  People under grand jury subpoena have to show up each time the grand jury meets, until they are released. The USA could subpoena all of the reporters to appear before the grand jury, according to their stories they discovered items that they considered evidentiary in nature.  This would mean the reporters would have to show up for Grand Jury until (1) they testify and are released, (2) are released without testimony, or (3) the Grand Jury term expires.  If the reporters are not called they have to return, again and again and again. has a short piece that isn’t nearly hysterical as some of the blog entries I have seen at other sights. I don’t see that MSNBC has done itself any favors, but then again I’m not within their target audience.


John takes note of NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders’s live look around the San Bernardino killers’ apartment today on MSNBC after the FBI was done with it. The Examiner’s Ashe Schow provides an excellent account of Sanders’s tour of the terrorists’ picked-over digs here (video below, about five minutes).

I dunno, a career in parapsychology may await Sanders. Doctor Peter Venkman has nothing on him. The inanity of Sanders’s comments defies belief. Picking up an empty package on the desk, Sanders reflects: “Here’s just some mixed nuts with peanuts.” Or used to be.

Sanders gingerly approaches the evidence of the murderers’ faith: “This prayer rug here may have been — I’m not sure which way — but you would face it toward Mecca. It’s possible that that prayer rug has been left in exactly the position that it was.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that!