From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer yesterday:
FBI seeks help identifying 2 men seen aboard ferries
’Unusual behavior’ cited, but no hint of terrorism
The FBI is asking the public for help in identifying two men who were seen behaving unusually aboard several Washington state ferries.
About four weeks ago, the FBI fielded several reports from passengers and ferry workers about the men, who seemed “overly interested in the workings and layouts of the ferries,” Special Agent Robbie Burroughs said Monday.
The FBI also publicized photos of the men, which were taken by a ferry employee, Burroughs said.
But guees who won’t publish the photos…
The Seattle P-I is not publishing the photos because neither man is considered a suspect nor has either been charged with a crime.
Not only did the P-I not publish the photos, they referred to the two men only as “two men.” Be on the the look out for two men, each with two arms and two legs, walking upright, on Seattle ferrys. Very informative.
Here’s David McCumber, Managing Editor of the P-I, defending his decsion to hold the photos:
The FBI produces a picture of two men who indeed look like they could be Middle Eastern. Or Latino. Or Italian. Or any of several other nationalities/ethnicities. The FBI says the men have been seen on several ferries and seemed “overly interested in the workings and layout” of the ferries. They request help in getting information about them. They ask local media to run the photo.
What’s an editor to do?
Ferry security is hugely important.
So are civil liberties and privacy.
The P-I last year reported that according to a Justice Department inspector general’s assessment, Puget Sound’s ferries were the nation’s No. 1 target for maritime terrorism.
This may well be a case of alert citizens spotting a very real threat.
But running a photograph of two men who may as easily be tourists from Texas as terrorists from the Mideast with a story that makes them out to be persons of interest in a terrorism investigation seems problematic, to say the least.