The blogs that cried wolf?

In the past two weeks, some of the blogs have been astir with news of an alleged string of possible jihadist terrorist attacks (update: corrected link) on U.S. soil. The main story is that of 21-year-old Joel Hinrichs, the University of Oklahoma engineering student who committed suicide on October 1 by blowing himself up within 100 yards of the campus football stadium during a game attended by 85,000 people. By October 5, the alarm was in full swing: Hinrichs had reportedly tried to purchase a large quantity of the explosive ammonium nitrate; he had allegedly converted to Islam and belonged to a mosque that may have had terrorist ties and may have been attended earlier by “20th hijacker” Zacharias Moussaoui; he may have had radical Islamic literature and a one-way airplane ticket to Algeria in his apartment; he may have attempted to enter the crowded stadium twice before he blew himself up.

As it turns out, the only truth in all this is that Hinrichs had, indeed, inquired about buying ammonium nitrate at a local store two days before his suicide, and had given evasive and suspect answers about why he needed it. Because of a tip about this attempted purchase, he had come to the attention of the FBI, which became involved in investigating the suicide. The other claims were a lot of rumor-mongering and speculation, all firmly denied by both the FBI and the university authorities and often based on laughably far-fetched “clues” (Hinrichs had a Pakistani roommate; he lived — gasp! — within a block of the mosque; he even — wait until you hear this one! — grew a beard!).

The news that the FBI was investigating the case of a man blowing himself up on a major university campus undoubtedly merited some attention. However, the reasonable bloggers quickly realized there was no “there” there. At Instapundit.com on October 6, Glenn Reynolds linked to a couple of blogposts discussing the allegedly suspicious details of the story, but later updated the post to include a link to an excellent post at Caerdroia debunking most of the claims. After that, he didn’t touch the story again, except to link to a cautious post by CBS News blogger Vaughn Ververs saying that the national media needed to look into the story.

By contrast, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and The Jawa Report flogged the story relentlessly, picking up every sensational detail and railing against the “mainstream media” for ignoring and covering up the story. In a typical passage her October 12 syndicated column, Malkin wrote:

Nothing to see here. Move along. Islam is a peaceful religion. Stop asking so many damned questions.

Such is the attitude of the national media, which seems to believe that ’tis better to live in ignorance and indulge in hindsight later than to offend the gods of political correctness.

On October 13, The Wall Street Journal published an article debunking the alleged terrorist angle and taking the bloggers to the woodshed for spreading hysteria about the story. Some of the Journal‘s targets respond here, here, and here, trying to debunk the debunking and gamely attempting to keep the story alive. Malkin, Powerline, and The Jawa Report claim that the blogs have not made any assertions, merely asked questions. First of all, that’s a common, and rather poor, excuse for irresponsible speculation. If a prominent left-wing blog ran an item titled, “Did George W. Bush know in advance about the 9/11 attacks?”, I doubt that Malkin & Co. would consider the question mark to be much of an attenuating circumstance.

Second, some of the blogs that pushed the “jihadi terrorism in the heartland” angle on the Hinrich story went much further than merely ask questions. On October 6, for instance, The Jawa Report ran an item headlined, ” Islamic Terrorism in Oklahoma Likely.” On the same day, John Hinderaker at Powerline had this to say:

I don’t think there is any doubt that the student, Joel Henry Hinrichs, intended mass murder rather than suicide.

On October 10, Hinderaker followed up with this:

Unless you live in Oklahoma and follow the local news, or else read conservative blogs, you probably wouldn’t know anything about Joel Hinrichs, the University of Oklahoma student who almost surely tried to carry off a mass suicide-murder at an OU football game.

Some questions.

My friend Sharon McGovern (Cobra) thinks that the Journal article is needlessly nasty and snippy toward bloggers, and not for the first time; she says that she is especially inclined to defend blogs right now because, traveling out of the country during Hurricane Katrina, she found the blogs to be a heartening corrective to the misinformation spread by the mainstream media. Fair enough. This isn’t, or shouldn’t be, about good MSM vs. bad blogs. Certainly, there have been cases in which the mainstream media have peddled bogus news and hysteria; and certainly, there have been cases in which the MSM got it wrong and the blogs got it right (most notably “Rathergate,” a.k.a. Memogate or Typewritergate). What’s more, this is not an issue of “citizen journalists” without professional credentials: Malkin is a professional journalist. And finally, the responsibility for the hysteria over the Oklahoma “suicide bombing” does not rest entirely with the blogs: a lot of the false rumors were fanned by the local TV stations (though it’s not clear to what extent their coverage was blog-driven). At best, the mainstream media and the blogs can complement each other’s strengths, with professional journalists gathering the news and bloggers subjecting their reports to fact-checking and critical analysis. In this case, what looks like sloppy and hysterical reporting by the local mainstream media fed sloppy and hysterical coverage by blogs. And vice versa.

There is another question one might ask: When we’re in the middle of the War on Terror, isn’t it better to be too vigilant than not vigilant enough? Where’s the harm in trying to “connect the dots”?

First of all, reporting unfounded rumors is not “connecting the dots.” Equating a Pakistani roommate and an apartment in close proximity to a mosque with Islamic terrorist ties is not “connecting the dots.” It’s irresponsible speculation.

Second, the harm in crying wolf should be pretty obvious.

On one side, there will be people who will remain convinced, no matter how many times the FBI and other authorities may repeat that Joel Hinrichs was a depressed and troubled young man with no political or religious motivations, that there was something more to the story and that the powers that be are lying to them. Here are a couple of voices from the comments at The Jawa Report:

* The FBI is somewhere between the Keystone Kops and the Gestapo, and I wouldn’t trust them to catch Osama if he walked in and applied for a job and used his real name. FBI agents spend more time in classes learning to be sensitive to muslims than they do trying to crack terrorist organizations.

* The story here is the WSJ’s desire to minimize anything that may be “bad for business”. Domestic suicide bombings are bad for business, so they’ll go out of their way to discourage the airing of facts, whatever they may be. Curbing illegal immigration is also bad for business, and that’s why you’ll hear nary a word about it on the WSJ. As a right-winger sometimes I feel better about the blatant NY Times than I do about the WSJ’s stealth corporatist agenda.

On the other side, meanwhile, some are going to use incidents like these to discredit all concerns about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism in the U.S. What a perfect excuse to caricature those concerned about terrorism as Muslims-under-the-bed paranoids. (By the way, I do agree with Malkin that some degree of ethnic and religious profiling is necessary in the War on Terror; but now, I’d like to know if her criteria for profiling include having a Pakistani roommate and living near a mosque. )

There is another consideration, as well. It’s called common decency. As Caerdroia pointed out early on:

[N]o matter what else, Joe [Hindrich] has a family and friends who are very badly affected by Joe’s death. In the absence of good evidence, isn’t it a bit better to wait to pronounce from on high, so as not to unfairly smear a possible innocent and his family? Otherwise, just how are conservatives any better morally, any less conspiracy-addled freaks, than the D[emocratic] U[nderground] moonbats?

Well said.

By the way, the Oklahoma suicide is not the only recent incident to be given the “jihad in America” treatment. On October 10, Smash at Indepundit made a post dramatically titled, “College Bombings?” and opening with:

FIRST it was Oklahoma, then Georgia Tech, and now UCLA.

What’s going on?

The Georgia Tech incident was a bottle filled with explosive chemicals dry ice that blew up when a custodian picked it up, causing an Atlanta police official to make a rash comment about a terrorist act. The UCLA incident was the suicide of UC-San Diego student Khaled Yasufi, whose apartment was reported to have contained a “chemical lab” in the bathroom. But after the alarmist opening, Smash’s post is followed by several updates that add up to an Emily Litella-like “Never mind”: the “terrorist act” at Georgia Tech was a freshman prank, and the “chemical lab” in the San Diego apartment was an illegal drug lab.

But Smash, at least, promptly corrected the record. Malkin, who linked to Smash’s initial post, has yet to do that.

Footnote: Mark Kleiman has a post about the Journal debunking of the “suicide bombing at the University of Oklahoma” story. He makes some good points, but I think he’s unduly harsh on Glenn Reynolds for merely linking to a post by Vaughn Ververs of CBSNews.com, who wrote that the mainstream media needed to look into the story. If someone here deserves criticism, why not Ververs?

Update and correction: Another salient piece of information is that Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) has publicly said that, according to information he has received from the FBI, there is no reason to believe that Hinrichs was planning a terrorist attack, or was anything other than a depressed young man who decided to take his own life by a highly unusual method.

Mark Tapscott writes to take issue with the fact that the opening sentence of my post, which links to one of his posts about the Hinrichs case, implies that he has written about “an alleged string of possible jihadist terrorist attacks.” In fact, he has written only about the Oklahoma case. I apologize for the confusion.

Update: In the comments, some posters (including bloggers such as patterico) have pointed to this line in the Wall Street Journal story:

In fact, authorities did find, in Mr. Hinrichs’s bedroom, additional explosive material. They detonated them at the police firing range the next day, jolting the city again.

Some suggested that the presence of additional explosives suggests that Hinrichs was, in fact, planning a terrorist act. To me, that just doesn’t add up. If he was planning a suicide bombing/mass murder, he obviously wasn’t going to use the additional explosives. And if he wanted to inflict maximum damage, why didn’t he use all the explosive materials he had to build the device he used to kill himself? On the other hand, if he was simply building a homemade bomb, it’s no great mystery that he had some explosive material left over.

One poster thought that the phrase, “jolting the city again,” was particularly telling since it implied a great quantity of explosives. I wrote to Ryan Chittum, one of the two writers of the Journal article, to inquire about this. His reply this afternoon:

As you correctly deduced, “jolted the city” was a turn of phrase. I didn’t think anyone would literally think the explosions shook the city like an earthquake. People I talked to in Norman could hear the detonations, just as they could hear the Hinrichs explosion. Any kind of explosion is by its nature loud and I don’t think you can deduce much of anything from the fact people heard it. Having attended OU and lived in Norman for several years, I know it’s a small place. The Ruf-Neks’ fire their guns during OU football games and you can hear that from all around.
Hope that helps.
Take care,
Ryan

75 Comments

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75 responses to “The blogs that cried wolf?

  1. Reid Stott

    The Georgia Tech incident was a bottle filled with explosive chemicals…

    Actually, it appears it was dry ice, and the guy was no Islamic Jihadist … he was a blogger. Oh, the irony!

  2. tefta

    “As it turns out, the only truth in all this is that Hinrichs had, indeed, inquired about buying ammonium nitrate at a local store two days before his suicide, and had given evasive and suspect answers about why he needed it.”

    Sorry, I didn’t see the answer. Why was it then that he tried to buy the fertilizer?

  3. Anonymous

    “(By the way, I do agree with Malkin that some degree of ethnic and religious profiling is necessary in the War on Terror; but now, I’d like to know if her criteria for profiling include having a Pakistani roommate and living near a mosque. )”

    yeah…that would be criteria on my profiling agenda…that, coupled with the fact that he tried buying explosives already, had a somewhat complex bomb complete with nails and bolts (the same being the one that blew his ass up) and just so happens to be one of the many misguided folks who convert to that ever so enlightning religion of islam…you know…peaceful as it is and all…just this info is enough for me to kick in his door! Wake up…this is WW3 and anyone who thinks differently, well…good luck with that.

  4. Cathy Young

    Why was it then that he tried to buy the fertilizer?

    I assume it’s because he was planning to commit suicide by bomb?

  5. Anonymous

    You’re in for it now 🙂 You’ve missed a lot of points about this story, and you’ll be hit with many lawyers in the comments.

  6. Cathy Young

    There were no nails or bolts in the bomb (that was one of the many initial inaccurate reports). There is absolutely no evidence that Hinrichs converted to Islam.

  7. Monkberrymoon

    “I assume it’s because he was planning to commit suicide by bomb?”

    What kind of a retard would actually do this? I don’t mean to sound dumb, but is blowing oneself up a common form of suicide in the US? Why go to that much trouble when you can just, as they say, go home and eat your gun.

    I realize that, even if it isn’t common, that doesn’t mean he was Johnny Jihad the sequel. But, c’mon — is it wrong to be a little skeptical about a guy who “gets depressed” so he blows himself up? Was he trying to lighten the mood?

  8. Countertop

    I certainly bought into the hysteria, but I don’t think I ever blogged about it.

    In any case, good post and good job of debunking something that apparantly needs debunking.

    As I have been saying (and I am a rather conservative blogger), Powerline’s all out desire for additional Dan Rather like publicity is the great Shark Jumping Episode of the blogsphere.

  9. Dave Schuler

    Zdrastvuite, Cathy. Good post.

    Jeff Medcalf is a great blogger, a decent guy, my former co-blogger here at The Glittering Eye, and I consider him a friend. His posts are nearly always a source of good advice.

    I think there’s some justice in your complaints about “crying wolf” but I wonder if a better metaphor isn’t “the dog who failed to bark”. I think this is really a story about the problems of distributing information in a free and open society. One of the reasons the blogosphere exists at all is dissatisfaction with both the conventional media and the authorities and, as I read it, that was the main complaint in this case. There was certainly an undercurrent of Islamophobia and the longer the story hung in the air, the more apparent that undercurrent became.

    Could that could have been avoided by more openness from the media and the authorities at the outset?

    Many of us have the impression that we’re being spoonfed information as it serves the purposes of the media, the police, and politicians.
    That’s no way to operate in a free society. We’re adults and we don’t need editors or censors.

    The various competing interests including privacy and concern for individuals and operational security need to be balanced. But I think there’s too much erring on the side of secrecy already.

    We can handle the truth. And the details.

  10. Cathy Young

    Yes, “suicide by bomb” is unusual. Some people choose unusual suicide methods.

    Who knows why Hinrichs chose that particular method? Maybe it’s because, as his brother said on TV the other day, he was always fascinated by explosives. Maybe he wanted to go out in a spectacular way. The point is, he made no attempt that we know of to injure anyone else.

  11. Dave Schuler

    Oh, and enjoy your Instalanche! 😉

  12. Revenant

    I’m skeptical that Hinrichs was a suicide bomber, but I’m also skeptical that he was a suicide.

    The existing facts seem to be:

    – Hinrichs built a homemade bomb
    – He brought the bomb to a public place
    – He died when the bomb exploded.
    – He left behind additional explosives in his room.
    – He had tried to purchase ammonium nitrate.

    These facts don’t add up to “suicide”. They add up to “guy who accidentally blew himself up with a homemade bomb”. Suicide via bomb is virtually unheard of; accidentally blowing yourself up while screwing around with explosives is much more common.

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but I haven’t seen any indication that he left a note behind. The only evidence that he deliberately killed himself seems to be that he suffered from depression. Well, so did Timothy McVeigh. Depression can make people self-destructive, but it can also make people violent towards others.

  13. Quilly_Mammoth

    Part of the reason that the blogosphere went nuts was not only a fear that many don’t take seriously the threat of Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, but that the FBI didn’t realize how fast such a story would take off. I live in Oklahoma and the answers to the questions that were being asked just weren’t being answered very forthrightly or quickly. Everything had to be cleared by the FBI…and the gunshy FBI acted very slowly, often relying on Boren to speak to issues.

    My personal conversations with LEO’s who would know led me to the conclusion that this was just a sad kid. Cops tend to know when people aren’t surprised when a troubled person does troubling things. I posted my conclusion, based on personal conversations, here:
    http://justbarkingmad.com/index.php?p=338
    on October 2.

    That the story kept on getting inflated is the natural tendency to inflate in the vacuum of a lack of facts. Then, once committed, the bigger blogs just couldn’t let go. Exactly as we have seen the MSM do time after time.

    QM

  14. Richard Aubrey

    According to the president of the university, fans at the next game will be searched to see if they’re smuggling tornadoes into the stadium.
    Assafact. The fans are being warned to be ready to follow instructions about possible bad weather, and will be searched upon entering the game. Security–probably storm chasers with anti-cyclone rayguns–will be heightened.

    Boren isn’t as cool as he thinks he sounds.
    Maybe he hasn’t read Caty’s column.

    Two issues: One is that you need not have terrorist connections to be a terrorist. The LAX shooter, though, did, and the FBI insisted he was a one-off. So were the DC snipers, except it appears they may have had a connection at a compound out in the woods. But, nope, not terrorists.
    There is no reason a terrorist can’t be a “lone wolf”, which FBI director Mueller says keeps him awake nights.

  15. ShrinkWrapped

    Cathy,
    You may well be correct that this story has been hyped unnecessarily by the bloggers, but you have not denied that the explosive involved was one very popular with the Palestinian terrorists (still not proof of anything) and the most significant question of all that remains to be explored:
    I have been a practising Psychiatrist for 25 years and have never heard of blowing oneself up as a method of suicide; there’s always a first time, and there may have been other examples I never read about, but publicly blowing yourself up as a suicide attempt is a new one for me.
    Just wondering…

  16. Cathy Young

    Welcome, Instapundit readers. 🙂

  17. Anonymous

    Amen to “Revenant.” Cathy doesn’t even mention the additional explosives in his room (the WSJ mentions it, but side-steps it). I also find it curious that only two days after trying to buy ammonium nitrate, he manages to have a working batch of TATP. He sure was determined to blow something up! So if he wasn’t an Islamist suicide bomber, maybe he was plain old nutty American bomber. And the media should ignore this beause….

  18. TallDave

    I think the problem is that the MSM is treating this as a routine suicide. It clearly isn’t. It’s very likely his intent was to kill dozens that day and that he only failed because he couldn’t get into the game, and its probable he would have killed hundreds or thousands if he’d gotten the ammonium nitrate he sought.

    Are these known facts? No, though they seem likely based on the fact his method of suicide matches how terrorist suicide bombers attack crowds, and he was right next to a crowd of people. But given the possibility, why isn’t the media looking for the facts? Even if the guy was a suicide, it’s odd enough (and ominous enough) that it warrants media scrutiny.

    It’s odd, too, that caerdroia is dsimissing witnesses as “rumors.” And too much credence in being placed in the denials by people who have a huge vested interest in the answer being “not terrorism.”

  19. EddieP

    If he whipped up a batch of TATP to commit suicide, why did he decide to go to the stadium to do it? Why wouldn’t he have done it at home or at the fertilizer store that denied him the ammonium nitrate? Folks, he was a bomber, not a suicide. I think it was his plan to detonate as close to, or inside the stadium as possible. He jiggled it a little bit too much and had a workplace accident. He was a Richard Reid wannabe. The only question is was it connected to the mosque?

  20. ihasch

    I think I’m missing something, so help me out. The guy blow himself up 100 yards from a packed football stadium. This is not exactly your run of the mill suicide. Then we find out that a few days earlier the guy tried to buy the same stuff that Timothy McVeigh used to to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City. We also discovered that this guy had additional explosives.
    Now forgive me for asking, but doesn’t all of this leave some very profound questions? Yet you treat these verified facts as if they are meaningless, as if the very possibility of terrorism is inconceivable.
    Leaving the suddenly overlooked obvious behind, what about reports that this guy may have tried to get into the stadium? Are they debunked or simply not proven? What about reports that this guy had converted to Islam? The TV station that first reported this has not retracted its story, so what about it? Or what about allegations that jihadist literature was found at this guys apartment? Again, unfounded or unconfirmed?
    This is not that complicated. You have a situation that logically raises serious questions. What is complicated is that some people also have what appears to be a vested ideological interest to try to bury the story. Why? Hell if I know. Maybe this was just a simple suicide without any homocidal intentions. Maybe not. Yet your assertion that it is paranoia to even ask questions in such a remarkable case is not a conclusion that can eaily be explained without some idelogical baggage of your own. If some people want to rush to believe that terrorism may be involved, you clearly want to believe that terrorism cannot be involved.
    So this is what I want. If you can answer me, good. If not than it will speak for itself. All I want you to do is list what is true and what has been definitely disproved, then I want you to list the source. For example, was this guy frequenting the mosque in question, as the TV report stated, or not, and if so, what is the evidence? For someone who accuses people of crying wolf, this should be quite simple. Yet I notice only vague references to things simply not being true.
    That being said, I hope you don’t give me the standard FBI “no known terrorism connection” bit. I would be shocked, should terrorism be involved, if this guy was in any way affiliated with any terrorists groups. Yet what about a freelanced variety? This has been a problem with the FBI classification going back to the shooting on the Brooklyn Bridge; in the FBI’s view, terrorism is limited to acts by concerted organizations, even if terrorist motivations are at play. By this reckoning, the aforementioned Brooklyn Bridge shooter, the apprehended would-be NYC subway suicide bomber, the guy who shot people at the Empire State Building, the guy who shot people at LA airport, the DC snipers and the pilot who crashed the Egyptian airliner are by definition, “not terrorists”. In any event this is a matter of semantics. What is not merely semantic is that this is a case that deserves to be investigated, and that people who simply suggest this need should not be sneered at without evidence. You have yet to present any.

  21. Adam Villani

    There are a lot of young guys who enjoy concocting explosives for the sake of blowing things up, not to further some kind of political or philosophical purpose, but just because they like to watch explosions, they enjoy the challenge of the chemistry involved, and/or they enjoy the feeling of being “outside the law.” A great many of these people never intend to harm anyone or cause more property damage than a common vandal would.

    I would say the fact that Hinrichs was near a large gathering of people indicates to me that it’s possible that he may have been trying to cause some damage at the football game. Whether that was blowing up the scoreboard or a maintenance shed, or if it was murdering scores of people, I have no idea. There’s nothing to indicate that there was anything jihadist about it, though, at least as far as I can tell.

  22. JoeC

    Why is the search warrant for his residence sealed?

    What do the “personality profilers” have to say?

    Why did he try to buy ammonium nitrate?

    Did you expect the mosque to say; “Why yes, he attends services here?”

    Of course his family will stick up for him. That is what families do.

    Why did he choose to suicide next to 80 thousand people?

    What was he depressed about? Had he sought help?
    Did he have a girlfriend?
    How big was his circle of friends?

    How was he doing academically?

    Had he ever tried to commit suicide before?

    MSM normally deconstructs a persons entire life when something along the lines of 80k+ people, next to a bomb, with islamic overtones occurs.

    You can debunk the story all you want, there are hundreds of unanswered questions that are just dangling.

  23. chris

    Cathy –

    Well done post, I agree that we need to be careful in these situations.

    One thing I find outrageous though about the MSM’s treatment of this story is that the bombing occured the same day as other suicide bombings in Bali. No one – especially MSM “professionals” – should deny that a bombing that on the surface shares many similarities and occurs the same day as other bombing isn’t “news.”

    Either the MSM deliberately ignored this story or their “red state flyover” coverage is even worse than I thought.

    Also, I still remain very suspicious about the nature of his suicide. Anyone have any idea how many commit suicide by explosion per year?

    This is a bizarre story that cries out for more explanation. It’s “news” and the failure of MSM to cover it as the story was unfolding seems to validate a lot of the worse things many of us think about the media.

  24. Anonymous

    It was reported early on that the bomber’s roommate had a job with the athletic department. Has that fact been debunked also? If not, do Cathy and the WSJ believe that it was just another strange coincidence?

    Rather than bloggers crying “Wolf”. this seems to be the case of certain columnists playing Chief Wiggim.

  25. njoriole

    Uh, how about the extra bottles of explosives found in Hinrich’s room, which were subsequently detonated by the cops, causing such an explosion that the earth shook? Is this inconsequential? of no real import? I (like everyone else) don’t know exactly what this disturbed individual was REALLY up to, but asking for more details, and insisting that the MSM do its job, is hardly “crying wolf.”

  26. Moneyrunner

    Cathy,

    I read your comments and find them short on proof and long on assertions. This suicide is very, very unusual in terms of its means, it occurred in proximity to a large crowd, and was preceded by a suspicious attempt to obtain large quantities of a dangerous explosive.

    As others have already pointed out, there is no need to assume a criminal conspiracy, just an ideological pre-disposition. Numerous examples of that have been cited.

    I’m sorry, the day of uncritically accepting the media’s explanations based on unspecified sources went south after Jason Blair and Dan Rather. Today we need more than the media’s “trust me.”

    Click HERE

  27. Anonymous

    He lived near a mosque, he grew a beard, he had a Pakistani room mate. Certainly these are coincidences. Perhaps it is also a coincidence that he used TATP explosive.

    It may be that there are nihilist pamphlets advocating the use of TATP. I don’t know, but I certainly think it is an unusual choice of explosive.

    C

  28. Anonymous

    Try this easy, simple mind experiment:

    Imagine, just for a moment, that the explosives had misfired – detonated in the student’s car while he was out taking a leak, or screwing up the courage to die, lets say. This scenario works no matter what you believe the student’s purpose was.

    Now, imagine said student in front of a judge, trying to convince him that he wasn’t planning on murdering anyone, despite the request for the components of a fertilizer bomb, the powerful explosives already in his apartment, and the proximity to the stadium where he ‘just happened’ to be next to tens of thousands of people.

    I’m thinking johnnie boy needs a REALLY good lawyer, don’t you?

    This demonstrates just how mind-boggling stupid you have to be, to casually dismiss that evidence.

    And in my experience, people aren’t that stupid unless it’s on purpose: unless they HAVE to ignore what’s in front of their faces if they are to believe what they ALREADY want to believe. Its a form of dishonesty.

    Case closed.

  29. Cathy Young

    Security cameras at the stadium captured no evidence of Hinchrichs attempting to enter the stadium. Nor is there any evidence that he tried to buy a ticket.

    In fact, according to a poster who saw the local news reports, this is the entire basis for the claim that Hinrichs tried to enter the stadium:

    The library security guard, who talked to a gate security guard, who told him that a guy tried to get in the stadium with a backpack but ran off after refusing to let them search it. This was before Hinrichs was identified, and the gate guard didn’t give a description.

    Revenant: It now turns out that there was a suicide note.

    Regarding the additional explosives found in Hinrich’s apartment: what, exactly, does that prove? If he was planning to commit a suicide bombing/mass murder, he clearly wasn’t going to use the additional explosives. If he planned to take a lot of people with him, wouldn’t he have built as powerful a bomb as possible?

    There is simply no evidence at this point that Hinrichs tried to harm anyone but himself. Jeff Medcalf at Caerdroia points out that if Hinrichs had wanted to kill others he could have gone to a crowded nearby pub. He could also have waited until the game was over and the crowd started pouring out of the stadium.

    As far as I know, there is also no credible evidence that he had converted to Islam or was in possession of “jihadist literature.”

    That someone sees a sinister relevance in the possibility that Hinrich’s rooomate had a job with the university’s athletic department further confirms, at least to me, what a paranoid grasping for straws we have in the attempt to frame this incident as “Islamic terrorism.” Suppose his roommate did work for the athletic department. And the relevance of that is ….?

    To Dave Schuler and others who point out the secrecy and lack of MSM coverage: interesting points. I’ll have something to say about this a bit later.

  30. Meryl Yourish

    Holy crap! I work with a lot of Pakistanis, and there’s an Iranian guy down the hall.

    I better not buy any fertilizer, hey?

    Great post, Cathy.

  31. TallDave

    this is the entire basis for the claim that Hinrichs tried to enter the stadium:

    Well, except for the fact he was at the stadium. Most people don’t go to a stadium because they enjoy the parking lot and plan to hang out there, suicidal or not.

    If he planned to take a lot of people with him, wouldn’t he have built as powerful a bomb as possible?

    I’m not giving a guy who blows himself up a lot of credit for good planning skills. Maybe he thought he had enough. Maybe that was as much as he could fit in his pack. Maybe he got bored halfway through. Who knows.

    I think there has been some paranoia and grasping… but there always is in the absence of facts. And no one is digging up those facts, which I think is the real problem. Maybe it turns out he was just depressed. It doesn’t look that way, but it’s not impossible. But we need to know.

    I think the note is interesting, as it could be read both ways since the note says he was angry, possibly meaning he was seeking to take that anger out on people:

    “his son used profanity in the message and was obviously very angry.”

    Not very depressed, very angry.

    We need more information. This deserves to be investigated.

  32. CGHill

    The mosque in Norman is located very near the campus; it’s a rare student who doesn’t live near it.

    Hinrichs’ Pakistani roommate, as I recall, was a finance major; obviously this doesn’t rule out the possibility of sympathy for jihadis, but most of the finance guys I know tend to be apolitical except to the extent that it affects the bottom line.

    And Hinrichs had been screwing around with explosives since he was a pup, it seems; seeking out a quantity of ammonium nitrate, arguably the best-known chemical compound in central Oklahoma, is a really good way to draw attention to yourself, and nothing in the lad’s actions suggest he wanted to go unnoticed.

  33. Cathy Young

    Just one more salient fact:

    Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole (a Republican) has unequivocally stated that, based on information he has received from the FBI, Hinrichs was not a terrorist but a troubled and deeply depressed young man.

    To the “anonymous” who posted just before me: You raise an interesting scenario. Yes, if Hinrichs had been caught with the explosives while he was still alive, 100 yards from the packed football stadium, he would have had a very hard time proving that he did not intend to kill anyone other than himself. But what does that prove, other than the fact that sometimes improbable scenarios are true? He did kill himself, and he made no attempt that we know of to harm anyone else in the process.

  34. Monkberrymoon

    “But what does that prove, other than the fact that sometimes improbable scenarios are true?”

    Maybe it proves he’s the most incompetent bomber since the shoe bomber (or, for that matter, any number of Palestinians who stupidly blow themselves up too early).

  35. Anonymous

    Ya know, there’s still lots of “unanswered questions” about the Kennedy assassination. Why is the MSM ignoring those?

    Bloggers, including the sainted Glenn Reynolds, have hyped this Oklahoma story to no end. Reynolds has also been flogging the idea that we’re all about to die from avian flu.

    They blather on about the lack of MSM credibility, and ignore the telephone pole in their own eye.

    Yeah, blogs. The greatest thing goin’.

    Dexter Westbrook dexter_westbrook@yahoo.com

  36. The Sanity Inspector

    Congratulations on the Instalanche, Cathy.

    Idle speculation is wrong, of course (though that didn’t stop wild stories from coming out of New Orleans during the hurricane). But a suicide bomber on American soil should have been a permanent front page story from then ’til now. But no, that would have crowded installment #1,234 of Abu Ghraib analysis out.

  37. beAzl

    If I recall, the WSJ editorial page flogged the Vince Foster suicide relentlessly, so they are not immune to feverish speculation.

    I think bloggers need to remind themselves that they are no better, and in some cases, no worse, than the professional journalists they are “competing against,” as far as unearthing the truth. Your post does a good job of bringing that point home.

    The bloggers’ strength lies in the sheer volume and size of the community, and the incredible speed with which ideas can be considered and debunked.

    As a blog “consumer”, I think it’s pretty well understood that most blogs don’t abide by the same journalist standards that the MSM (supposedly) follows, and most readers don’t expect them to. The blog creed, as I understand it, is put what you know or think you know out there, without attaching a tremendous amount of personal reputation or ego to it, let others poke holes, publicize the holes, and hopefully out of this messy process the truth will emerge. The betting is that perhaps in some cases the truth will emerge faster and more cheaply than it would with a lone, professional, reporter with a significant budget, who doesn’t write anything until (s)he is extremely confident about the story.

    It can be fun watching the “online investigation” transpire, even if many of the investigations ultimately lead nowhere.

    The unwelcomed attention the family has received is certainly regrettable, but on the other hand, maybe the next person contemplating blowing himself up 100 yards from a crowded campus football stadium will not do so, out of love for his family.

    The blogging phenomenon has many parallels with the open source software movement, which has existed for much longer, and is now really an established part of the computer industry. Many software components are only available via open-source, and aren’t even commercially available. While originally the movement was driven by an “anti-Microsoft” vendetta, it has matured to the point that even many Microsoft products benefit from open-source add-on tools.

    The open-source developers are not “better” than the software engineers at Microsoft. There are just a lot more of them. Trying out a radically new software idea that bombs is not committing career suicide. It’s Darwinism on steroids. It’s messy, but it works.

  38. Mr. Snitch

    Our experience has been: Don’t hold your breath waiting for Malkin to admit she got her facts wrong. Won’t happen. In that regard, she’s as bad as anyone she’s ever covered.

  39. jason

    Perhaps instead of asking why he wanted ammonium nitrate you should be asking how much was he trying to buy. That would provide a much better insight into what he was planning. There is no way I see yet to tell if he detonated the bomb on purpose or if it was premature while waiting for the crowd to get out. I would wager if he was rooming with a skinhead and shaved his head before his death most would have little problem of finding his motivation.

  40. Typewriter King

    Hi, everyone. I’ve searched everywhere for some sign of Hinrichs online, and haven’t come up with anything, but then I saw the first comment on this entry. So I have a question for everybody. Do any of you know the identity of the Georgia Tech bomber’s Myspace account?

  41. Patterico

    Your post says:

    “As it turns out, the only truth in all this is that Hinrichs had, indeed, inquired about buying ammonium nitrate at a local store two days before his suicide, and had given evasive and suspect answers about why he needed it.”

    Yet the WSJ article “debunking” the blogs has this fact buried deep in the story:

    “In fact, authorities did find, in Mr. Hinrichs’s bedroom, additional explosive material. They detonated them at the police firing range the next day, jolting the city again.”

    Some people have pointed this out in the comments, and you have argued that it doesn’t prove anything.

    Maybe not to you — but I find it very curious indeed that you excluded this fact from the list of things that you claim constitute “the only truth in all this.”

    Had you included the fact of the left-behind explosives, it would have made it more difficult to ridicule the theory that this fellow was out to murder others. Your characterization of the “truth” would become much less supportive of your view. And, I suspect, *that* is the reason you omitted it — not because you really believed it had no tendency in reason or logic to support suspicions.

  42. tom scott

    Cathy sez,”The other claims were a lot of rumor-mongering and speculation, all firmly denied by both the FBI and the university authorities and often based on laughably far-fetched “clues.”Then goes on to say in comments:”Why was it then that he tried to buy the fertilizer?
    I assume it’s because he was planning to commit suicide by bomb?” Yup, just keep moving along. No irony here.
    Assume. Don’t make an ASS outa’ U and Me.

  43. rastajenk

    I see more good questions raised and unanswered than I see misconceptions debunked by facts. Hardly what I would call a successful post.

  44. Cathy Young

    Patterico, you may ascribe to me whatever motives you wish, but I can assure that the reason I did not mention the additional explosives found in Hinrichs’s room is that I found this fact to be extremely insignificant (if not exculpatory, in the sense that he clearly could have built a more powerful bomb than he did). The guy blew himself up with a homemade bomb. He had some leftover explosive materials. Hardly surprising (and a very far cry from initial reports of a second explosive device).

    By the way, I love how a Pakistani, merely by virtue of his national origin, becomes the equivalent of a “skinhead” and growing a beard becomes the equivalent of shaving one’s head.

    TallDave: Why isn’t the media looking for the facts? I believe The Wall Street Journal published the facts, they’re just not facts you like.

    dave schuler and beazl, I will reply to your comments in a separate blog post. Thanks.

  45. Anonymous

    The assertions for saying this piece of garbage was a terrorist are pretty flimsy, a lot of if’s and unanswered questions. I bet Malkin will say that the guy who served Henrich a chocalate ice cream cone at 31 Flavors had been seen near a mosque and should be investigated. This blogosphere is starting to turn into Coast to Coast AM.
    Heh.

  46. Scott

    Cathy said:
    “I can assure that the reason I did not mention the additional explosives found in Hinrichs’s room is that I found this fact to be extremely insignificant (if not exculpatory, in the sense that he clearly could have built a more powerful bomb than he did). “

    Article said:
    “In fact, authorities did find, in Mr. Hinrichs’s bedroom, additional explosive material. They detonated them at the police firing range the next day, jolting the city again.”

    Cathy Said:
    He had some leftover explosive materials.

    Am I the only one that finds it kinda odd that his “leftover explosive materials” “Jolted the city”????
    Doesn’t sound like leftovers to me.

  47. Cathy Young

    “Jolting the city” sounds like a figure of speech to me (the first blast was fairly minor, and reportedly didn’t even destroy the bench Hinrichs sat on). I will email the Wall Street Journal reporters and ask what they meant by this.

  48. Anonymous

    People,
    You’re missing the *real* opportunity to get the important facts here:
    Does the Pakistani roommate get an automatic 4.0 GPA for the term, or doesn’t he?

  49. Cathy Young

    Just a couple of additional points, folks…

    Dexter: I’ve never thought of Glenn Reynolds as a candidate for sainthood, but I don’t think he “endlessly flogged” this story, unless we have different definitions of what “endlessly flogging” means.

    The sanity inspector:

    Idle speculation is wrong, of course (though that didn’t stop wild stories from coming out of New Orleans during the hurricane). But a suicide bomber on American soil should have been a permanent front page story from then ’til now.

    In other words: idle speculation is wrong, but it should have been on the front pages every day?

  50. Jazz

    The right wing is only successful if they can keep America filled with fear and biased hatred. You want to say that it was the kid’s intention to blow up other people in addition to himself? Fine. You want to call him a “terrorist” for that? Feel free, if you like. But that means that the kids who shot up Columbine high school, Jeffrey Dalmer, John Wayne Gacy and everyone else who ever killed more than five people is a “terrorist.” If that’s the criteria you want to use, then fine and dandy. Ok, the kid was a “terrorist.”

    Unfortunately, that now gives the right wing blogosphere license to lump him in with The All Powerful And Evil Forces Of Islam Who Are Right Now Conspiring To Rape Your Cattle And Stampede Your Womenfolk. (And remember, anyone who is born into or converts to Islam, lives near a mosque, owns a toolbelt with more than five nails in it or wears a headband that hangs down far enough that you might confuse it for an Islamic headdress item is automatically A Terrorist Who Hates America And Wants Us All To Burn In The Flames Of The Prophet’s Almighty Judgement.)

    Do you notice how it wasn’t good enough for this kid to be a suicide or even a suicide bomber? Doesn’t fit the right wing agenda. He HAD to have ties to Islam or he simply didn’t fit in with the message.

    Did you know that Jack the Ripper was a Muslim? Man, those bastards have been plotting against us since the Victorian era.

  51. spongeworthy

    “Additional explosive material” that is later referred to as “them” when their detonation is described seems to me to be almost certainly blasting caps. What’s that prove? Very little except that you would buy caps in boxes of multiple caps and not individually.

    And if you’re looking for Why the coverup then? look no farther than the FBI, since authorities were alerted to his attempt to purchase fertilizer. Being unable to prevent his explosion they have some egg on their face whether he’s a terrorist or not. But mostly if he is.

    All that said, I tend to think he was not an Islamonutter.

    spongeworthy

  52. TWM

    It seems that the MSM and many other people are obsessed with the requirement that a person have ties to known Islamic terrorist groups as a precursor to that person being a terrorist.

    Well, there does not have to be a tie to any known terrorist group for a person to be a terrorist. The person can be a lone wolf — someone who for whatever reason shares the ideology of a group (radical Islam in these cases) but who acts on his or her own. Since the tie is not there to prove you can search forever and not find it.

    But that does not make the person any less a threat or any less a terrorist.

  53. Anonymous

    One other thought occurs to me.

    Was he keeping up with his homework?

    At this point I am leaning toward the theory that Hinrichs was planning on bombing the stadium–not necessarily to kill people but to create a panic attack–and the bomb went off prematurely. TATP is notoriously unstable, according to reports. That would explain the extra explosive in his room, too.

    So it would be very interesting to get a look at his computer and see whether he was keeping up with his homework, term papers, registering for next session’s classes, making plans for future dates, etc. If he was a true suicide, then certainly by the day he tried to buy the ammonium nitrate he was ready to go through with it and I would expect him to have checked out of his normal routines.

  54. Monkberrymoon

    “I believe The Wall Street Journal published the facts, they’re just not facts you like.”

    The problem with this is, at least in reference to the alleged Islamist connection, we’re supposed to be satisfied with him saying simply that it isn’t true. When pressed as to why he believes this unequivocally, he refuses to say who his sources are.

    So we have:

    (1) Some anonymous (or as NIN says, “confidential”) sources say Hinrichs was Muslim

    (2) Some Arab dude at OU says he never heard of him

    (3) Some anonymous (or as Joe Hagan says, “confidential”) sources say he was not a Muslim.

    I agree that it’s more likely than not that he was not a Muslim, but I think it’s a mistake to say conclusively one way or the other. I mean, maybe Hagan believes it conclusively (perhaps his source is the Prophet himself), but I don’t see why I should have to take him at his word. The same goes for NIN.

  55. growler

    Why is it a whole 15 days until the father tells the media about the supposed suicide “note?” I write “note” because supposedly all that was found was a single line of text on his computer, with the cursor blinking at the end of the line. How are we to know Joel even typed that himself? His father said, “The line of text on his computer was short, but it was to the point, very vulgar, and it was a sort of farewell.” Since when does “a sort of farewell” = “I’m going to commit suicide? How come the father was repeatedly quoted as saying the FBI told him there was no suicide note left. Now, all of a sudden, he says they read him the “note” over the phone. Does not add up.

  56. Anonymous

    Cathy wrote
    “As far as I know, there is also no credible evidence that he had converted to Islam “

    Here is a News at 9 video that says
    “sources say he attended this mosque”

    http://newsok.com/video/1633830/

  57. Dymphna

    I’m in the group of bloggers who are asking questions. We are not ‘crying wolf’– I believe that is the moral of that tale was that the little boy lied repeatedly and then wasn’t believed when there was a real wolf? In what way does that connect with worried questions? Are bloggers who ask questions liars somehow? I don’t get the equation here.

    I will continue asking questions. I may get answers or I may not. We’ll probably have to wait for history to sort out the answers because I doubt we’ll get anything from the people in charge.

    The FBI *did* pressure the local TV station to lay off; they’ve said as much. The FBI is the same organization who brought you wiretaps of Martin Luther King, etc., and had their own search warrant ordered sealed by the court. It is appropriate to ask why but the FBI refuses to answer.

    Hinrichs wanted several hundred poinds of ammonium nitrate. He was maybe a chemistry major?

    Why do we know nothing of Hinrich’s academic life? What graduating class was he in? Had he taken any time off from school or had he been there without interruption since high school? In other words, are there any unaccounted-for gaps of time in his academic career?

    These questions are not invasions of privacy. Mr. Hinrichs gave up his right to privacy by endangering the public. As one commenter said, if he was before a judge he’d have some questions to answer. During his trial, the questions I raise would have been brought up by any prosecutor. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean the questions shouldn’t be answered.

    Since we live just a short ride from a Jamaat al Fuqra training compound, I have urgent questions about domestic safety — questions it scares me to ask because it means sticking my head over the parapet and being noticed.

    JF is a nasty, nasty group and it has compounds all over the country, usually in relatively isolated, rural areas. Having gone to the area of one of them, looked around and asked questions, I’m even more concerned. The people in the area definitely don’t want to know too much and one resident said Social Services refuses to investigate why the girl children in this compound are not in school. No one would permit us to use their real names — they’re that afraid.

    Interestingly, in the month following 9/11 these guys put up a gate house and a sign in Arabic. A local says they patrol the perimeters of their property,armed, but we didn’t go far enough down the country road to see.

    I’m old enough (barely) to remember when decent folks gave crazy old Joe MCarthy the bum’s rush because he went over the top in his anti-Commie bash. While he wasn’t the soundest bell in the tower, his concerns turned out to be legitimate after all.

    These are not “foreigners”; these are American citizens, Islamists who follow Pakistani Sheikh Gillani. S.G. curently languishes in jail in Lahore for his part in the Daniel Pearl execution — it was this guy that Pearl was going to interview when he went missing.

    Gillani’s version of Islam calls for the cleansing-of-infidels kind of jihad and his group has been convicted of numerous murders of Hindus in this country, mainly out West.

    He first set up shop in the US in 1980 and his headquarters are in Hancock, NY. Now there are compounds in many states –Georgia, Colorado, Tennessee, all over the mid-Atlantic coast, and some in New England. The compound in VA is thought to have been where the Beltway Sniper went to ground between rampages.

    Here’s some info on the group.

  58. Anonymous

    No one trusts the MSM to choose the right stories to cover. If chatter in the blogosphere helps expose or debunk the story, everyone wins.

  59. Revenant

    Revenant: It now turns out that there was a suicide note

    Well, not really. The father claims his son left a one-sentence suicide message, but nobody else seems to have seen it, he didn’t save it, and he doesn’t remember the wording. It isn’t useful evidence of suicide (particularly since the father has a powerful motive to view his son as a victim of depression, rather than as a potential mass-murderer).

  60. Cathy Young

    The father says that the note was read to him by the FBI.

    Incidentally, with regard to the theory that Hinrichs was not necessarily a member of a terror network but possibly a lone-wolf terrorist motivated by radical Islam: the FBI has said that at least so far, they have found no link to any terrorist group or activity. I think the latter rules out the “lone terrorist” theory.

  61. MrPhil

    Cathy: So you update every link whenever it gets updated? I looked at your complaint about Ms Malkin not updating her post, and I don’t think that’s a good example of her needing to correct the record.
    Your post was interesting, but I think would have been better titled “Much Ado About (Probably) Nothing”. Tho after reading it, I didn’t learn anything new (and I read most all of the blogs that were said to “Cry Wolf”). The other questions like the “there was no note” “Oh, sorry it was on his computer” change and the sealed warrants, among other curious things about this. (Of course, since it is unusual for someone to suicide by bomb in the first place, the whole thing is curious, fortunately so.)

  62. Monkberrymoon

    “the FBI has said that at least so far, they have found no link to any terrorist group or activity. I think the latter rules out the ‘lone terrorist’ theory.”

    I don’t think the FBI’s statement is very helpful unless we know what their definition of “terrorist activity” actually is. IIRC, they also classified that ass-clown Syrian (okay, American of Syrian descent) who flew a plane into a building in Florida, and that El Al shooting guy as “non-terrorist incidents.” I think, then, their definition excludes everyone who isn’t an according-to-Hoyle member of some terrorist group (and is acting at their behest). Or maybe they’re inconsistent. Who knows.

  63. Cathy Young

    MrPhil: No, I don’t update every link when it gets updated. But if I made a post implying that there was a possible terrorist incident, and the initial story had been corrected to say that it was not, I most certainly would have updated my post.

  64. Anonymous

    To paraphrase ALL the righties who think this poor boy was a terrorist: Help! Help! The paranoids are after me!

  65. Ken Wheaton

    You know…. great post and all, but…
    http://kenwheaton.blogspot.com/2005/10/bitter-party-of-one.html

    Just saying.

    (But really. Good post. As long as sanity gets out there somehow.)

  66. Dymphna

    BTW, the “excellent post” by Caerdroia was written by a fellow who ought to have recused himself from the conversation. He was a member of the same fraternity as Mr. Hinrichs. This relationship, however tenuous, makes his point of view questionable.

    A one line suicide note seen only on a computer screen by the FBI, with no screen capture available would not be acceptable by a reasonable person as clear evidence.

    When
    (i) the Joint Terrorism Task Force signs off on this case and
    (ii)the search warrant is unsealed, and
    (iii)the whereabouts of Mr. Hinrichs in the years since he graduated from high school are accounted for by a reliable source, someone other than those already involved in their own version of events,

    then we could say there is nothing connected to terrorism in this story. Until then, why the rush to judgment?

    Since when did it become unreasonable to ask questions?

    All the “allegeds” in this story haven’t been answered, they’ve simply been dismissed. Saracasm, ad hominem attacks, reductio ad absurdum dismissals of valid concerns, and impugning of others’ motives — all of which I’ve seen here in the comments — fail to address any of the questions raised.

    It looks like this is one of those Schiavo moments: people will believe as they wish and the sides will line up, philosophies and arguments in hand. Everyone will wait for their turn to interrupt.

    So it goes — it’s just one more part of the on-going national dialogue…ummm, I mean the mutual monologue that passes for public discourse.

  67. Cathy Young

    dymphna, maybe “we” know nothing about Joel Hindrich’s academic life because there’s nothing to know?

    By the way, I suggest you check out the link Kevin Wheaton posted. You’ll find some interesting information there, including the fact Hinrichs did not have a beard for several months prior to his suicide.

    And may I also suggest that when people seriously argue that a Pakistani roommate and a beard are grounds for suspicion, they invite sarcasm and dismissal?

    I am certainly not denying that there is a real threat of Islamic terrorism in the U.S. Just because the boy cried wolf doesn’t mean there was no wolf.

    Your McCarthy analogy, actually, is instructive. McCarthy was right about the Communist threat; but he was wrong about a lot of specific individuals. As a result, many innocent people suffered, and anti-communism got a wholly undeserved bad name.

  68. Dan Kauffman

    “I can assure that the reason I did not mention the additional explosives found in Hinrichs’s room is that I found this fact to be extremely insignificant (if not exculpatory, in the sense that he clearly could have built a more powerful bomb than he did). The guy blew himself up with a homemade bomb. He had some leftover explosive materials”

    Extra explosives were found in the London bombers vehicles, you are simply creating your own “assumption” to explain the facts.

    Another assumption could be that neither the London bombers nor this boy “planned” to suicide. That they had other plans for the yet unused explosives. That a larger bomb was not made proves nothing.

  69. Cathy Young

    There’s one minor difference. The London suicide bombers blew themselves up (or were blown up with remote-controlled devices, as some suspect) in the middle of a crowd of people and killed a lot of them. Hindrichs was sitting on a bench. There is simply no evidence that he tried to harm anyone other than himself.

  70. Dymphna

    Cathy young said:
    dymphna, maybe “we” know nothing about Joel Hindrich’s academic life because there’s nothing to know?..

    There is information to be learned in any academic life when someone kills himself. A good friend of my son’s killed himself in his dorm room last year. You can bet the police checked out his academic record to see if there were clues to his suicide. BTW, he shot himself in his room — no cache of explosives and nothing done in public using a recipe that Islamic bombers have used repeatedly.

    A psychiatrist commented here on your post that in all his years of work, he’d never seen a similar method of offing oneself…sure is peculiar.

    Soo. Can you tell us why you know there’s nothing to see in his academic record? Some light on the subject might even lower the concern that this was more than just a suicide or someone “playing with explosives.”

    I ask again, can all of his time since high school be accounted for? Were there any breaks in it –one investigator says he left in 2002 and didn’t return till Spring of 2005.

    Is this true? Do you think the school will tell us, or will they mouth pieties about privacy? Privacy for someone who wouldn’t have *any* had he been discovered with this lethal backpack before he detonated.

    This is a creepy story. There are more contradictions than there are “facts” because the lid has been clamped on.

    Again, why the premature rush to shut off the dialogue? This happened on October 1st and already we’re supposed to let it go and move on to the next 15 minutes of news cycle?

    I say this story deserves at least as much attention from the media, and as much scrutiny of everyone involved as was generated by the Cindy Sheehan story. This one has far more hooks than hers ever did.

  71. ihasch

    I posted a comment two days ago and I noticed a response. The first is that a source said that the security cameras captured no evidence of Hinrich trying to enter the stadium. I do have some questions, such as: What security cameras are being referred to? What area do these cameras cover? Are all the entrances covered? How many entrances are there? What is the picture quality of the picture this system produces? Were there gaps? Could they see Hinrich at the point of the explosion and tracf his movements? Having seen one too many “Americas Most Wanteds” where criminals cannot be identified even at close range despite surveillance cameras, this evidence may not be as impressive as it seems. Again, that something cannot be confirmed is not tantamount to it being unfounded. So far we have what at best could be an inconclusive surveillance tape, an unconfirmed report that someone had tried to enter the stadium and run off. And finally we have an explosion a 100 yards from the stadium, a location that should raise suspicions. In other words, what this adds up to are legitimate questions that in the absence of media coverage engender speculation. And by the way: do they know what he was wearing before he blew himself up.
    As to the suicide note, this shows nothing conclusive one way or the other. A suicide bomber by definition wants to kill him/herself. Many of them do in fact leave messages behind. Now if the note says something concrete about his motives, fair enough. If not, then there is really nothing to be gained by highlighting its alleged existence. Also, being depressed is not irreconciliable with a homocidal intention. Just ask the passengers on that Egyptian airliner.

  72. Cathy Young

    There is information to be learned in any academic life when someone kills himself. A good friend of my son’s killed himself in his dorm room last year. You can bet the police checked out his academic record to see if there were clues to his suicide.

    So do you have any reason to believe that the police, and in this case the FBI/counterterrorism task force, have not made such inquiries about Joel Hinrichs?

  73. bioqubit

    Thank you for helping me sort you out. You are on the stupid list and have no credibility with me.

    The cover-up is as plain as day.

    You are all about downplaying, not debunking. You are all about avoiding asking the right questions. You are all about denial of what is right under your nose. Breath deep.

  74. Jim Online

    The FBI is at it again. Another investigation to this unending battle against terrorism. The sad thing is that innocent people are implicated. I suggest that there has to be a law on this. Needless to say, something has to be done.

  75. Johnny

    It’s hard to believe no one stopped the men in rain suits yet.

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