New York Times Revises ‘Garbled’ San Bernardino Report

Times’ report on shooters’ talking openly about Jihad on social media panned by FBI as inaccurate

Last Updated: December 18, 2015 @ 8:19 AM

The New York Times revised a headline and parts of a Sunday report on the San Bernardino shooters’ proclamations of jihad on social media after the FBI panned it as inaccurate “garble.”

The report said that Tashfeen Malik had “talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad” and that her postings over the year had been missed by law enforcement.

The Times’ story went further, suggesting security officials dropped the ball. “Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept [Malik] out of the country,” the Times wrote, concluding the “deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001” might have been prevented.

But FBI Director James Comey fired back at the Times, saying the shooters’ communications online were private and never made public on social media.

“We have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period in time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom,” he said on Wednesday. “I’ve seen some reporting on that, and that’s a garble.”

The Times “revised” the story, changing the headline from “Visa Screening Missed an Attacker’s Zealotry on Social Media” to “U.S. Visa Process Missed San Bernardino Wife’s Online Zealotry.”

In an editor’s note, the paper noted that the FBI disputed its story, saying communication between Malik and Syed Farook involved “direct, private messages” rather than open jihadi sentiments on social media.

“Ms. Malik’s comments to Mr. Farook about violent jihad were made on a messaging platform, officials said. Neither Mr. Comey nor other officials identified the specific platforms that were used. (This article and headline have been revised to reflect the new information.)”

As of Friday morning, there’s been no correction issued.

Read the full Times editor’s note below

The original version of this article, based on accounts from law enforcement officials, reported that Tashfeen Malik had “talked openly on social media” about her support for violent jihad.

On Wednesday, however, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that online communications about jihad by Ms. Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, involved “direct, private messages.” His remarks indicated that the comments about jihad were not made in widely accessible social media posts.

Law enforcement officials subsequently told The Times that Ms. Malik communicated with her husband in emails and private messages, and on a dating site. Ms. Malik’s comments to Mr. Farook about violent jihad were made on a messaging platform, officials said. Neither Mr. Comey nor other officials identified the specific platforms that were used. (This article and headline have been revised to reflect the new information.)

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