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Why Did CBS Scrub A Story About Army Spy Planes Capturing the Times Square Bomber?
May 7, 2010

UPDATE: So I Asked Someone…

I asked someone about this situation. Why not use the cell network?

Don’t ask me who this person is, but he responded. He calls his response a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess), but let’s just say that this person’s wild ass guess would be much more informed on these matters than your or my wild ass guesses would be:

Weird but my guess may be that it may be too much hassle(or time) to get a carrier involved. This is the usual problem where systems and agencies cannot be instantly connected on demand. It might also be difficult to triangulate on a person in a city with fixed ground stations. In an urban environment you get a ton of reflections and it could be difficult to pinpoint a particular emission. In any event I was not aware of the type of s i g i n t they have on planes nowadays. Interesting.

—End Update—

If they had his mobile device identified, why not use the triangulation data from the cell sites? It wouldn’t surprise me that military aircraft were used in the manner described below, but I don’t understand why that would have been required, given what we know about how easily mobile phones may be used for geolocation.

Maybe the .mil eye in the sky would be able to pinpoint the target on the ground more accurately than the triangulation data from the mobile network. Just a guess.

This is very interesting, in any event.

Via: Gawker:

Yesterday, we reported on the curious disappearance of a WCBS report that military spy planes had been used to capture the Times Square bomber. Why was this story scrubbed? We have the answer. Sort of.

The original article, “Army Intelligence Planes Led to Suspect’s Arrest,” by Marcia Kramer, read:

In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Then, a few minutes after we wrote about it, the article was rewritten with no mention of spy planes, and no indication it had been updated. Spooky! We asked WCBS what happened, and a spokesman responded:

The story that was broadcast by WCBS-TV did not include any mention of a military plane, although the station did have unconfirmed information about the use of a plane that we looked into but were unable to confirm. A line about the use of military aircraft was inadvertently included in the story that appeared on the station’s Web site but was removed.

According to WCBS, they simply got caught up in the frenzy of breaking news and “inadvertently” put in an unconfirmed detail. There is a problem with this account: The detail about the Army intelligence planes was featured prominently in the title of the originally article. Clearly, the line wasn’t “inadvertently included”—it was put in and deliberately promoted. After all, it was the most eye-catching detail of the story.

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