September 21, 2015

Should there be any discussion of whether Ahmed Mohamed actually "invented" his clock and what his true motives might have been?

I've avoided that discussion because I think the authorities, by egregiously overreacting to what was at worst a minor disciplinary problem, have drawn the exclusive focus on themselves.

At some point, I'm willing to criticize other adults for using a child to further their own political agendas, even as they celebrate the boy. The moral lodestar here is the welfare of the child.

I'm posting to explain my position because I'm seeing the famous know-it-all Richard Dawkins losing his bearings:
In a tweet, the scientist linked to a YouTube video entitled Ahmed Mohammed [sic] Clock is a FRAUD, in which user Thomas Talbot alleges Mohamed’s clock “is in fact not an invention. The ‘clock’ is a commercial bedside alarm clock removed from its casing”.

In his tweet, Dawkins said: “If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so.” His next tweet said of the video: “This man seems to know what he’s talking about.”...

Dawkins eventually retreated.... “Sorry if I go a bit over the top in my passion for truth. Not just over a boy’s alleged ‘invention’ but also media lies about J[eremy] Corbyn.”
Dawkins seems awfully emotional in his posturing over his love for truth, so let me proclaim a greater love for truth. Here are 2 truths for which Dawkins showed insufficient passion:

1.  The question whether the clock was an "invention" should be recognized as a debate about the meaning of a word. It's ridiculous to badger a 14-year-old about a linguistic point.

2. The annoyance at calling the clock an "invention" should be recognized as a dispute with the adults who overplayed their enthusiasm over the child's brilliance and technological prowess. A child whose self-esteem is not perfectly aligned with the level of his accomplishments might have a problem, but, if so, it's nothing for strangers to be sticking their nose into.

227 comments:

1 – 200 of 227   Newer›   Newest»
MayBee said...

I agree with your point 2. But this:

1. The question whether the clock was an "invention" should be recognized as debate about the meaning of words. It's ridiculous to badger a 14-year-old about a linguistic point.

doesn't go far enough for me. The question about whether it was an 'invention' also goes toward the kid's motive. Was he trying to show off, but has insufficient skills? Or was he trying to be troublesome (some kids do this, you know!)

exhelodrvr1 said...

The issue is his motive; that could include deliberately inaccurate use of "invention"

B said...

Now I want to travel back in time and berate my 12-year-old self for his lousy science fair project. You call that a control group, you twit?

Anthony said...

Dawkins is off base bitching about whether this was an "invention" or not. The discussion should be about whether he made this to get the response he did -- make something that looks like a bomb to get the authorities to overreact and the media to go full-on Islamophobia screaming -- and also school zero-tolerance policies.

Of course, it's been about neither.

tim maguire said...

The central point here is that Ahmed never claimed it was a bomb, the school knew it wasn't a bomb when they called the police, and the police knew it wasn't a bomb when they arrested Ahmed.

Ahmed's accomplishments and his father's intentions are an entirely separate point that should be dealt with (if at all) separately. Not least, if we go down this line of questioning is that, while they may have set a trap for the school, the real transgression was still by the school when it eagerly walked into that trap.

Jane the Actuary said...

I wrote about this over the weekend, here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetheactuary/2015/09/on-the-clock-bomb-hoaxes-and-thoughtcrime.html

and among the things I said was this: it is indeed possible that this was intended to be a prank, or to bait the school officials and the cops, so as to claim "Islamophobia" and garner sympathy or cash. But the officials shouldn't have taken the bait. After all, their claim was not "we thought it was a bomb" but "we think he might later try to trick someone into thinking it's a bomb" -- that is, suspecting him of maybe doing something later.

And a commenter wrote this:

as a parent and as an engineering educat[or] (mostly at the college level, but I have done some work teaching high-school and middle-school kids in outreach settings).

I would expect a 9th grader to consider taking apart a consumer device and repackaging it in a new case to be "making" a clock, and to consider things he makes to be his "inventions". (Why the scare quotes? Because neither word is generally considered to apply to taking apart a consumer device and repackaging it. However, that is not a distinction I expect a 13/14/15 year old to make.)

Which was a useful corrective to the criticisms. On the other hand, everyone falling over themselves to cite him as the next Bill Gates, a true genius, is a bit foolish. There's a robotics team at the local high school, and I would guess that they'd see this as a fairly weak demonstration of skill.

Birkel said...

Pedantry in pursuit of argumentation is the hobgoblin of law professors' minds.

And if I close my eyes the entire world disappears, exclaims the five year old pretending at discovery.

Nonapod said...

We live in such oversensitive times, every over reaction is overreacted to, and that overreaction in turn is once again overreacted to in an absurd positive feedback loop. I think we've become addicted to self-righteousness. Richard Dawkins is certainly a self-righteousness junkie.

Jane the Actuary said...

And, yes, that's pretty much what Tim Maguire said, but in my defense, I didn't see his comment until I hit "publish."

m stone said...

If the "accomplishment" gets Ahmed an invite to the White House and the attention of Cook and Zuckerman, the story has gotten a lot bigger.

Behind every wide-eyed, enterprising 14-year old is a parent with a bigger brain, ego, and PR savvy.

Is someone playing the Muslim card here as well?

Martin said...

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20150921-mark-davis-ahmeds-parents-should-let-the-full-facts-come-out.ece

Ignorance is Bliss said...

tim maguire said...

The central point here is that Ahmed never claimed it was a bomb, the school knew it wasn't a bomb when they called the police, and the police knew it wasn't a bomb when they arrested Ahmed.

Which may be part of why he was never arrested for making a bomb. He was arrested for making a hoax bomb. It is entirely possible that he made a hoax bomb without ever claiming it was a bomb. In that case, his and his father's intentions are entirely on point.

Personally I don't believe he made a hoax bomb. ( I could be wrong, but I would need to see some evidence that he was trying to scare people with it. Based on reports so far, that does not seem to be the case. ) I would like to see the chain of events that led the police to arrest him. Who took it to the police? Who suggested that it was a hoax bomb? Etc.

tim in vermont said...

the 14-year old all-American schoolboy clockmaker who didn't make a clock at all and is the son of a belligerent Muslim activist and perennial Sudanese presidential candidate whose brother runs a trucking company amusingly called Twin Towers Transportation - Mark Steyn

It is a clock tricked out with some trouble taken to make it look like a bomb.

Maybe Steyn is lying and should be sued... but it doesn't really look as innocent as it is being made out to be.

Ken B said...

This is just off base. You made a great fuss that it was not a hoax bomb. You implied stupidity in anyone who described it that way. Can we be so sure? There is some element of hoax here. He passed it off as an invention, and it wasn't. Those poo-pooing any notion of a hoax called it an invention, trying to seize some high ground, trying to make the others look backward.

So, could it have been intended as a joke, to look like a cliched bomb? "haha it's just a clock!" Because if so the school folks look a little less silly don't they.
And as for the welfare of the child. Puffing him up and letting him learn lies work is hardly in his best interest.

I have no idea what was going on. Maybe he just used the wrong word, maybe he was just trying to impress a techer. Or maybe something else. I do not know which. But you seem to think you do. How?

bleh said...

I feel the school behaved as expected because of the fear that some people might be scared of Ahmed's "suitcase clock." Remember, a public school in America is the type of place where a student can be suspended for writing a short story about shooting a dinosaur with a gun. It's the police who badly handled the situation.

Obama inserting himself into this diminishes the office, but this is not a surprise after countless other forays into pop culture by POTUS. Facebook and Google, the hip tech behemoths, are just trying to protect the bottom line by saying the rights things.

It bothers me that MIT seems to have offered Ahmed a spot in its freshman class after he's graduated in a few years. I hope they can walk that back and judge Ahmed when the time comes on his actual academic credentials.

In the end, I believe Ahmed's father has manipulated him into a stunt. They purposely refashioned a digital clock into something that looks like a bomb and hoped for the worst.

Rob said...

What he "invented" was a hoax bomb. Let's give his family the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn't put him up to it, that it was simply the harebrained idea of a typical fourteen year-old eager to see how much he could get away with. Arresting him was stupid, but it wasn't because he's Muslim, it was because the school has a zero-tolerance policy toward hoax bombs, which is defensible. The boy shouldn't get a trip to Google and the White House, he should get a trip to the woodshed.

Brando said...

I don't see where the "invention" issue matters--the fact is the kid brought some odd looking thing to school, and probably should have gotten permission to bring it in before he did. The school of course overreacts the same way they do these days with zero tolerance policies and insane fears of school violence (even though schools are far safer than they were thirty years ago), and had the kid arrested.

Whether the kid deserved a warning or a slap on the wrist isn't the issue--the issue is that our schools are zones of overreaction. Nowadays if you bring in a cookie carved into the shape of a gun you can get into trouble, because reasons.

It's time we take society back from these nutty statists.

Jason said...

My criticism of police and school officials stands even assuming the worst about this kid's motives: When you have law enforcement officers interrogating a 13 year old, you do not tell him he can't call his parents or an attorney.

"But we thought it was a ticking time bomb scenario."

Bullshit. You never thought that, and you never had any evidence that even points in that direction. You didn't evac the building. You interrogated the kid with the "bomb" sitting on the table and law enforcement put the "bomb" in a squad car. Nobody ever called the bomb squad. Nobody deployed any explosive-sniffing dogs. Nothing. You didn't even follow your own protocols, bitchez.

"We think he's causing trouble."

Accused troublemakers still have Constitutional rights, bitch. Indeed, it's people who are accused of being troublemakers who are themselves most in need of representation.

He's Muslim. His dad's been in the media before causing trouble.

Bitch, don't make me smack you. You don't get to determine who is and who isn't entitled to call an attorney or parent/guardian because of who their parents are.

Incidentally, some guitarist in Woodstock named Thomas accused me of being evil and an Islamist for pointing this out.

Anyway, Dawkins is a shitbird anyway. That much we've known for years.

CJinPA said...

Is it worth noting that the boy's father has put himself in many high-profile situations? That he's run for president of Sudan twice?

Or this:

Aside from his presidential bids, Mohamed also made headlines for his bizarre role in Rev. Terry Jones’ incendiary Quran trial. In 2012, when the Florida pastor made good on his threat to burn a Quran in his Gainesville church and put the Quran on “trial,” Mohamed, who refers to himself as a sheik, was apparently the one Muslim willing to play along as the defense in the mock trial.
http://www.okayafrica.com/news/istandwithahmed-mohamed-elhassan-mohamed-sudanese-father-backstory/


It's not a defense for the school's reaction, but it means...something.

MadisonMan said...

He was arrested for making a hoax bomb.

A law has been written that allows someone to be arrested for a hoax bomb.

I am curious how that law could be anything but wildly vague so as to allow just about anything to be construed as a hoax bomb.

Your honor, MadisonMan claims it's just a blog post, but it sure looks like a hoax bomb to me!!

Ann Althouse said...

"The issue is his motive; that could include deliberately inaccurate use of "invention"..."

Reread point #2.

Why are you concerning yourself with somebody's else's child? He should not be in the limelight at all, but he was thrust there by adults. You should not make an issue of his motivations.

Hagar said...

I am with Tim M.

I think it unlkely that Ahmed thought up this caper; some adult did, whether his father or someone else, and the kid is all excited playing along with the grown-ups. Kids do that.

And, as someone already commented, if the teachers thought it was a bomb, they should have put the school on lock-down immediately. Which they did not do, and IIRC, they indeed waited several hours before even calling the cops.

So the school's action was just boneheaded stupidity of the "zero tolerance" variety, and then when the cops were called they followed "policy," which do not have to make sense, but kept them from being reamed out in the local media for ignoring "the safety of the children."

Dan Hossley said...

Texas authorities detained a white boy for munching on a pop tart in a way that made it look, with imagination, like a gun. Sort of derails the whole "white people picking on Muslims" narrative.

Maybe the story here is that "authorities fail to discriminate on the basis of race or religion". Stop the presses.

Brando said...

"it was because the school has a zero-tolerance policy toward hoax bombs, which is defensible."

I only have to take issue with the idea that a zero tolerance policy is defensible. Zero tolerance by necessity requires that we never use independent judgment on a case by case basis, which leads to overreactions in service of consistency. The punishment--if there needed to be one--should have been proportional to the kid's offense. Having him arrested when it was known that it was not a bomb is insane. I'm sure the school did it because they had to follow their zero tolerance policy, but that's all the more reason their policy should instead allow for case by case response.

tim in vermont said...

I was initially impressed because I attempted projects like this when I was his age, but didn't have the digital resources to actually do it and had to make do with experimenting with radio tubes and old stereos.

I had an image in my mind of how he could have breadboarded a clock from some basic chips. This would have been impressive for a 14 year old, if not for a 19 year old. When I saw what it was, I was like. OMG, maybe the kid is "slow" and craves attention. Then I see who the adults in his life seem to be, and another thought crosses my mind.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I was inclined to side with Ahmed at first, but the facts are pushing me the other way. He did not "invent" a clock, he disassembled an existing countdown clock and installed it in a case with only the numbers showing. The rapidity with which the story changed from a brilliant inventor kid victimized by the Man to a poor little Muslim victimized by islamophobes was breathtaking, no doubt shoved along by his activist father. My judgement is that this was an invented crisis.

Jason said...

I don't always make hoax bombs.

But when I do, I sure as hell show it to my electricity teacher first so they know exactly who to arrest later.

Ann Althouse said...

"The central point here is that Ahmed never claimed it was a bomb, the school knew it wasn't a bomb when they called the police, and the police knew it wasn't a bomb when they arrested Ahmed."

Yes, but the disciplinary infraction is having a hoax bomb, scaring people and disrupting the school. That's what the adults thought he did, and maybe he did. None of the adults seem to have fallen for the hoax, but they seem to have been concerned that others could be fooled and even if none had been fooled, if that's what the boy was trying to do, that's the disciplinary infraction. They should have handled it better, though. It was excessive, and it's unsurprising that the parents took it public, trying to help their child.

Jason said...

Note to fecking morons: That "suitcase" is about the size of my hand.

Carry on.

tim in vermont said...

But the little terrorist did have a right to a lawyer.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't have a problem with the school officials getting involved in his motivation. They have a relationship that includes nosing into such things. It's the excess that wrecks my interest in that detail.

rhhardin said...

It's the flying Imams strategy. The point is to behave suspiciously in order to be arrested "for nothing," proving bias.

The point is how many times does the narrative fall for it.

tim in vermont said...

The size of your hand? Who are you, Tony Robbins?

http://blogs.artvoice.com/techvoice/2015/09/17/reverse-engineering-ahmed-mohameds-clock-and-ourselves/

Note the electrical plug for size estimating purposes.

rhhardin said...

In the 70s we had interns actually building digital clocks, soldering chips and everything. It was the standard intern project.

None of them looked like bombs. They looked like circuit boards.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

"So, could it have been intended as a joke, to look like a cliched bomb? "haha it's just a clock!" Because if so the school folks look a little less silly don't they."

Bingo.

Every 14 year-old boy wants to be, or at least thought of as, dangerous. The little Muzzie bastard was deliberately skirting the hoax bomb line but failed to account for the institutional retardation that rules the American educational system.

Jason said...

There's no evidence whatsoever that he intended to make a hoax bomb. The school and law enforcement have both already stated this.

Jesus, people are getting stupid. Liberals I expect massive drooling stupidity from by definition. But this week there's lots of stupidity coming from the right, too.

alan markus said...

OMG, maybe the kid is "slow"

Yes, the "plot-line" seems very similar to Forrest Gump movie. Kid appears to be "not-too-swift", is getting scholarships offers to schools not based on any demonstrated academic skills, and he gets to visit the President.

Hopefully he will lay off the energy drinks before he meets Obama

Fernandinande said...

I enjoy how They call the metal briefcase holding the hoax bomb a "pencil case."

Rob said...
What he "invented" was a hoax bomb.


He didn't invent anything. He made a hoax bomb by disassembling and rearranging a clock (Radio Shack Catalog number 63 756).

Daddy is a director of "Twin Towers Transportation Corporation" and occasionally returns to Sudan to run for president.

And no, 14-year-olds shouldn't get arrested for harmless pranks, nor should 7-year-olds suspended for chewing pop-tarts into unapproved shapes.

AllenS said...

How do you feel when a child is expelled from school when they draw a picture of a gun?

Are they egregiously overreacting?

JackWayne said...

The cops should have done a Blutarsky guitar rage on that clock with their truncheons and told the punk to have a nice day.

Jay Vogt said...

JtheA.

Intersting point by both you and your commentator. Specifically, ". . . .On the other hand, everyone falling over themselves to cite him as the next Bill Gates, a true genius, is a bit foolish."

Ahmed is to Gates as clock is to MS-DOS, which was largely invented by Tim Patterson. Gates just brought it to a bigger Science Fair (a/k/a IBM).

The lessons: pick your science fair wisely and "invention" is usually a fuzzier precept than commonly acknowledged

clint said...

Re: the political use of a child...

Does it seem at all relevant that the boy's father is a racial grievance activist?

Not *the child's* motivation -- but perhaps his father's was to incite an incident?



Yes. Of course the authorities all acted horribly here -- but it's entirely possible to criticize all the adults involved -- the parents, the school officials, the police, and the President. I'm not seeing a single one who doesn't deserve scorn over this. And the only reason the "kid" gets a roll of the eyes instead of scorn is his age. I too was a dumb teenager once.

tim in vermont said...

In the 70s we had interns actually building digital clocks, soldering chips and everything. It was the standard intern project

Right, it's a project not beyond a very bright 14 year old. That's why I was so impressed initially and so disgusted with the teachers.

Now it seems like the flying imams story, where they all requested seat belt extensions that could be used as weapons even though none of them needed one.

buwaya said...

Dawkins isn't the right, he's just a leftist weirdo.
Public schools are getting very silly. Much of their idiocy is the excessive oversight and bureaucratic overlay that requires absurd acts. Even those who implement and mandate the absurdity understand it is absurd. Its all Kafka.
Which is why my charity is parochial schools. Along with everything else, they are free to use common sense.

CJinPA said...

Interesting video from Bill Maher's show, which includes Mark Cuban, who actually spoke to this boy after this happened.

Cuban's take: The school overreacted but the kid should have been more forthcoming. He withheld information making everyone nervous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdjxIH7i-4s

Bayoneteer said...

Political equivalent of a "secret sex tape" release. This put-up job gains Ahmed indentity, buzz, & notoriety, with no real down side for him, even when/if the truth is revealed. At least O'Keefe reveals that his shennanigans are hoaxes designed to make political points. These ass clowns never do. Dont Mohammedans have term for "lying to the goys,kaffirs, infidels, etc."?

Jason said...

The size of your hand? Who are you, Tony Robbins?

http://www.amazon.com/Vaultz-Locking-Pencil-Inches-VZ01479/dp/B001BXZ28K

Way ahead of you.

The dimensions are 8.25L x 5.5W x 2.5H. The L x W on this thing is less than a single sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper, folded in half.

And the stupid people insist on calling it a "suitcase."

Meanwhile they're merrily abandoning any shred of respect for constitutional liberties concerning the access of children to counsel when being interrogated by law enforcement, and pissing all over centuries of jurisprudence concerning burdens of proof.


Slow the heck down and stop acting like a bunch of baying hyenas. You're embarrassing yourselves and making righties look stupid.

CJinPA said...

And let's agree that, once again, our president stepped in to politicize a local controversy without knowing all the facts, needlessly upping the tension. [cough-Michael Brown - cough]

JAORE said...

"A law has been written that allows someone to be arrested for a hoax bomb.

I am curious how that law could be anything but wildly vague so as to allow just about anything to be construed as a hoax bomb."

First, there are hoax bomb threats based on phone calls, yet we evacuate buildings. So hoaxes can be a real problem.

Second, (I was an engineer) so with a minutes examination I could pretty well tell it wasn't a bomb.* But, could all the teachers involved? I have a pretty low estimate of the technical competency of most folk.

Third, a proposed experiment, make something similar, leave the box on a subway platform, see what happens.

*But if I started to lift the lid, saw a mass of wiring and a digital display I might have carefully closed the lid and called the bomb squad myself.

Any comment on the kid saying I , "closed (the briefcase) with a cable ...so it wouldnt seem like a threat. So I closed it with a cable so it wouldn't look that much suspicious." ?

tim in vermont said...

I haven't heard the first person here defend the police on this.

But there seems to be more to this story than met the eye on first publish, admittedly with an aspect of plausible deniability.

It smells fishy is all I am saying, and is nothing like it was originally portrayed, though we all know that reporters are idiots, so they may be to blame for that aspect.

Twin Towers Transportation, that is so cute!

bleh said...

Is there any evidence at all that Ahmed's ethnicity or religious background was a factor in how the school and the police handled the situation?

Serious question.

Fen said...

"it's nothing for strangers to be sticking their nose into."

Wrong. This was a PR stunt. His family has a history of pulling them.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

"The central point here is that Ahmed never claimed it was a bomb, the school knew it wasn't a bomb when they called the police, and the police knew it wasn't a bomb when they arrested Ahmed. They were trying to determine if Ahmed intended it as a fake bomb hoax or if it was a simple misunderstanding, but since Ahmed was not cooperating with police or answering questions that would have cleared him, they had no choice but to take him into custody until they could get more information."

/fixed

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

Why are you concerning yourself with somebody's else's child? He should not be in the limelight at all, but he was thrust there by adults. You should not make an issue of his motivations.

Who is supposed to be the focus of the story, if not Ahmed Mohamed? Who's supposed to be in the "limelight"? Was he "thrust there by adults"? Sure, but they were (IMO) acting responsibly, in the only way possible to them, so I wonder who did the "thrusting."

And his "motivations" are precisely the "issue."

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

So did the kid invent it or not?

Let's have some focus, people!!!

JAORE said...

Oh yeah, you damn skippy there should be some publicity over the likelihood the invention was a pulled apart radio and nothing more.

No, it should not be the main story (of course this should be even less of the story than the pop tart kid), but.....

Geez Louise the way the President, Zukkerboy, Hillary and so many others are anointing this kid as the greatest mind since Einstein it is pathetic. All tying into the meme that this is obvious racism of this precious gift from above (not so obvious if you check out the dozens of idiotic zero tolerance stories available).

Fen said...

"Why are you concerning yourself with somebody's else's child? He should not be in the limelight at all, but he was thrust there by adults. You should not make an issue of his motivations."

Bullshit. When you climb down from your Ivory Tower, do some research on how many boys named Mohammed have blown themselves up.

What you and others are doing is known as Virtue Signaling. You want to preen publicly on how you "are so much more enlightened and tolerant than those other rubes". For your own self-esteem issues. But you weren't even in the room. And while you claim to be an "expert" on what IEDs look like, the reality is you probably can't even set your own VCR clock...

jacksonjay said...

The Professor said:

A child whose self-esteem is not perfectly aligned with the level of his accomplishments might have a problem, but, if so, it's nothing for strangers to be sticking their nose into.

The problem is that strangers (President Smiley for one) CAUSED the self-esteem misalignment by sticking their self-serving noses into it. There is no evidence that young Clock Inventor has any extra-ordinary aptitude for math and science. The Texas Academy of Math and Science (TAMS) is stumbling all over itself to recruit Radio Shack boy. MIT is making an ass trying to recruit him. This has become such a farce!

tim in vermont said...

Weird that the kid took steps to make it look "less suspicious." What was that about?

It is really funny to me that the same people who said that George W. Bush should have prevented 9-11 based on some vague intelligence freak out when the slightest amount of vigilance is exercised.

Fen said...

"None of the adults seem to have fallen for the hoax, but they seem to have been concerned that others could be fooled"

He showed it to his engineering teacher that morning, and the teacher told him not to show it around school because it could be mistaken for a bomb... so he plugged it in during English class and it went "beep! beep! beep!"

Gahrie said...

The annoyance at calling the clock an "invention" should be recognized as a dispute with the adults who overplayed their enthusiasm over the child's brilliance and technological prowess.

How about:

The annoyance at calling the clock an "invention" should be recognized as a dispute with the adults who overplayed their enthusiasm at a chance to signal their personal virtue and attack the United States as racially and religiously intolerant.

Fen said...

It is really funny to me that the same people who said that George W. Bush should have prevented 9-11 based on some vague intelligence freak out when the slightest amount of vigilance is exercised.

Yup. "A failure of imagination" - 9-11 Commission Report

If you see something, say something, unless its muslim because that makes you a bigot...

Jason said...

Questions that would have cleared him of what?

Dissembling a clock?

He didn't have a bomb. He didn't have a hoax bomb. He didn't perpetrate a hoax. He had already showed it to at least two teachers. They didn't have thing one to clear him of.

You don't arrest people until they're cleared. You develop probable cause and then arrest. To have probable cause you have to to have a reasonable person articulate that person x had either committed a criminal act (he hadn't and there was zero evidence that he had and they didn't even think that he had) or that he was about to commit a criminal act. But the only criminal act he could have committed with it was to plant a hoax bomb somewhere. But there is no evidence to believe that he was about to do so whatsoever, and since he had already shown the box to his electricity teacher, there was some serious evidence that he WASN'T going to try to plant a hoax bomb, because who in his right mind would show the device to his teacher before planting?

No, he didn't answer questions. Smart kid. It's not his job to answer the LEO's questions. It's their job to prove that he committed a crime. They should have called his parents or an attorney.

All that remains true even assuming the worst motives about this kid. This could have been a deliberate dry run for a contemplated terrorist act. But that changes nothing. Ahmed was still entitled to an attorney at his interrogation. How stupid are they? Suppose they got a confession or other evidence they couldn't use to prosecute because they threw a citizens' constitutional rights overboard right off the bat, and they had to let other terrorists go free because of fruit of the poisoned tree doctrine?

They never had shit. They know it. They don't have shit now.


Fen said...


And the stupid people insist on calling it a "suitcase."

Not stupid. Its a pencil case designed to look like a briefcase. Without scale in the pic, it looks like a briefcase.

What is "stupid" is all the people who became IED experts over the weekend and can not tell "its obviously not a bomb" from a pic on the internet. I wish they would enlist, we could bring our EOD teams home.

tim in vermont said...

Ahmed was still entitled to an attorney at his interrogation.

You seem to think that readers of this forum exist who disagree with that.

Fen said...

Questions that would have cleared him of what?

Of perpetrating a bomb hoax. Some of the questions asked of him by police:

1) What is this for?
2) Why did you make this?
3) Why did you bring to school?

At the initial encounter, the kid refused to say anything other than "its a clock", which is a bit petulant considering the matter. Once he was arrested, allofasudden he wanted to give information that would clear him.

Fen said...

Also note that this was not any assigned project. He just randomly showed up with a clock he had ripped apart and wired back into a pencil case.

tim in vermont said...

Show of hands anybody who thinks the kid should not have had a lawyer.

Fernandinande said...

I'm posting to explain my position because I'm seeing the famous know-it-all Richard Dawkins losing his bearings:

If anyone lost their bearings it's Obama and the people offering scholarships to the kid.

1. The question whether the clock was an "invention" should be recognized as a debate about the meaning of a word

That's ridiculous. Dis- or re-asssmbling something is not inventing it. Making something from a kit, or parts made for that something, isn't inventing it. There is no question.

2. The annoyance at calling the clock an "invention" should be recognized as a dispute with the adults who overplayed their enthusiasm over the child's brilliance and technological prowess.

No, it should be recognized as the MSM, as well as Obama and his ilk, lying in order to play up their Social Justice Warrior-ing over a trivial incident.

When I was in 6th grade I made a theremin - more complicated than a digital clock - for a school project, complete with actual soldering (and vacuum tubes back then), but never claimed that I "invented" it.

Peter said...

"The question about whether it was an 'invention' also goes toward the kid's motive. Was he trying to show off, but has insufficient skills? Or was he trying to be troublesome (some kids do this, you know!)"

The most likely explanation is that he had a curiosity about electronic hardware. At least, my understanding is that many engineers have a history of having taken things about when they were young, for the purpose of satisfying their curiosity about how these things did what they do.

Jason said...

Well, guess what... the people who arrested Ahmed don't have the excuse of saying "there was no scale" in the pic. They looked right at it. But there's an AC plug in the picture, so there IS a frame of reference for scale anyway.

Nevermind. Truth be damned. Let's run with it. Anything to excuse away the obvious civil liberties issues with interrogating children without allowing them to call their parents.

He could be Tzokhar Tsernaev the IInd. He still gets to call his parents or an attorney prior to interrogation.

Otherwise you have no reliable way of establishing that he is, indeed, TT the II.

tim in vermont said...

Nevermind. Truth be damned. Let's run with it. Anything to excuse away the obvious civil liberties issues with interrogating children without allowing them to call their parents.

Who is defending that?

Jason said...

Fen. You think my homemade guitar distortion pedal or my homemade wah-wah pedal and A-B switch stomp box were assigned projects? Still brought them to school.

Fen said...

Jason: Slow the heck down and stop acting like a bunch of baying hyenas. You're embarrassing yourselves

Nah, you are the embarrassment. You are going out of your way to show us all how you are so much more enlightened and tolerant than us hicks.

Makes us wonder what you are compensating for. You should get a life coach or something to satiate your self-esteem fix.

tim in vermont said...

If he couldn't resist plugging it in in English class, when told not to by the person he was trying to impress with it, maybe the kid has some impulse control problems. Naaah! Sign him up for MIT!

Fen said...

the people who arrested Ahmed don't have the excuse of saying "there was no scale" in the pic

Are you stupid? Do you think a fake bomb needs to be the size of a briefcase to be a fake bomb?

I think I'm beginning to understand your need to bash everyone here. You're like the guy with small penis syndrome. But dumber.

gerry said...

Where is the Laslo sex bomb post? I.AM.WAITING. I need a laugh.

Jason said...

Why? Because I know something about electronics that you don't? Sorry. That's your inadequacy to worry about. Not mine.

I also deployed, too, since you seem to think it's relevant. Saw hundreds of bombs. I was infantry not EOD, so I wasn't in the business of defusing them. Was certainly in the business of identifying bomb parts and evidence of bomb-making operations, though. We did that on a near daily basis.




Gusty Winds said...

If I sent my 13-year-old to school with a metal brief case hand-cuffed to his wrist so he wouldn't lose his homework I'm pretty sure the school would be scrutinizing the briefcase and we'd be asked to return to the traditional back pack.

And what if pubescent Mohamed invented a new life preserver made of nerf material stuffed into paper-towl tubes and woven together so he could wear it around his waist. No cause for concern there...

Jason said...

Which is to say, Fen:

Shhhh. Adults are talking.

Fen said...

Jason: Why? Because I know something about electronics that you don't?

Yah right. Everyone is an expert on the internet. No doubt I'll find you on the poser list over at ThisAintHell as an Army Sniper SEAL Paratrooper.

And you still dodged the question:
Do you think a fake bomb needs to be the size of a briefcase to be a fake bomb?

Try not to hurt yourself.

Fen said...

No, he didn't answer questions. Smart kid.

All he had to say was "fetch my engineering teacher he can explain".


It's not his job to answer the LEO's questions.

Try that one at the TSA counter or the White House gate. See what it gets you.

Fen said...

[commercial break as Jason reminds us again that he's not bigoted towards muslims]

Michael said...

When Ahmed fails out of MIT who will write the postscript?

tim in vermont said...

It's amazing how many experts there are on the intertube about everything!

How big was the bomb that brought down that flight over Lockerbee? Was it as large as a briefcase? What the hell does that have to do with anything? So he couldn't level a city block? So what?

If he had chewed his pop tart into the shape of a gun though, well, throw the book at him!

Big Mike said...

Liberals like Dawkins and Mahar -- and maybe you, too. Althouse -- want the argument to be whether it was an invention so that the rest of us don't focus on the egregious overreaction of the principal. But we will talk about the principal anyway.

Chris said...

Do you think a fake bomb needs to be the size of a briefcase to be a fake bomb?

Start with the fact that a real bomb can look like just about anything at all. Please explain how to identify a given object as a "fake bomb" just by its appearance.

Annie C. said...

It's not actually a pencil case. Those little "briefcase" things are sold in the diabetic aisle at Walmart. My late husband used one for his lancets, and insulin and needles and meter.

Bob R said...

There's two questions here. One of them is easy the other is just weird. The first is the technical/linguistic one that Tim McGuire and Jane the actuary addressed pretty completely. It was obvious from the first glance to anyone reasonably technical that the kid had taken some things apart and put them back together again to make the clock. What you can't see at a quick glance is if the parts were from more than one thing or if it's just the parts of one clock in a new box. Either way the word "invented" is an exaggeration for what is simply a cool little soldering project. The correct reaction for a teacher would be, "Good job. Can you make it do more?"

The other question is whether this was some part of a larger hoax designed to ... what? Make the authorities act like fools? Cage a White House invitation? Get an offer to MIT for a substandard science fair project? Develop a life long B&D handcuff fetish? I just don't get it. We're deep into underpants gnome logic here. I'm not saying that it's impossible the kid and his father weren't thinking that way - you only have to read the comments here to see that LOTS of people think that way. We are surrounded by underpants gnomes. Jeeze, I have to cut down on coffee.

Birkel said...

School children do not enjoy the same constitutional protections as adults.
Jason appears not to know this very basic truth.
Raise your hand if you are surprised, based on Jason's previous Althouse "contributions"...

Anonymous said...

Ann Althouse said...

"The issue is his motive; that could include deliberately inaccurate use of "invention"..."

Reread point #2.

Why are you concerning yourself with somebody's else's child? He should not be in the limelight at all, but he was thrust there by adults. You should not make an issue of his motivations.


Every single school bully is "somebody else's child". So is every bullied kid. I'm sorry, but that argument is just stupid. The kid, by virtue of his own actions, entered the news. The left and the media, BIRM, are attempting to use the kid's actions to push a political agenda.

We get to respond to that. And if our response hits the kid, tough. If you enter the field, you're a valid target.


"Yes, but the disciplinary infraction is having a hoax bomb, scaring people and disrupting the school. That's what the adults thought he did, and maybe he did. None of the adults seem to have fallen for the hoax, but they seem to have been concerned that others could be fooled"

Ah, the age old "I was too smart to be fooled, but those others could be a problem.

Anyone who uses that argument should be permanently removed from any position of power. With zero tolerance.

Jason said...

Right. How did that Central Park Jogger prosecution go, dummy?

I'll give you the short version: A bunch of innocent juveniles got railroaded by prosecutors and imprisoned.

CJinPA said...

Liberals like Dawkins and Mahar -- and maybe you, too. Althouse -- want the argument to be whether it was an invention so that the rest of us don't focus on the egregious overreaction of the principal. But we will talk about the principal anyway.

Maybe if we try really hard and concentrate, we can manage to talk about...both?

David Begley said...

Lawsuit filed against the school district and police before the end of the year. Count on it.

Birkel said...

Do school children enjoy protections against search and seizure by school officials? No.
Do school children enjoy the full panoply of First Amendment protections while at school? No.

You were saying, Jason?

Jason said...

No doubt I'll find you on the poser list over at ThisAintHell as an Army Sniper SEAL Paratrooper.

Well, you got two out of three, sort of. I was a sniper employment officer rather than a sniper (comes with the job of infantry scout platoon leader) and yes, Airborne qualified, not that that's a very big deal anyway.

If you think I'm a stolen valor poser, though, and you're willing to put that in writing here, that tells me a lot about the slovenly knee-jerk thinking process you're applying to Ahmed's case, here to be honest.

CJinPA said...

I once made a vest covered with rows of frankfurters and strapped it to my son for the German Day lunch at school. Leading from the vest was a wire attached to a button that when pressed triggered a recording of "Guten Morgen!"

No one asked a single question. That's Bush's America for you.

CJinPA said...

I'll give you the short version: A bunch of innocent juveniles got railroaded by prosecutors and imprisoned.

Maybe throw some quotes around "innocent" there. It wasn't their DNA, but they were some nasty SOBs. The were indeed assaulting people in the park, wilding style. They were committing violent crimes, we're just not sure which ones.

Jason said...

Berkel,

I don't know why you are bringing up the unrelated topics search and seizure on school grounds. And the First Amendment garbage is way out in outer space.

But see here:

http://www.aele.org/law/2010all07/2010-07MLJ101.pdf

And quoting from the article:


Courts have recognized that the interrogation of minors in the context of criminal investigations or juvenile delinquency investigations raise special concerns about the capacity of the child to understand the consequences of making a statement. Minors may have a special susceptibility to threats, intimidation, unrealistic promises of leniency, or a juvenile desire to please an adult interrogator.
Indeed, a questioned minor may have a tendency to tell interrogators what they seem to want to hear, regardless of its truth or falsity. This is particularly the case in the absence of the guidance of a familiar parent, guardian, attorney or other adult.

Courts are concerned, in all interrogations, with seeing to it that incriminating statements elicited are made voluntarily, and that waivers of the privilege against self- incrimination, or of the right to remain silent or the right to an attorney are also knowing and voluntary. But they become even more concerned about these issues when juveniles are being questioned.
It can be generally stated that juveniles are supposed to be afforded greater protection during questioning than adults because they are thought to be inherently more susceptible to psychological pressure from adults, especially authority figures, including police officers.


There are very good reasons why we expect LEOs to allow suspects legal representation before answering questions, and why we grant them the right to remain silent.

Those reasons don't go away because the subject is a minor. Indeed, they become all the more crucial.

damikesc said...

Media whore gonna media whore.

Jason said...

Maybe throw some quotes around "innocent" there. It wasn't their DNA, but they were some nasty SOBs. The were indeed assaulting people in the park, wilding style. They were committing violent crimes, we're just not sure which ones.

"THEY WERE GUILTY OF SOMETHING, GOSH DARNIT!!!"

Sorry. That's not the way we do things.

Jason said...

So a synopsis:

I object to LEOs interrogating a minor without letting him call his parents, much less an attorney, until after the interrogation is over.

Someone claims that nobody is defending the officers who did that.

Then multiple people chime in defending precisely that.

Carry on.

Birkel said...

Jason,
Please tell me, you informed devil you, when exactly the court date for the student is scheduled.

CJinPA said...

There are very good reasons why we expect LEOs to allow suspects legal representation before answering questions, and why we grant them the right to remain silent.

Fair enough. But I don't think this was a full blown interrogation. As I understand it, he refused to give basic explanations. Strange for a kid to know to do that, let alone do that.

Jason said...

I'm sorry... were you under the impression citizens are only entitled to legal counsel AFTER a court date is scheduled?

Jason said...

Hmmm. Someone is aware he doesn't have to answer law enforcement questions.



Veeeeeerrrrrrrry suspicious.

Birkel said...

Were you under the impression school children enjoyed the full panoply of civil rights while at school?

You can use examples of juveniles arrested if you like, but those facts are easily distinguished.
You don't understand what you don't understand.
Pray, do go on...

CJinPA said...

Sorry. That's not the way we do things.

Not saying we should. Just putting some historical knowledge out there. This is slightly more complicated than "they wuz railroaded." Lots of evidence pointed in their direction.

Birkel said...

CJinPA,

Please don't give the answers to Jason.
My guess is he won't know that an answer was exposed, because he doesn't know what he doesn't know...

Brando said...

"I once made a vest covered with rows of frankfurters and strapped it to my son for the German Day lunch at school. Leading from the vest was a wire attached to a button that when pressed triggered a recording of "Guten Morgen!"

No one asked a single question. That's Bush's America for you."

If I was there I'd have asked several questions, including "did you bring brown mustard?" and "I hope you brought enough hot dogs for the rest of us!"

jimbino said...

A child whose self-esteem is not perfectly aligned with the level of his accomplishments might have a problem, but, if so, it's nothing for strangers to be sticking their nose into.

Many are not strangers, but taxpayers who have every right to stick their noses into a kid's deficient education. If parents want to exclude taxpayers, they have every right to privately educate their kids.

Jason said...

Seriously, as a parent, you wouldn't tell your kid to not answer LEO questions until you got there? I would. I'd tell my kids not to say a damn thing to an LEO trying to interrogate him except to lean into the microphone and say, "l want to call my Dad," and nothing else until I got there or had an attorney there with him.



tim in vermont said...

Reading more about this, I am starting to believe that the kid is a little "slow" and that his father is "Imam Moonbeam."

Birkel said...

A non-sequitur says what?

CJinPA said...

Veeeeeerrrrrrrry suspicious.

Yeah, see it's fun to sit behind our computers and mock the teachers, administrators and police in the heat of a strange, confusing episode. That is literally why the Internet was invented.

I serve on a school board and I can tell you that it's hard being responsible for guaranteeing the safety of students and teachers, in the buildings and online (no cyberbullying!), preventing intruders, guns, knives, oh and drugs, and make sure you screen parents, but don't make it too inconvenient for god's sake and hey this boy wants to use the girls room because he identifies as a girl so figure that out and this prayer group won't get off school grounds and when's the last time you had an assembly on diversity ? oh, you have raise test scores every single damn year. And most of your funding will go to pay pension costs, not the shit we just mandated.

And, hell, what now? Kid brought in a bomb? It just looks like a bomb? Why did you do that son? Why? Can you help us settle this? No? Shit. We have to call the cops you know? Christ, here we go...

Fun times...

Chris said...

Fair enough. But I don't think this was a full blown interrogation. As I understand it, he refused to give basic explanations. Strange for a kid to know to do that, let alone do that.

What did they ask him? What did he tell them? Do we know? Maybe the kid offered simple, straightforward, and truthful answers ("it's a clock"), and the cops simply refused to accept them.

I'd be skeptical of the school and police officials' description of the event, because it seems to me that they're in CYA-mode, and it doesn't strain the imagination that they'd shade their version of events to cultivate favor for their case.

There's too much bullshit around the story to take any account at face value.

Jason said...

Birkel: Were you under the impression school children enjoyed the full panoply of civil rights while at school?

No. So stop conflating different things. We're not talking about the 'full panoply of civil rights." We are talking about one specific right.

Moreover, I've already posted a citation listing a number of different cases upholding that specific right for minors, including the overturning of criminal convictions precisely because they relied on interrogating a minor without a parent or any other kind of representation present. Feel free to deal with those precedents, but don't try the smoke and mirrors BS of conflating this particular civil liberty with others that are not related.

My larger point is this:

Obviously now a couple of people are on record as being all too willing to throw out the right of a minor to call his or her parents to be present for a police interrogation. But we all know that petty tyrants and fascists abound.

But we have a lot of people, apparently, who do believe the LEOs were wrong in continuing the interrogation after Ahmed said he wanted to call his parents, but who ignored that, preferring to talk about other issues. Fine, but that doesn't make the issue go away. And if you ignore that behavior it's as good as condoning it, and then you wind up eroding some pretty important civil liberty protections.

jacksonjay said...


I think W shoulda rounded-up all them A-Rabs in Merica after that vague PDB in August, 2001. He coulda opened up that Gitmo thang and tortured them till they confessed their evil plans. Nevermind that it was only 9 months after "seelected not eelected," erbody in Merica woulda been in favor of him doin that there.

Instead, he just went down ere to hotter-n-hell Texas and cut some brush.

CJinPA said...

What did they ask him? What did he tell them? Do we know? Maybe the kid offered simple, straightforward, and truthful answers ("it's a clock"), and the cops simply refused to accept them.

I posted video of Mark Cuban (of all people) who spoke to the kid. While the cops may have overreacted, he says the kid should have just explained himself, but didn't.

Jason said...

nd, hell, what now? Kid brought in a bomb? It just looks like a bomb? Why did you do that son? Why? Can you help us settle this? No? Shit. We have to call the cops you know?

Why? Why involve law enforcement at all? Nobody thought it was a bomb. You could say he could possibly have planted it somewhere as a hoax bomb, but there is absolutely no evidence to support that belief. First, nobody's gonna be showing off the device to a teacher if he's planning to plant it as a hoax bomb later. Second, you can make a much more convincing-looking "hoax bomb" with a cell phone and a backpack.

Uh oh. We'd better arrest EVERYBODY!!

Laslo Spatula said...

TEACHER: "That's not a sex robot, Ahmed: you just put a pink sock in the barrel of a flashlight and attached a clock to it."

(pause)

TEACHER: "But I like your thinking."

I am Laslo.

averagejoe said...

Brilliant kid? Science whiz? I'm hearing these platitudes about a kid who took apart an old alarm clock and put it in a metal case- Nothing ingenious, exceptional or even clever. Is this the bigotry of low expectations, or progressives trying to bolster the self-esteem of a poor oppressed minority?

Chris said...

I posted video of Mark Cuban (of all people) who spoke to the kid. While the cops may have overreacted, he says the kid should have just explained himself, but didn't.

The kid told Cuban that he refused to answer questions? Like I said before, I wouldn't take any of this at face value, even if it's filtered through Mark Cuban.

Rusty said...

14 year old geeky kid "invents" something so grown ups will pay attention to him because his dad is a massively self absorbed twat.

Sebastian said...

@MDT: "And his "motivations" are precisely the "issue.""

Right. And those of the people around him and those of the people exploiting the issue.

Looks like a trap and set-up, propagated by activist parent, used by O and allies for anti-Islamophobia con-shaming, softening us up and shutting us up. Because clock boy is just the victim of a new crusade.

CJinPA said...

Why? Why involve law enforcement at all?

For the same reason you call the cops when there is a fight: You have to. In most cases, administrators get in more trouble for underreacting than overreacting.

Silly? Sure. But this is what voters/parents demand - a risk-free experience for their children. I can't properly describe how much pressure schools are under. That doesn't mean they are forced to do stupid things, it just means it makes stupid actions more likely. It doesn't help that this case became another political football complete with politician involvement before the facts were in.

Jason said...

If there's a fight, there's evidence of a crime.

Big difference.

tim in vermont said...

Scott Walker is out! Where will his .5% go?

Skipper said...

Compare and contrast the reaction to this "clock" and the reactions to the myriad "guns" fashioned by school kids out of their frozen yogurt or whatever.

Rob said...

With Ann's bad hearing, it's a wonder she didn't think the news report was about a kid who got in trouble for showing the teacher his cock.

Matt said...

Dawkin's response is almost as stupid as Sarah Palin's response. File under Adults Who Need to Evolve... or at least grow up.

Clayton Hennesey said...

It will be interesting to see how the luminaries who chose to milk young Ahmed for their own purposes - the White House, Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter, MIT, Microsoft showcasing its products, local area blogs skimming clicks - follow through on this. The cynicism is strong in this morality play: if Ahmed were to turn to an irredeemable life of cigarettes and horseplay tomorrow, the ongoing ROI for those listed above would remain substantial. Brown people are nothing if not a perennial utility, whether picking strawberries or picking advertising good will.

Last I heard, the Mohameds had not followed through on retrieving Ahmed's clock from the local police. Unless they do, Ahmed will be forced to show off only the Platonic ideal of Ahmed's clock to President Obama when he visits, which, all things considered, might really all be for the best, don't you think? After all, that's the only realm in which any of this theater still holds any traction.

As for young Ahmed specifically, I think what he will end up reaping from this in the long run won't be fame but, rather, notoriety. Copycats evaluating Ahmed's LaunchGood Easter basket to date will certainly want some of that action for themselves, and the name used to generically designate this whole sort of 21st Century throw oneself in front of a car politically correct opportunism will inevitably refer to Ahmed and Ahmed's Clock.

Birkel said...

What crime was investigated? Can anybody name this crime Jason continues to allege?

Now we can stand back and wait for the tiny brain to mash two neurons together.

Bob Loblaw said...

Cuban's take: The school overreacted but the kid should have been more forthcoming. He withheld information making everyone nervous.

This is the part that makes me think the whole thing was a "flying imams" stunt. He repackages a clock to make it look like a bomb. Then when the school starts to ask questions he deliberately behaves suspiciously so everyone gets nervous and calls the cops.

It's all set up as bait for clueless reporters looking for a Teachable Moment On Tolerance. Once the media shows up the boy is disingenuously described as having "invented" a clock, as if digital clocks were a new thing. Isn't it horrible how AmeriKKKa treats the poor Muslim inventors working tirelessly for the betterment of the country?

Why object to the term "inventor"? First, because it's wrong. Not only did he not invent the clock, he didn't even create or build the circuit. But the real problem is people describing him as an inventor are using language to occlude the truth.

Jason said...

Birk:

I'm alleging a crime?

You're even dumber than I thought.

tim in vermont said...

With Ann's bad hearing, it's a wonder she didn't think the news report was about a kid who got in trouble for showing the teacher his cock.

I know, right? There is a song "Tempted by the Fruit of Another" where there is a line

"I fumbled for the clock, alarmed by its seduction"

which makes more sense if the word is "cock" and we all know about Flavor Flave.

Birkel said...

Jason,
Let me explain this to you, as you seem genuinely thick. If there was no crime, and thus no investigation of a crime, then all of the bull shit you tried to use to distract from the fact that the boy's rights were decidedly not trammeled is revealed.

I just got you to admit that the bull shit you typed above, about the rights of the student in this case, was counterfactual.

Do you see how easy that was?

And now we can rest easy that the school officials were merely stupid and not acting illegally.

wildswan said...

A Muslim immigrant kid used clock insides to make a countdown timer which he put into a box that looked like a suitcase; then he set off the timer in English class.

The younger Boston bomber was 19. His friends had a car with a vanity plate that said "Terrorista #1". So funny. Imagine people worrying about a licence plate. And there was nothing to worry about from the car owner - it was his friends,

Birkel said...

The kid was arrested. The reason he was arrested is because the police cannot take custody without arrest. The kid can be arrested without parents present. Once arrested, the kid has constitutional protections in place.

Before that, while in school custody, the kid does not have the same constitutional rights.

Government-run schools are nuthouses of overreaction, dog bites man. This just in.

BN said...

He needs to get a haircut and stop listening to that devil's rock and roll music. Or change his name to Cat.

One or the other.

Rick said...

I've avoided that discussion because I think the authorities, by egregiously overreacting to what was at worst a minor disciplinary problem, have drawn the exclusive focus on themselves.


I don't think this is necessary or warranted, it's appropriate to evaluate all the participants for their roles and actions. If this student intentionally prepared the clock to look like a bomb for propaganda purposes it absolutely should reduce our concern over his treatment as (again, if true) he accepted this as a consequence of his deliberate act.

This doesn't preclude that the teachers, administrators, cops, and prosecutor involved are fools.

Jason said...

There's that "suitcase" lie again.

Jason said...

If this student intentionally prepared the clock to look like a bomb for propaganda purposes it absolutely should reduce our concern over his treatment as (again, if true) he accepted this as a consequence of his deliberate act.

No. Absolutely not.

The guilty as well as the innocent are entitled to the same due process.

Static Ping said...

FYI, there is a video on YouTube on how to make your own clock in a pencil case/hoax bomb/example 564646 of why the media are too dumb to actually be useful. Once the screws are removed from the casing, it literally takes 20 seconds to transfer the innards into the pencil case. All that is left to do it attached said innards so it does not fall out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2&v=kHk_6Vh4Qeo

I'll pass on the discussions of the proper reaction to the parties involved, due to ignorance, and the proper usage of the word "invention," due to an aversion to pedantry.

Rick said...

The guilty as well as the innocent are entitled to the same due process.

I didn't argue otherwise, this is why the others involved deserve criticism. But if he intended to create this controversy our concern that he has been inconvenienced should not be great since this is what he sought.

Rick said...

Jason said...
There's that "suitcase" lie again.


You're splitting the hair between briefcase and suitcase?

http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/652*367/ahmed-mohamed-clock.jpg

Jason said...

The reason he was arrested is because the police cannot take custody without arrest

Not quite. Taking a minor into custody in Texas does not constitute an arrest except for the purpose of determining the validity of taking him into custody or the validity of a search. So whatever rights that are ONLY triggered at the point of arrest might not come into play if a detention of this sort doesn't rise to an arrest. However, the right of a child to call parents before being interrogated, or to have a parent or attorney present during questioning is still going to apply.

At any rate, the TX ACLU's attorneys think it's pretty clear Ahmed's rights were violated for the reasons I've mentioned.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/16/police-violated-ahmed-mohamed-s-civil-rights-by-keeping-away-his-parents.html

You know something about the law in Texas they don't?



Jason said...

That ain't even a briefcase, dude. I wrote above, it's about the size of my outstretched hand.

William said...

For his next project the kid should invent a Pez Dispenser that looks like a pressure cooker. A bit of genius like that, and he'd be a sure bet for a MacArthur.......Everyone overreacted including the president. Perhaps if Obama also invited the kid who invented a gun fashioned out of a pop tart, he could show that over reactions are not limited strictly to Islamophobes and that would take some of the sting out of this stupidity.

Kyzer SoSay said...

It's a metal case that locks. It's size is of literally no importance in a classroom setting. Anyone saying "that's too small to be a bomb, or even a convincing hoax bomb" is clearly not aware of how easy it is to make powerful explosives with readily available materials and instructions. I could, with mediocre effort in a single night, make a crude bomb capable of filling a 20'x30' room with shrapnel at hundreds of feet per second. It could be as small as a damn glasses case. It wouldn't be extraordinarily lethal (there are limits to how much shrapnel you can shove into something that size), but it would be lethal. So, the size and shape of the container is mostly irrelevant.

The fact is, if I saw this Ahmed's device sitting in, say, the aisle of a movie theater, or in the lobby of Midway Airport, or in a classroom, I would be quite alarmed. If I watched a person who appeared to be Middle Eastern planting this device, I'd be even more alarmed. If that's bigotry to someone, then that someone is an idiot. A metal case with a ticking timer . . . that's bad news, people.

If I saw the same device sitting around, open in the same manner as shown in all those photos with exposed circuits and wiring, I wouldn't hesitate to call law enforcement. Not for a second. I don't care if it was fabricated by a child. I don't care if the child insists it's just an invented clock. I don't care what color the child's skin is, or his/her name, or ethnicity. Bombs can be all shapes and sizes. Remember the "Shoe Bomber"? The "Underwear Bomber"? Do you think that their bombs looked like the ones in cartoons, with a ticking watch fastened to sticks of dynamite? No, they did not. The only reason they didn't work as intended is because of poor engineering and crude design, as well as improperly mixed explosives that decomposed when exposed to sweat and moisture.

The police overreacted somewhat. I'll grant the kid that. However, I feel he deserves this suspension. What the hell did he think would happen when he brought this to school? Why did he set off the beeping timer in English class, before even showing the teacher what it was? Why did he plug it in at all after showing it to the engineering teacher the first time? He was explicitly told (and we seem to be forgetting this) by that VERY SAME engineering teacher to put the thing away for the rest of the day lest someone find it suspicious. Yet he breaks it out in English class - with a young female teacher who is unlikely to be a bomb expert, but is very likely to be quite excitable when confronted with a beeping gizmo of that sort - and deliberately sets it beeping to attract attention. Yet some still insist the school should have just given him an attaboy, or a pat on the back, and told him "nice work!"

Ridiculous.

jg said...

Althouse's point #2 is obviously correct - and Dawkins would surely agree. What evidence that his intent is to put a child in his place? Reza Aslan (as is so typical of him vs. anyone with 1 bone of anti-jihad caution in them) smears: "Why [would Dawkins ATTACK! a 14 year old boy]? You can guess why." The Dawkins backlash is cut from the same cloth as the immediately credulous rally behind the original 'invention' provocation / performance art. Vigilance, Althouse. You wouldn't want to only selectively resist the outragist game, would you? (yes, it's tempting to find *some* way in which massive numbers of violently complaining people can be agreed with; it's also often wrong to do so)

Kyzer SoSay said...

And Jason, reading through the comments . . . well, first of all, thank you for your service. Can't be said enough. Now that that's out of the way, you're beclowning yourself big time here. You ought not be doing that.

Darrell said...

"electricity teacher"

Right. They must lunch with "engineering teachers" in public schools.

H said...

A few years ago some people (Muslims) included some blocks of cheese and wires in their packed airline luggage. Perhaps this was innocent fun, but two more frightening possibilities exist. 1. That it was an attempt to learn about the capabilities of datecting plastic explosives; 2. That is was an attempt to erode the "see-something-say-something" hyper vigilance.

The same possibilities exist here, which is why people want the student to be questioned more intently about his motives. If he was planning to bring some kind of bomb to school, it would be good planning to bring a fake bomb -- find out what kinds of actions would be taken, and try to generate some uproar to make people feel stupid about being too alarmist.

The apparent fact that it wasn't really a "project" but just taking the insides out of clock radio and putting them in a pencil box makes it harder to believe that the motive was to impress teachers with his technological abilities.

Birkel said...

Well if the ACLU said or wrote something it must be so. The record of the ACLU is unblemished, after all.

/sarc

Jason said...

Now that that's out of the way, you're beclowning yourself big time here. You ought not be doing that.

Ok. What have I got wrong?

Hopefully you have more than Birkel has.

Fen said...

Funny video showing how easy it was to "invent" this clock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=20&v=kHk_6Vh4Qeo

Jason said...

Well if the ACLU said or wrote something it must be so. The record of the ACLU is unblemished, after all.

Hey, I don't agree with them all the time. But here you have a licensed attorney in Texas who deals with criminal detention law all the time raising a flag here.

Anyway, do you think the case law I provided above don't apply? The Texas statute I provided above doesn't apply? The ACLU attorney is all wet? State your case. You haven't yet.

Frankly, you haven't provided anything better to go on. Other than being obtuse and obnoxious.

Fen said...

Jason: "Not quite. Taking a minor into custody in Texas does not constitute -"

Wow. Not only is Jason a Recon Ranger SEAL expert on IEDS, he's also an attorney familiar with Texas state law...

Jason said...

Kyzernik:

Who actually thought it was a bomb?

Nobody.

Jason said...

Fen: You seem to be fetishizing my military background quite a bit. Have you considered seeing a therapist?

Anyway, I provided a link to the statute. It says what it says. That still means something, even after King v. Burwell.

BN said...

K at 5:06 is correct. But we don't do vigilance anymore. It's so last decade.

Jason said...

Here it is:

"The taking of a child into custody is not an arrest except for the purpose of determining the validity of taking him into custody or the validity of a search under the laws and constitution of this state or of the United States."

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/pdf/FA.52.pdf

So. Fen. Put some ice on that, you little bitch.

And stop sniffing at my combat boots. It's getting creepy.

Fen said...

Jason: There's that "suitcase" lie again.

Its not a lie. People are confused because its a "briefcase" the size of a pencil box, and since they are looking at a pic with no scale reference, they assume its a full size briefcase.

And that's why I am treating you like the little shit that you are. If you were here in good faith, you would grant their mistake and find a civil way to correct them, instead of calling them liars.

This is about your Tiny Penis Syndrome.

Fen said...

Jason: You seem to be fetishizing my military background quite a bit

Nope. I'm just calling you out as a poser. Stolen Valor and all that.

You were never in the military.

Jason said...

Put your last name to that, silly person. So we can see who you are. This should be fun.

Nichevo said...

This should have been handled extrajudicially. Good old shaming by the teacher followed by good old beatdown by public spirited classmates.

Fen said...

Jason: " I was a sniper employment officer rather than a sniper (comes with the job of infantry scout platoon leader) and yes, Airborne qualified, not that that's a very big deal anyway."

LOL. You actually went there. I bet you have 3 purple hearts too, not that that's a very big deal anyway...

Tell us, what's the max effective range of the M16A2? This should be common knowledge to you.

BTW, I am a former Marine, infantry 0313. Don't think you can blow smoke here and get away with it, poser.

Fen said...

Time for "Jason" to make a new sock puppet...

Jason said...

You're a former Marine? You shouldn't try to take a beach without first doing some reconnaissance and checking out your assumptions, tiger.

Fen said...

Jason: "Why involve law enforcement at all? Nobody thought it was a bomb"

Because its a crime to terrorize people with a fake bomb.

Guess they didn't cover that at your "law school"....

Birkel said...

Jason,
Please tell me how taking a student into custody need be accomplished, given that they start in the custody of school officials when they go to school.

And then tell me how a search need be accomplished by the police, given the school officials can search a student for any or no reason, save constitutionally impermissible bases that would generate strict scrutiny from the courts.

And after you have failed on those particulars, re-read your proferred link and tell all reading why it is applicable.

Go!!

Fen said...

Jason: You're a former Marine? You shouldn't try to -

Strike One.

Here's the pitch again:

what's the max effective range of the M16A2?

This should be ingrained in your memory. Like a law professor knowing what Marbury v. Madison is. Like a nurse knowing what gauge the standard IV needle is.

Fen said...

[commercial break while Jason furiously googles "M16A2"...]

Birkel said...

And then put some ice on it.
And apologize to Fen.

The reason I mock and do not make argument is because I know more than you. I know that to be fact. I know you don't know how much you don't know. And I am mean spirited.

Because: internet trolls are teh suxxor.

Birkel said...

Fen,
You are bigfooting my mockery.
Hahahahaha

Jason said...

Why, I don't have to google it, silly. But the burden of proof is on the person making the accusation, and that's you.

It's silly to use something so easily found as a test for such things. No, you go ahead and prove your accusation. But post your name with it, so you have some honor at stake. Or admit honor is no concern for you. I'm good either way.

Birkel said...

Jason,
So tell me how the statute somebody else found for you is applicable, please.

Give it a shot.
Self mockery is the best kind of mockery.

Birkel said...

Jason,
Tell me what the word "except" is doing in that statute somebody else found for you to quote.

Fen said...

Jason: "Why, I don't have to google it, silly. But the burden of proof is on the person making the accusation, and that's you."

Strike two.

And I am proving it - I'm proving that someone who claims to have been an infantry squad leader should reflexively know the max effective range of the TO weapon his troops carry. So here is the 3rd and final pitch:

what's the max effective range of the M16A2?

Stop dodging. If you can't answer, you are a poser. Its like claiming you played in the NFL when you can't name the Dallas football team....

gadfly said...

So Ahmed says he tied the pencil box closed because he didn't want the device to look suspicious. In advance of anyone examining the box, he worried about it looking suspicious?

To the world, he said he "invented" a clock made by Micronta.

Then there is Ahmed's Dad who has been waging a war on what he supposes is "Islamophobia" in the United States. This incident could well be constructed to be "Islamophobia" - you know, people who fear Muslims will one day blow them up - like me.

Jason said...

Birkel: Tell me what this language...

"(c)AAA child may not be left unattended in a juvenile processing office and is entitled to be accompanied by the child’s parent, guardian, or other custodian or by the child’s attorney."

is doing in that statute somebody else found for you to refer to.

Additionally, we have this resource from the Texas Bar college with a number of comments: http://www.texasbarcollege.com/Reports/Garza-Police-Interaction-with-Juveniles.pdf

Scrolling down to page 10, they cite that same statute and go on to say:

In The Matter of C.R., the court held that by requiring the arresting authority to give notice of the arrest to a parent, the legislature gave the choice of whether or not to be present to the parent. The court further stated that the legislature may well have concluded that juveniles are more susceptible to pressure from officers and investigators and that, as a result, justice demands they have available to them the advice and counsel of an adult who is on their side and acting in their interest.31

Section 52.025(c) takes that intent one step further. The entitlement to have a parent present in the processing office is not lessened because an officer is attempting to obtain a statement from a child. Section 51.095 governs how to proceed in the taking of a statement of a child in custody, but Section 52.025 governs how to proceed if the child is taken to a processing office, including if the child is being taken there for the purposes of obtaining a statement. An officer who has taken a child into custody and who wishes to take the child’s statement must notify the child’s parent of the arrest, fully comply with Section 51.095, and if the child is taken to a processing office, notify the child of his right to have his parent present. Even then, under Le the officer must be very careful to comply with Section 52.02 or the statement may be inadmissable.

Whose responsibility is it to inform him of this right? The child may be at the processing office for a short period of time and to allow the officer to complete paperwork. Even then, the statute entitles the child to have a parent or guardian present.


Now if reports are correct... that Ahmed repeatedly asked to call his parents, and that they refused to let him call until after the interrogation was complete, and that they removed him to a juvenile detention facility where the interrogation continued, and they tried to get him to sign a statement, I am just not seeing the thread you're trying to spool that says he wasn't entitled to have a parent present during an interrogation by LEOs.

I don't think your custody point works, because A.) Nobody's talking about a 'search,' anyway, and b.) Texas defines "custody" in a specific way that's different from the general sense in which we use the term "school custody." The statute cites exactly what constitutes "taking custody" for the purposes of applying Sec. 51 and "showing up to school" isn't among them.







Michael K said...

"In the end, I believe Ahmed's father has manipulated him into a stunt. "

I kind't read all the comments because I have been on a plane all day. I think this was a project by the father similar to the Flying Imams case.

It is worrisome and the school may have over reacted but the next time, they had better be alert.

Will said...

Our gullible and incompetent President made a fool of himself again, by jumping to politicized conclusions without all the facts….

"You didn't build that" Ahmed!

Mark Steyn column today: http://www.steynonline.com/7188/get-lost-you-palace-guard-creep

"Any candidate who plays this game with the Obamamedia is a fool. Assuming for the sake of argument that the questioner is genuine and not a plant (like, say, the 14-year old all-American schoolboy clockmaker who didn't make a clock at all and is the son of a belligerent Muslim activist and perennial Sudanese presidential candidate whose brother runs a trucking company amusingly called Twin Towers Transportation),"

It's all part of the same ole Obama campaign… war on women, muslims and black lives. Maybe he should focus on getting more than 5 Syrian fighters for our $500million investment of US treasure. What a disaster Obama is! Even a 14 year old plays him for the giant fool he is.

Jason said...

Fen: I never claimed to be an infantry squad leader. Sorry you don't know the difference between a squad and platoon.

Now, suppose I answered your silly question. It wouldn't prove anything because anyone can google the answer in 10 seconds. So you're dumb twice over, eh?

No, you're gonna have to do better than that. Prove I've lied about my military service, or retract your claim.


Birkel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birkel said...

"...juvenile processing office..."

What work is done by those three words that would be impacted by the interaction between the principal, the school resource officer and a student in the principal's office?

You are ignorant.

Jason said...

Except he didn't remain in the principal's office, did he?

Birkel said...

Do you enjoy making your ignorance obvious?
Read above and put it together.

(Naturally I assume you are dishonest and have no intention of trying to see your own errors.)

Jason said...

So what is the Texas ACLU missing?

Joe said...

I'll go with Occam's razor here and guess that he's a lazy ass kid who remembered the project at the last minute and scrambled to put something together. The pencil case was handy as was the clock, so he used them.

He not only didn't invent anything, he didn't even do a good job not inventing anything. The project by itself deserves a failing grade.

Then there's Mr. Liar Pants Ahmed who damn well knew after the fact what he'd done (after all, if he's "that" smart, he'd be an idiot not to notice.) He probably panics and tries to make it not look like a bomb, but figures, like a dumb 14-year-old, that it wouldn't matter.

Since I'm thoroughly unimpressed with MIT; if they want a lazy idiot, they cam have him.

Jason said...

Fen... Got that proof yet?

CWJ said...

Bob R wrote -

"There's two questions here. One of them is easy the other is just weird. The first is the technical/linguistic one that Tim McGuire and Jane the actuary addressed pretty completely. It was obvious from the first glance to anyone reasonably technical that the kid had taken some things apart and put them back together again to make the clock. What you can't see at a quick glance is if the parts were from more than one thing or if it's just the parts of one clock in a new box. Either way the word "invented" is an exaggeration for what is simply a cool little soldering project. The correct reaction for a teacher would be, 'Good job. Can you make it do more?'"

You give him too much credit. It's one clock; a thirty odd year old alarm clock once marketed by Radio Shack. All the parts are from that one clock including the control panel, digital display, circuit board, AC plug and battery back-up. All he did was remove the original case and place (dump?) the innards into a comercially produced pencil box. No soldering was involved. In AA's original thread, I accused him of attaching a battery to a clock. Even I gave him too much credit.

He invented nothing. He didn't even assemble anything. If your hypothetical teacher said "Good job," (s)he was conned. As to "Can you make it do more?," I'm guessing the answer is no. Heck, Ahmed had nothing to do with what it does in the first place.

DavidD said...

OK; long comment thread, so I skipped to the end after a while.

Can anyone tell me why this gets press and high-level attention when so much zero-tolerance bullshit does not?

David Begley said...

News tonight. Ahmed to file a lawsuit.

Just as I predicted and right on schedule.

chickelit said...

David Begley said...
News tonight. Ahmed to file a lawsuit.

Just as I predicted and right on schedule.

9/21/15, 9:06 PM


I predicted that 20 minutes after the first story broke (here at Althouse).

And people will gladly give him millions of their own dollars. Because why? Guilt?

CWJ said...

DavidD,

I asked much the same question twice in AA's original thread. Surprisingly, my guess is that the facts of the case would more reliably come forth had it stayed a local story. Having gone national, it now has to carry who knows how many naratives on its back as well as the actual facts themselves.

I doubt we'll actually ever know the final answer, but for me the editorial process of how particular local stories like this mestastasize into national stories while others don't is more interesting than the story itself.

chickelit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

As this saga moves forward in time and has less and less to do to with the son and more to do with the father, I hope Althouse changes her tag from the child's name to the real party of interest.

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