The virtually wall-to-wall media coverage of the Times Square bombing investigation was a problem for investigators trying to solve the case, says National Public Radio. What hasn't been apparent until now is how news coverage fundamentally changed the investigation. Law enforcement officials usually say they can’t talk to reporters about an ongoing investigation, but there were leaks in this case from the beginning – partly because of the dynamic between two powerful law enforcement forces in New York City–the New York Police Department and the FBI.
As one law enforcement officer said, “Our operational plans were being driven by the media, instead of the other way around. And that’s not good.” He said they watched in horror as news organizations started talking about the fact that the vehicle identification number on the Nissan Pathfinder used in the botched bombing had been taken off the windshield. Then another report said that wouldn’t matter as authorities could find the VIN on other parts of the car. A short time later, the fact that they had found the number was reported. The coverage was providing a lot of clues about the direction the case was going. On Monday afternoon, a news organization reported that law enforcement officials were looking for an American citizen of Pakistani descent from Shelton, Ct. (NPR also had the information, but didn’t report it out of concern that it would affect the investigation.)