Just before 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, CNN reported an arrest had been made in the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Their report was quickly backed up by several other news outlets, including the Boston Globe and a local Boston TV station.
As of this writing, the Boston Globe still says a suspect is in “custody.”
Notice the difference between the two words “arrest” and “custody.” There’s an interesting distinction between the two.
Since the Patriot Act was passed, the definitions of each word in relation to police activity has changed. The police are now allowed to hold a suspect in terrorism (which the Boston bombing is) related cases in “custody” prior to “arresting” him.
The Patriot Act, as I understand it, allows for the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects. So is it possible that CNN was right and they just reported the wrong word? Maybe.
Let me further explain. Notice this: The Boston Police and the U.S. Justice Department took to Twitter to say no one has been “arrested.” But, neither said whether a suspect was being held in “custody.” Make no mistake, the FBI will use every legal tool in their shed during this investigation including holding someone in “custody” before they “arrest” him.
Imagine it like a hit drama. The police swoop into a house, take the suspect into custody and lock him up in a room. In that room they are playing good cop and bad cop to try and get information out of him before the suspect lawyers up. This is all legal pending court challenges.
Clearly, this is all speculation on my part. But semantics matter, especially to lawyers. Arrest is the much more official process preceding official charges.
It is still highly possible CNN and the Boston media all got the story wrong. It’s possible their sources misled them or gave them faulty information, but, at one point, the Associated Press reported a suspect had been arrested, handed over to the U.S. Marshalls and they were headed to the federal courthouse in Boston. That’s a pretty specific detail to get wrong.
I’m saying there is a conspiracy out there just looking at the difference between “arrest” and “custody.” The difference, according to the police, is significant. The police could be questioning “someone of interest” about the bombings based on video footage around the marathon. This could be where the Patriot Act could come in. Just look up what happened to Jose Padilla.
Of course, the reality could be the FBI is just starting their investigation and have just started identifying those “people of interest.”