A number of pundits think it looks like it, especially after Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne spoke about the incident in an interview with Glenn Beck on Monday, 21 September.
Let me clarify one thing up front: it’s not really what matters, even if the incident was manufactured (and it could have been). What matters is how the American media, politicians, and other opinion leaders have jumped on the event as if it proves something against the American people. Bait can be dangled any time, but it doesn’t have to be taken.
(What the incident actually proves, it appears to me, is that the Irving schools take security seriously, as we would expect them to. No kid of any race or religion would have escaped suspicion, if he had toted in a device like the dismantled clock-in-a-briefcase Ahmed Mohamed took to school. It’s been demonstrated pretty thoroughly that the device was not an “invention”; it was just an old mass-produced alarm clock, with its innards removed from their plastic case.)
In her interview on Monday, Mayor Van Duyne disclosed the following (some of which was already known; emphasis added):
Van Duyne said that according to the information she had seen, Mohammed had been “non-responsive” and “passive aggressive” in response to questions from police officers.
The refusal to amiably resolve the situation continued as the family rushed to bring Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) representatives into the case, and repeatedly cancelled meetings with the school district and city officials before finally speaking to the media.
“We had tried to reach out to the family a number of times; this was before it ever even hit the papers on Wednesday,” Van Duyne said pointing out that the family repeatedly canceled attempts to discuss the matter.
“At the exact same time they were supposed to be meeting with us, they were on their front lawn with a press conference,“ she said.
Van Duyne also pointed out that President Obama, like many others, had rushed to judgment before the facts in the case had become available.
“We never even got a call from anybody at the White House asking to verify any of that information. I don’t think the picture of the hoax bomb was even released before he tweeted ‘cool clock kid.’” Van Duyne said.
(For the full-length interview with Beck, see the link at the top.)
Van Duyne’s description seems to confirm what others have suggested: that the Mohamed family and CAIR set up a press conference remarkably quickly, apparently before school or city officials had had the chance to speak with them.
But it’s her point about Obama’s tweet that’s getting most of the attention. Is it possible that the picture of Ahmed’s device – provided by the Irving Police Department – wasn’t released until after Obama’s tweet (in which he said “Cool clock, Ahmed”)?
Technically, it appears the short answer is no. But unless the mayor actually had someone do the check I just did, she probably had good reason to think the Obama tweet was made before the world had gotten a load of Ahmed’s dismantled clock. She herself very likely saw the photo only after she became aware of Obama’s tweet.
Here’s the tweet:
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS44) September 16, 2015
(See below for discussion of the time stamp. The tweet was sent at 12:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time, or 11:58 AM in Texas.)
The photo of the clock was released at a press conference the IPD held the morning of 16 September, which started about 50 minutes before Obama’s tweet. Here’s the running timeline KERA News was updating that morning.
The press conference started shortly after 11:00 AM Central (Texas) time. KERA put the time of 11:20 AM on its update from the conference, which had the photo posted.
The earliest time I can find the photo posted anywhere was in a tweet from Dallas-area reporter Naheed Rajwani, sent at 11:10 AM.
— Naheed Rajwani (@naheedrajwani) September 16, 2015
As of this writing, Rajwani’s tweet has been retweeted 86 times.
That means the White House, if it was relying solely on third-party media reporting – and was preternaturally alert to every piece of information streaming out – had a maximum of about 48 minutes to ponder the photo of the clock and decide that Obama would pronounce it “cool.” Something under 30 minutes is, of course, far more likely.
You decide if that proposition passes the smell test. The great majority of the national media — much less the rest of the country — hadn’t seen the photo of the briefcase device until sometime after 1:30 PM Eastern. The photo began popping up in the MSM and popular websites between 1 and 2 PM EDT. The most likely explanation for why the Oval Office knew what the dismantled clock looked like so much earlier — before 12:58 PM — is actually that someone in the Mohamed family or CAIR was coordinating with Obama’s staff. (The mayor, again, says the city, including the police, were never contacted by the White House.)
This is the White House, remember, that doesn’t recall where Obama was during most of the attack on our facilities in Benghazi on the night of 9/11/2012. He was so hard to track down, while Americans were under armed attack, that to this day we don’t know what he did that night, if anything.
But on the matter of Ahmed’s dismantled clock, if we are to accept a putative scenario without insider coordination (i.e., coordination via CAIR), that means that it took no more than 48 minutes for Obama to be briefed on the device – with just-released photo – and to authorize the sending of a tweet. This scenario would certainly speak loudly about the Obama White House’s priorities.
Allen West’s website (citing Daily Beast) adds to the mix with emerging information that Ahmed’s older sister Eyman Mohamed was suspended from school herself a few years ago, on the suspicion of a classmate that she “wanted to blow up the school.”
The update about Eyman is provided by Daily Beast with the implication that it shows how prejudiced the school authorities are against Muslims. Allen West author Michelle Jesse points out, however, that a family with this experience might well be expected to be extra careful about sending a younger brother to school with something that could be mistaken for a bomb timer. Taking the strange-looking, unwieldy device to school, and showing it to a teacher, comes off more like pushing a point than anything else.
Addendum: The time stamps on the tweets
Experienced Twitter users know that the time stamps you see on tweets are a function of your account settings. For most users, who don’t mess with those settings, the tweets you see will display the time it was in your time zone when the tweet was posted.
One way to verify for certain the amount of time that elapsed between one tweet and another is the rough-and-ready method I used here.
I accessed both Obama’s and Naheed Rajwani’s tweets via embedded links in other posts. Cursoring over the time stamp on each tweet – if it’s embedded and clickable – brings up a display of the tweet’s time stamp in Greenwich Mean Time (UTC). That will always be the same, wherever you are on earth.
You can thus verify that the elapsed time between Rajwani’s tweet and Obama’s was 48 minutes.