The anatomy of a rumor: Last night, a man named Steve Emerson, "terrorism expert," was called upon to talk about the Boston bombing on jumped-up carnival barker Sean Hannity's Fox News program. Citing unnamed sources, Emerson told Hannity that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the 22-year-old Saudi national once considered a "person of interest" in the Boston case, was to be deported by the U.S. government on Tuesday "on national security grounds." "This is the way things are done with Saudi Arabia," said Emerson. "You don't arrest their citizens, you deport them because they don't want them to be embarrassed and that's the way we appease them."
Or not. Because all it took was one phone call to discover that Emerson's "scoop" was like so many scoops since Monday: total bullshit.
A law enforcement official told me about an hour ago that the story of Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi being deported is "not true at all." He continued:
[Alharbi] and the guy we have in custody are two different people. They're two different people with two different names. Yes, there was a person arrested. But the person we have in custody is not [Alharbi] and has nothing to do with the [Boston bombing]. We arrest people on a daily basis across the country—that's what we do here. Also, not even the person we arrested is being deported at this time.
So there you have it.
Emerson's name has been popping up a lot in the wake of the marathon bombing, due in large part to the fact that he appears to have a real desire to pin the attack on a Muslim group. On Tuesday morning Emerson took to C-SPAN to posit that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the man he would one day later say is getting deported, should be carefully considered as the bomber because "the burns on his skin match the explosive residue of the bomb that exploded." In other words, Alharbi is suspicious because the injuries he sustained in a bombing match up perfectly with the kind of bomb used in the attack. A few hours later, authorities would completely exonerate Alharbi, and a day after that is when Emerson would go public with his next bogus story about the young man being deported, also a lie.