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Terrorists Aren’t the Only Ones Who Eat Falafel!!?

Here's the deal. A reporter named Jeff Stein wrote an article about how "the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to … Read More

By / November 29, 2007

Here's the deal. A reporter named Jeff Stein wrote an article about how "the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists." He claimed that he got his information from "well-informed sources." Well, those sources must have been looking to make a fool or Mr. Stein and/or the FBI, because after a month of shock and awe that such a project would be green-lit, it's been revealed that the entire article was completely false.

Let's see if the pesky fact that all of this reporting was wrong will make as much news. Here's the FBI press release from yesterday:

We at the FBI were surprised to read about a supposed FBI program to monitor the sales of Middle Eastern food products in the San Francisco Bay area in support of counterterrorism intelligence gathering (“FBI Hoped to Follow Falafel Trail to Iranian Terrorists Here,” November 2, 2007).

Having never heard of this, I spoke to the counterterrorism managers, who in the story were identified as having hatched the plan, as well as everyone else who would have had any knowledge of it. Nobody did. At one point in the story, writer Jeff Stein opines “as ridiculous as it sounds,” in reference to the alleged food monitoring plan, which reportedly was described to Mr. Stein by “well-informed sources.”

In this case, too ridiculous to be true.

While the story may have been the source of some amusement, I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight on something that touches on something so important as national security and civil liberties.

John Miller Assistant Director, Office of Public Affairs Federal Bureau of Investigation

 

What a relief. We can all now resume Falafel eating sans paranoia.  Extra tahini, please.

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