Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mistaken identity story at G20

On the CBC program As It Happens (http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/) for today, they did the following piece:

"...An ad homonym attack. Toronto police apprehend a Somali-Canadian suspect named Sharmake Abdi -- but he's not the Sharmake Abdi they were looking for..."

The police had some datapoints for, and some datapoints against. It's a harder kind of situation than when all the information is in one direction. He has the same name, but doesn't look like the other Sharmake Abdi. I guess you would call this an accidental false positive. Presumably they didn't target him. But it's against the backdrop of a several-day period when the Toronto police used a lot of excessive force against a lot of people and several stories of draconian and harsh treatment. But I suppose in this case, it's in a slightly different place on the Venn diagram because of the coincidence in the names. The idea that you can act first and ask questions later is bad enough if it's a policeman beating up the wrong person, and even worse if it's a suspected terrorist and you have Dennis Blair's "special permission." to assassinate them.

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