ferryfbi.thumbnail.jpg Remember those swarthy, olive-skinned fellows seen taking pictures aboard a Seattle ferry who set the wingnutosphere a-flapping last year? Well, as most of us suspected all along, it turns out they were just swarthy, olive-skinned tourists:

The FBI has called off a global manhunt for two men who looked Middle Eastern and were spotted snapping pictures and demonstrating "suspicious behavior" on a Washington ferry last summer.

The men appeared at a U.S. Embassy two weeks ago and identified themselves as European business consultants who were on a trip to Seattle, FBI officials said Monday.

Special Agent in Charge Laura Laughlin said the men took a couple of days off in the middle of the July visit and decided to ride a car ferry. They took photos to show relatives back home, she said.

FBI agents have seen the photos and found them to be innocuous, as were the pair’s business activities, Laughlin said.

The consultants came forward to clear their names, stating that they feared getting arrested if they returned to the United States. They gave U.S. Embassy officials documentation of their identities, jobs and the reason for their trip to the U.S. last summer.

Among the wingnuts wildly flaming the fans of public hysteria in the case was Bill O’Reilly, who as Joel Connelly points out actually sent a camera crew to the home of the P-I’s publisher to harass him for the paper’s refusal to run the men’s picture:

Fox New host Bill O’Reilly assumed full dimensions of self-importance last summer and condemned the Seattle P-I for choosing not to publish pictures circulated by the FBI of two "suspicious" ferry passengers.

The chief commentator at the "fair and balanced" network followed up by making the P-I chief villain of a November commentatary entitled: "Why is the far left putting the military and all Americans in danger?"

O’Reilly sent out an aspiring slayer of straw men, his producer Jesse Walters, to conduct an ambush interview with P-I publisher Roger Oglesby, outside the latter’s Seattle home.

"Are you proud of that decision, sir? I mean, they still haven’t found those guys," Walters sneered at Oglesby. A few moments later, Walters said the two men were "still on the loose."

On the loose? No crime was committed. No illegal act by the two men was ever alleged or attributed. No effort to sabotage Washington’s marine highway was ever found.

The two men were identified and photographed by a fellow passenger for a simple reason: They looked Middle Eastern.


You may also recall that this little bit of irrational hysteria was once again being pumped up by the Internment Queen, Michelle Malkin, who among other multiple posts on the subject castigated the P-I (and thereby probably giving O’Reilly’s producers the notion of harassing Oglesby).

It was all part of her now-moribund "I Am John Doe" campaign, which as I pointed out at the time was actually very much of a piece with her defense of the World War II internment camps.

So far, I haven’t seen any sign that Malkin has acknowledged that, once again, she was flat-out wrong about this. I’m not holding my breath either. And I assume that the same holds true of O’Reilly.

Because, in the Bizarro World of movement conservatism, the right is never wrong. Even when they are.

UPDATE: Sure enough, Malkin has noted this news not as proof that she was wrong once again, but that she was right all along.