(Original story at The Daily Mail here.)
Alright, this borders on the ridiculous. This is not at all like the story of Paul Chambers, the Brit who foolishly (jokingly?) threatened to blow up Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire in January 2010.
It reminds me of a story where a family with two children was detained and interrogated for hours at the Singapore Changi Airport because the mother, while explaining to her 13-year-old daughter why they had to remove their shoes for screening, said “bomb.”
Most of the stories that I post here are of things that people should never have posted on their social media profiles. Those stories usually evoke ridicule from readers, but this boy deserves our sympathy.
It is also a good reminder of how the authorities can and will overreact to what you say on social media, and so, to be always mindful that what you post can be taken out of context and used against you.
War on… teenagers: Boy, 13, interrogated by the SECRET SERVICE for posting message about Bin Laden on Facebook
Last updated at 11:40 AM on 18th May 2011
A 13-year-old boy was interrogated at his school by Secret Service agents without his mother’s permission after posting a message about Osama Bin Laden on Facebook.
Following the Al Qaeda leader’s death, Tacoma schoolboy Vito LaPinta wrote on his Facebook page that President Barack Obama should be be wary of repercussions.
‘I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers,’ he said.
A week later he was sitting in class at Truman Middle School, Washington, when he was called into the principal’s office.
Vito said: ‘A man walked in with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service.
‘He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the President. I was very scared.’
The Tacoma school district admitted a Secret Service agent questioned the boy and a security guard called the child’s mother because the principal was on another call.
The school district said they did not wait for Vito’s mother to get there because they thought she didn’t take the phone call seriously.
‘That’s a blatant lie,’ claims Timi Robertson, who said she had just finished lunch with a friend when she received the phone call.
‘I answered it, and it’s the school security guard who’s giving me a heads up that the Secret Service is here with the Tacoma Police Department and they have Vito and they’re talking to him,’ she said.
‘I just about lost it. My 13-year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he’s being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.’
She then rushed to the school only to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour.
The seventh grader said that once his mother arrived the agent finished the interview and told him he was not in any trouble.
Ms Robertson said she isn’t financially able to take legal action but hopes the episode raises awareness about the treatment she said her son endured.
The Seattle branch of the Secret Service did not respond to requests for comment.It follows revelations that Egyptian veteran militant Saif al-Adel is Al Qaeda’s interim operational leader before the expected permanent appointment of its deputy chief.
Al-Adel is one of Al Qaeda’s leading military chiefs and will be interim leader while the terrorist group collects pledges of loyalty to Al-Zawahri to replace Osama Bin Laden.
The incident is a reminiscent of a number of reactions by the Secret Service to seemingly innocuous threats to the President’s life.
A mother was interrogated by the Secret Service in December 2010 after making an offhand remark about ‘killing the President’ on a phone call to a civil servant.
Sue Velezquez, 52, made the mock threat after being driven mad by a worker at the U.S. passport agency.
‘It’s not like I’m gonna kill the f*****g president,’ Ms Velezquez said as she asked for her daughter’s documents to be returned in time for the girl’s wedding.
The mother of three thought no more about it until she was phoned by a man identifying himself as a Secret Service agent who said he was outside her home.
The Secret Service also investigated a Facebook poll in September 2009 that asked whether people thought President Obama should be assassinated.
The poll asked respondents, ‘Should Obama be killed?’ The choices were: ‘No’, ‘Maybe’, ‘Yes’, and ‘Yes if he cuts my healthcare’.
The online survey was taken off the popular social networking site quickly after company officials were alerted to its existence.