AP report on kidnapping of Congressman’s relative has foul smell

The Associate Press published a story a few hours ago about the Juarez kidnapping case involving a relative of U.S. Congressman Silvestre Reyes that takes the art of repackaging someone else’s reporting, without credit, to a new level of sleaziness for the nation’s supposed premier news service.

The shameless reporters base the entire story on a federal law-enforcement official “who spoke on the condition of anonymity.” The AP story describes details seemingly lifted verbatim from a recent Narco News’ story, which was based on a leaked U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement [ICE] document published exclusively on the Narco News’ Web site. The AP reporters do not once acknowledge that Narco News not only broke the story, but that the online investigative publication reported the very same details contained in the AP story in a story published last evening.

From the AP story:

A female relative of Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, was kidnapped June 19 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a crime-ridden city across the Rio Grande from El Paso, a federal law enforcement official said Wednesday.
The woman, a Mexican citizen, was released after an approximately $30,000 ransom was paid by a relative in Mexico to the kidnapper, the official said, and Reyes' relative was released with another victim.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is active, did not have details about the second victim.
Authorities did not say how the woman is related to Reyes. Another family member was in contact with the kidnapper and agreed to pay the ransom, the official said. …

From Narco News’ story, published last evening, quoting from the ICE document:

On June 19, 2008, the [ICE] Assistant Attaché Juarez was contacted by a Congressional Aide (CA) for Congressman Silvestre Reyes of the 16th District of Texas. Congressman Reyes’ aide advised that Erika Posselt, a Mexican national and relative of Congressman Reyes’ wife, had been kidnapped in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Subsequently, the ICE Assistant Attaché Juarez requested and received the full assistance of the ICE SAC [Special Agent in Charge] El Paso office, and coordinated a meeting in El Paso, TX with the Chihuahua State Police to recover the kidnapped victim.
On June 19, 2008, ICE Assistant Attaché Juarez personnel contacted the victim’s brother and learned that a group of armed men kidnapped Ms. Posselt from ACCRIPARTS, an auto glass store she owns in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Additionally, agents learned the kidnappers had called Ms. Posselt’s brother and demanded a ransom of $500,000 in exchange for her safe return.
The kidnappers stated that Ms. Posselt would be killed if he contacted law enforcement authorities.
… As a result of the negotiations, the kidnappers agreed to accept a ransom of $100,000 for Ms. Posselt’s release, and that she would be released after her brother delivered an initial payment of $32,000 in combined U.S. currency and Mexican pesos. The victim’s brother was also instructed to personally deliver the money.
… On June 22, 2008, at approximately 3:00 a.m., Assistant Attaché Juarez agents reported that the victim had been released and was in the custody of Mexican authorities. The victim [Posselt] was dropped off at a public location along with another kidnapping victim, Eduardo Fernandez, who had paid a ransom of approximately $56,000 for his release.

To make matters worse, the AP reporters hide behind their anonymous source to put out a line for ICE, a line that seems conveniently designed to inoculate ICE from the appearance that it provided special favor to the Congressman by committing the agency’s resources to securing the release of his relative — a Mexican citizen who was kidnapped in Mexico.

From the AP story:

The [unnamed] official said the family of the victim called Reyes' office, which notified authorities. Reyes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was not informed of the kidnapping until several hours later, according to the official.

That statement could lead readers to believe that the Congressman had no involvement in involving ICE in the kidnapping case.

Now, given the potentially explosive nature of such a phone call (a Congressman’s relative kidnapped in Juarez) it seems a bit of stretch to believe, on an unnamed source’s word alone, that one of Reyes’ aides would take the bold step of calling ICE before first talking to his boss, or that ICE would take any action absent first speaking with the Congressman.

But even if we want to believe this phantom AP source, why would ICE officials, after finding out that the kidnapped victim was a Mexican citizen, still pursue the case? It's simply not believable absent some on-the-record proof. At a minimum, AP should have qualified the story to that effect.

Given the power the Congressman wields, and given that it was one of his relatives who was abducted, it just doesn’t pass the smell test for us to buy, on the basis of an unnamed source alone, that ICE jumped into this kidnapping case without first making the Congressman aware of their game plan.

But then I guess AP stories don’t have to be believable, or even sourced credibly, to get published nowadays.

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