Between the alert Vietnam vet T-shirt vendor, the big good-looking cop on horseback, the detective who squeezed underneath the Nissan Pathfinder to read the VIN number that klutzy car-bomber Faisal Shahzad forgot about, the FBI agents who lost his trail, and the mayor who decided he’d deal with the emergency right after the show was over at the White House Correspondents’ dinner, there’s enough for a week-long made-for-cable-TV movie about the thankfully failed Saturday night massacre the Pakistani immigrant had planned for us.
Let’s hope the producers of this inevitable show also include a bit about the intrepid reporters who yesterday added some old-fashioned, tried-and-true investigative reporting techniques to all the high-tech computer searching conducted on the alleged terror trainee: They went through his garbage.
Thanks to this mass reportorial trash pick outside of Shahzad’s former home in Shelton, Connecticut, we learn in today’s Times that the Bridgeport bomber got “D’s in English composition and microeconomics, B’s in Introduction to Accounting and Introduction to Humanities, and a C in statistics.”
The Post’s Dumpster divers went for the family angle, learning that the Shahzad clan “ate at Red Lobster, worked out at Planet Fitness, bought gas at the local Exxon station and did their shopping at Fresh Halal Meat & International Food in nearby Bridgeport.”
The Los Angeles Times went for the money side: “Tax returns found in the trash Tuesday show Shahzad’s income in 2000, when he earned his undergraduate degree, was $5,458. His 2001 return lists his occupation as an account analyst, and a gross income of $22,650.”
ABC News noted that Shahzad signed his documents with a heart dotting the “i,” a telltale mark not previously associated with Taliban sympathizers.
There is usually much carping from high-brow journalism professors about this investigation technique, which was first developed by the great A.J. Weberman, the Yippie Dylan-ologist who turned it into an art form. But some of us have spent our best years bent over the orange rinds and pizza boxes shed by Supreme Court judges and Gambino crime family soldiers, and we can attest that there is no truer mode for getting to the core of the story, even if it’s got ants all over it.