Friday, March 7, 2008

Times Square Recruitment Center bombing bad timing for "gifted" Democrat letter writer

Here are some highlights:

When David A. Karnes, a California lawyer, sent letters late last month to members of Congress with a picture taken of a man standing in front of the Times Square recruiting station, he could not have imagined that weeks later, F.B.I. agents would swarm his Los Angeles home and interrogate him. Law enforcement authorities have ruled out a connection between the bombing of the recruiting station on early Thursday morning and Mr. Karnes, who has become an odd footnote to a story that has perplexed investigators...

Mr. Karnes, whose mother spoke to The New York Times on Friday about her son, worked for a number of years as a lawyer for Universal Television, which syndicates television programs like “Law & Order.”

In a way, Mr. Karnes’s story resembles the first few minutes of many a “Law & Order” episode, in which an unlikely coincidence send the authorities down a wrong trail. According to officials, he sent the letters to lawmakers in late February, more than 30 pages each, indexed with numbers indicating they were mass produced and mailed with a return address from California. At first, officials thought the claim, “We did it,” might be a claim of credit for the bombing.

F.B.I. agents tracked Mr. Karnes down late Thursday, waited for him as he left a health club, pulled him over in his car near his Hollywood home and talked to him. His account — and his denials of being the bomber — were found to be credible. It turns out that the man was only trying to send Democratic politicians a message.

Ms. Karnes said her son told the agents that he had written the letters and sent them to Washington out of a deep conviction about politics and social issues. “He sent it and the timing was wrong,” she said. “He had no idea. He didn’t even really know there was a bombing that took place the other day. He is just completely innocent of any of that. This all had to do with his personal conviction.”
“I’ll tell you, he is the most gifted, creative person,’’ she said. “He’s been writing letters since he was 13 years old in school.” She added: “He is one of the most sensitive people I have ever known. He is one of the most rare people. He tries to contact congressmen and speak out against the war. He’s gifted and he’s got a background in education like you’ve never heard.” She added that the family was always “politically minded".

Ms. Karnes said she had received a Christmas card that featured a photo of her son standing in front of the Times Square military recruiting station. “I know when he said, `We did it,’ he was talking about the Democratic Party,” she said. “He’s a very moral kind of a guy. I know very few kinds of people I would put in the category of my son David. He’s really in his own wonderful world.”

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