Fooch's Update: The case has been referred for misdemeanor consideration.
No charges have been filed against linebacker Aldon Smith of the 49ers. According to the latest report, CSN Bay Area was told the case had been forwarded to the Los Angeles Police Department's Criminal Conspiracy Unit.
What exactly does that mean? To put it simply, it is a special operations unit. The mission of the bureau is counter terrorism. The unit is comprised of intelligence, HazMat and bomb squad units, among other things.
Smith was booked on a charge of false report of a bomb threat [California Penal Code Section 148.1(a)]. Investigation of this particular crime falls under the jurisdiction of the LAPD Counter Terrorism Unit. Thus, they have the obligation to investigate the report and establish charges of a threat to public safety and forward the investigation to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. Formal charges will be assessed from there.
TMZ has made an effort to portray Smith's arrest as a very serious charge. Any arrest of this caliber should not be taken lightly; but I appreciated the remarks made by one TSA official. TMZ inquired as to whether Aldon Smith would be put on the "No Fly List" after making a false bomb threat. The law enforcement officer replied, "The no-fly list is for terrorists, not idiots."
While this is a serious incident, the intent of such law is to counter terrorism. Smith has demonstrated some really bad judgment, but it is very difficult to contemplate the bureau will actually believe Aldon posed a real threat to public safety.
I will admit TSA presides over an ineffective, privacy-invading regime of "security". And, it's true a real terrorist probably wouldn't make a joke about terrorism. But, Smith's wise ass comment was senseless. By looking at the TSA guidelines and the intent of the counter terrorism law, it in no way excuses any of Smith's actions. He brought most of this upon himself. However, the punishment should fit the crime.
Any threat will be taken seriously and punishment will range from a fine to even a prison sentence. While I do not have all of the facts in this case, what strikes me as odd is that Smith made it past the security check point and to the gate, before he was detained. Although TSA has every right to further question a comment, I wonder if the TSA agent actually believed Smith posed a real threat to public safety, if he was allowed to proceed further. It appears to me, he was uncooperative during this questioning and that resulted in the arrest.
It should be noted courts are growing impatient and intolerant and will often charge perpetrators even in prank situations. Certainly, an investigation will evaluate all of the facts pertaining to Smith's behavior. Yet, considering the department's objective is to counter terrorism, it will more likely result in a significant fine for wasted resources. Like the TSA agent said, the laws are put into place "for terrorists, not idiots."