Newspaper Publishes Photos of Two Men in Marathon Crowd; UPDATE: The Wrong Guys?

In a move likely to provoke controversy and criticism, the New York Post has published photos of two men reportedly sought as a suspects in the deadly bombings that struck the Boston Marathon:

Investigators probing the deadly Boston Marathon bombings are circulating photos of two men spotted chatting near the packed finish line, The Post has learned.
In the photos being distributed by law-enforcement officials among themselves, one of the men is carrying a blue duffel bag. The other is wearing a black backpack in the first photo, taken at 10:53 a.m., but it is not visible in the second, taken at 12:30 p.m. …
Authorities know the names of the two men, but do not have enough evidence to make an arrest for Monday’s attack, which killed three and wounded 176, the sources said.

The two men depicted in the photos were among those who drew widespread scrutiny by users of Reddit and 4Chan poring over photos of the area around the finish line of Monday’s race, before and immediately after the explosions that killed three and injured more than 170 people. On Wednesday, ViralRead published a slide show of those photos.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) search for suspects in Monday’s attack caused confusion among journalists Wednesday, as reporters for CNN, Fox News and the Associated Press first said they had been told by sources that a suspect had been arrested. Those accounts were quickly contradicted by an official statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that asked the media “to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.” A scheduled press conference by federal officials involved in the investigation was then delayed and subsequently canceled.

UPDATE: Max Read at Gawker says the Post has identified the wrong guys:

After its embarrassing performance on Monday in the aftermath of the marathon bombings, has the Post redeemed itself by scooping the first, much-discussed photos of the suspects?
No. As CBS’ John Miller reports, neither man is likely to be a suspect in the bombings, and these are not the pictures of the possible suspects that authorities plan on releasing. But I didn’t need John Miller to tell me that— the “persons of interest” in the photos are two local kids who had already been checked out by Reddit and other message-board “crowd-sleuthing” efforts yesterday, and found to be a incredibly unlikely suspects.

According to Gawker, “the guy in the blue track jacket almost certainly isn’t a bomber. … He’s a Moroccan-American kid, a local high-school soccer player and track runner … who works at Subway.”

UPDATE II: The blogger Allahpundit writes at the popular conservative Hot Air site:

[T]hese obviously were the guys in the photos being shown to the media last night, per the CNN interview [with former Bush administration Homeland Security advisor Fran Townsend on Erin Burnett's program]. So why were cops spreading them around if there aren’t even the main suspects? Maybe there was a miscommunication with the feds, or maybe it’s part of an effort to run down anyone who looked even a little “suspicious.”