People across the country have expressed shock and/or outrage that Omar Mateen was able to murder 49 patrons of a gay nightclub even though the FBI conducted a 10-month investigation of him in 2013 after he reportedly told co-workers he was connected to terrorists. To quote the New York Times story:
“First he claimed family connections to Al Qaeda,” which, like the Islamic State, is a Sunni Muslim terrorist group, James Comey, the F.B.I. director, said Monday. “He also said he was a member of Hezbollah,” a Shiite group in conflict with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
“He said he hoped that law enforcement would raid his apartment and assault his wife and child so that he could martyr himself,” Mr. Comey said.
“Our investigation involved introducing confidential sources to him, recording conversations with him, following him, reviewing transactional records from his communications,” and searching government records for mentions of him, the director said. “We then interviewed him twice. He admitted making the statements his co-workers reported, but explained that he did it in anger because he thought his co-workers were discriminating against him and teasing him because he was Muslim.”
If you’re tempted to say “Wow, how can the FBI be so inept?” a history lesson is in order. Consider that this is the same agency (along with the CIA) that allowed Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President John F. Kennedy after interviewing Oswald and keeping tabs on him for years.
First off, the FBI did not have nearly as many home-grown terrorists to keep track of back in the early 1960’s when most Americans sought stability after the horrors of WW II. Secondly, how could the agency not be aware of Oswald? The guy practically walked around with a neon sign around his neck that said, “Kick me, I’m a Communist.”
In the Cold War era, Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union, tried to defect and, when refused, married a Soviet citizen. Oswald also traveled to Mexico and visited the Soviet and Cuban Embassies. When he was refused a Visa, Oswald reportedly stormed out saying, “I’m going to kill Kennedy for this.” Know who wrote the memo relating this story? Um, J. Edgar Hoover, the uber boss of the FBI. All this information, by the way, comes from the book “A Cruel and Shocking History: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination” by former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon. The book came out in 2013 and largely relates all that the FBI and CIA hid from the Warren Commission, the body that looked into the Kennedy Assassination.
The book also recounts the story of how Oswald reacted to the FBI trying to interview his wife Marina. Oswald reportedly wrote a note to the FBI agent involved telling him he would blow up the FBI headquarters in Dallas. The agent later told reputable sources that he was ordered to destroy that note after JFK’s assassination.
It’s no comfort to know that the FBI has been screwing up as long as it’s been interviewing potential terrorists but it is instructive.