Bad FBI investigate strategy lets Orlando shooter get through the net
But the FBI s darned good at convincing various groups that they, too, can be terrorists, selling them on the idea, giving them a plan, selling them equipment, then arresting everyone in sight and claiming credit for breaking up another terror cell (namely, one the FBI created). It’s Potemkin terrorrist-fighting.
But following every lead and not exercising judgment doesn’t seem to be a good course. Trevor Aaronson reports in The Intercept:
The FBI first discovered Omar Mateen, the man who would kill 49 and injure more than 50 others at a gay nightclub, when he boasted of a friendship with terrorists.
Mateen told one of his co-workers at a private security firm in 2013 that he knew Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Mateen’s co-worker reported that information to the FBI.
Federal agents were already investigating Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s links toIbragim Todashev, an Orlando man who was shot and killed during a scuffle with an FBI agent.
A link between the Boston Marathon bombers and another Florida man sounded plausible. Agents took the tip seriously and interviewed Mateen on two separate occasions.
Their conclusion: Mateen was spinning fantasies and wasn’t a threat. His file was closed.
If the investigating agents were required to close Mateen’s file, the reason wasn’t due to lack of legal authority. The bureau forces agents to close assessments because agents are pursuing thousands of assessments nationwide under a policy to pursue any and all leads, no matter how ridiculous they are.
The caseload can be overwhelming for FBI offices.
Jeff Danik, who recently retired after 29 years with the FBI, worked in the bureau’s counterterrorism section in South Florida. He didn’t investigate Mateen — but he knew the agents based in Fort Pierce who did.
“These guys do not let things get away from them in investigations,” Danik said. “They pushed it as hard as they could.”
The problem, Danik said, was the FBI’s bureaucracy. FBI brass want agents to show immediate results. “If you cannot come up with articulable facts in a short period of time, you’re required to shut these cases down,” Danik said.
The FBI later reopened its investigation of Mateen, because . . .