Part of the FBI Plan to Combat Terrorism: Do Not Mention the Terrorist’s Name

hoover with gunFBI Director Comey gave a statement yesterday. He did not take any questions. But he did tell us that the FBI did everything right. Only an FBI director and his agents could believe it had done everything right when a person who was identified as having terrorist intentions was known to them; they did ran investigation on him; found there was nothing; and then he went out and murdered people.

Comey said:  “We’re also going to look hard at our own work to see whether there is something we should have done differently. So far, the honest answer is: I don’t think so. I don’t see anything in reviewing our own work that our agents should have done differently.” 

It would seem to  me that if the FBI was on the level its director would have said: “this is the second time it has come to the public’s attention that a man who committed a horrible terrorist attack on Americans was known to the FBI prior to his act. Both men were investigated by the FBI and were cleared and their files closed. Yet they went on to commit this horrendous act. Obviously what we are doing is insufficient to protect the American people. We are going to revise our procedures so that future incidents like this will not happen.”

My statement would be too honest and forthright for the FBI. As predicted it went into cover-up mode telling us of all it did to investigate the man who murdered the 49 attendees at the LGBT Night Club. It apparently used undercover operatives and other investigative means for ten months and missed any indication that this person was going to be involved in terror down the line. Then it concludes it should not have done anything differently when it is clear what it did was not enough.

If it changes nothing then nothing will change. Comey asked people to report anything suspicious to the FBI. Most people will say “why bother. It does nothing with the information.”

Now let me tell Director Comey one thing he could have done different. Before Omar Mateen could get his assault weapon his name had to be cleared by the FBI. It never should have passed muster. Anyone the FBI has had reasons to investigate as a suspected terrorist, especially one it investigated for ten months, should be prohibited from buying an assault weapon. That’s quite simple. The FBI knows the person because it has investigated him; the FBI controls the list of people not allowed to buy those weapons; so it should have put his name on the list.

The FBI’s big and first commandment is to avoid embarrassment. By hiding its faults and errors it remains in a cycle where it never learns from its mistakes. Its refusing to find that it did anything wrong was expected.

One thing was totally strange. Director Comey announced that he was not going to use the name of the Omar Mateen because he believed Mateen would have wanted him to do this. He suggested that one reason behind Mateen’s act was to gain notoriety. An FBI Bulletin that followed also did not mention his name. I wonder if all the FBI agents are forbidden to use his name. Can’t anyone interested in who the person is just Google the incident?

Will anyone in the mainstream media comment on how puerile it is for the FBI director to do this? Would the world be better off or worse off if we did not know the names of John Wilkes Booth or Lee Harvey Oswald or James Earl Ray? Does knowing their names help them in any way?

Suppose Omar Mateen survived, would the FBI have mentioned his name? What if he survived and escaped would the FBI want to put his name on its Top Ten Wanted List. Why does the FBI have that list if it is not interesting in publicizing the criminal’s name?

Isn’t there any one in the FBI who could tell the director he was making an idiot of himself not mentioning the person’s name when every bit of media in the country, if not the world, is mentioning it. It shows two things: the FBI is all about form and not substance; and the people under the director are sycophantic weaklings.

We all know we learn from our mistakes. If we do not admit them we will persist in making the same mistake. Unfortunately for Americans the FBI has not learned.

12 thoughts on “Part of the FBI Plan to Combat Terrorism: Do Not Mention the Terrorist’s Name

  1. This is a long line of “developments” by the FBI and the US intelligence community. Somehow the NSA can monitor every US citizen but the FBI can not determine Mateen was a threat to the American public. This is a man who has a father who thinks he is the President of Afghanistan, who has a violent domestic past, who supposedly, we now know was anti gay, but gay, and espoused Islamic extremist views. Any interviewer/ investigator with a modicum of competence could have discerned this guy was a danger to himself and the American public.. The standard answer is we need more money, resources, man power, but they need more competence and accountability. If the middle manager bureaucrats started losing their jobs then maybe something might get done, but dont hold your breath.

    1. Dan:

      In a book I wrote I suggested the FBI needs to bring in people from the outside at the middle management level to change its culture. It really needs some people who want to bring some fresh air into it. You are right about the standard answer. The director after 9/11 Freeh justified the FBI messing up by saying it had asked for more money than Congress was willing to give it therefore its lapses are the fault of Congress. It seems obvious that the FBI’s present procedures are not effective. One suggestion to it would be that anyone who is investigated as a potential terrorist should not have his case closed out.

      1. Matt:
        I think I’ve mentioned this before, but years ago, Rudy Giuliani was routinely rumored to be the next FBI director, or in the running to become the next FBI director. On one occasion, I had the opportunity to ask Giuliani about it. He told me that he had no interest in the job, and the reason, he said, was that to effectively manage the FBI, he would have to bring in in his own team of people to take up all of the key upper-echelon positions in the Bureau. No one man, even in the top position, could ever hope to change the culture of the FBI, he said.

        Also, I think Ed was saying that it’s easy to criticize the Bureau with the benefit of hindsight. That’s true, but when you look at the whole picture, I think the Bureau is fair game. They’ve bragged again and again about all these sitting-duck arrests of mental cases. Now it’s time to own up to the fact that they can’t stop a terrorist with easy (legal) access to firearms, and a plan, however warped, to use these weapons. We’re talking about a terrorist who is very well known to the Bureau.

        1. Dan:

          Giuliani had worked in the U.S. attorney’s office so he had a good idea how the FBI operated. J. Edgar made it so that those who were the most subservient to his views moved up through the ranks; the most obsequious became the leaders and those who followed them were of a similar nature. The best FBI agents were those at the brick level who did the job, put up with the bull, and escaped as soon as they could. Those that rose to the top were the butt kissers who form a club admitting in only those who are like them. No director can overcome the culture; some as Comey buy into it and becomes in a sense the one who is being directed. His absurd “I will not state the name of the shooter” in the face of the FBI policy of blatantly naming others, even inviting the media on their raids, shows a confused man being controlled by others.

          Ed misunderstood my point. After the Tamerlan Tsarnaev case the FBI had to change what it was doing because Tamerlan was cleared when he should not have been. It didn’t but it knew what it was doing did not prevent Tamerlan so it should have. Here again the FBI procedures proved inadequate so it should not be saying everything was done right it should be saying what we have been doing is not right so we have to change it.

          The reason why it won’t do it is because of the people who are in the leadership who are deathly afraid of admitting what they are doing is wrong. Those people who brown nose their way to the top as the FBI demands of those who rise in its ranks are unable to accept the wrongness of their ways. There is no one in government or the media who will take them on.

  2. There have been a series of high-publicity arrests in which the FBI locked up mentally unstable men who possessed neither firearms nor explosives (unless they got them from an FBI informant.) We had no difficulty learning their identities since they were all announced by the Bureau. This string of apprehensions was supposed to convince us that the FBI was on the case. Now, with the appearance of a REAL terrorist with REAL firearms, the FBI says Not My Fault! And they refuse to speak his name. Isn’t this kind of behavior we expect when a 14-year-old girl is mad at her boyfriend? The FBI is a self-perpetuating bureaucracy. Scary.

    1. Dan:

      Good point. When the FBI entrapped some of those intellectually challenged individuals it had no trouble announcing their names to the world; when it lets one slip through its grasp it want for some strange reason to hide his identity. When I heard Comey give his talk I did have the feeling he was a young teenager in a pique acting out. The closer you look at it is is a childish outfit.

  3. Dictionary.com defines “hindsight” as follows:
    “noun
    1.
    recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence.”

    Accurate hindsight is much easier than accurate prediction of the future. This is true for you, me and the FBI. Anyone who tells you differently is a “charlatan”, defined by the same source:

    “noun
    1.
    a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.”

    1. Ed:

      What’s your point! Unless the FBI is certain a person will commit a terrorist act it must not do anything. Mine is when what they are doing is not working they should change.

      1. If what you are doing is not working, stop doing that.
        Examine what your alternative actions are.
        If none of the alternatives are any better, then do not do them.
        If an alternative has potential to be better, do a thorough risk-benefit analysis before implementing.
        If the risks are unbearable or outweigh the benefits, then do not do that alternative action.
        Otherwise, you are condemned to random flailing in the dark in the hope that something will work. Perhaps you will get lucky?

        Consider two sources that bear on decision making:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindsight_bias

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop

        In this particular case, beware of actions that infringe on personal liberty in exchange for a perception of greater safety.

        https://fee.org/articles/visualizing-the-trade-offs-between-liberty-and-safety/

  4. “According to the FBI’s affidavit, the informant, not Medina, came up with the idea of crediting the planned attack to the Islamic State.

    “You can do all that,” Medina told the informant. “Yeah, we can print up or something and make it look like it’s ISIS here in America. Just like that.”

    Nearly a year before Medina’s arrest, the FBI’s Miami office arrested another supposed terrorist, 23-year-old Cuban-American Harlem Suarez, also known as Almlak Benitez, whom former co-workers described as “a little slow.” The government alleged that Suarez conspired with an FBI informant to bomb a beach in Key West in support of the Islamic State. The FBI provided a fake backpack bomb.”

    https://theintercept.com/2016/06/12/before-nightclub-shooting-fbi-pursued-questionable-florida-terror-suspects/

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