The FBI is coming under renewed scrutiny, after it was revealed that they received tips and strong clues that the shooter behind Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida planned to pull the trigger.
Americans have already been asking difficult questions about how the bureau handled the investigation of the Oct. 1 attack in Las Vegas, and the entire Department of Justice is caught up in a political scandal that implies bias and incompetence.
Now there is another question on people’s minds: Could the FBI have done more to stop the Florida incident?
According to CNN, the FBI received a tip as far back as September that a person named Nikolas Cruz might be planning a school shooting. “Ben Bennight, the 36-year-old YouTube video blogger from Mississippi, noticed in September an alarming comment on a video he’d posted,” the news network explained.
That comment declared, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” and was left by a person with the exact same name as the suspect behind the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Another similar tip was allegedly received by the FBI, but the bureau seemed to do almost nothing with the information.
“It was one of at least two alleged threat reports about the suspected shooter that the FBI received, according to a law enforcement official,” CNN reported. “In both cases, the FBI did not share the information with local law enforcement, the official said.” Emphasis added.
Bennight — one of the individuals who tipped the FBI about the suspect — said that agents did follow up with him to see if he knew the person who made the threatening comment, but when he told them he didn’t have more details, investigators appear to have stopped there.
“No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment,” insisted Special Agent Robert Lasky in a news conference after Wednesday’s shooting.
“The FBI conducted database reviews, checks but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment,” he stated.
Think about this for a moment. The person who left the threatening comment hinting at a school shooting apparently used their full name, which matches the suspect who was arrested. Even with a full name, the FBI couldn’t figure out who this person was?
Google-owned YouTube, where the comment was left, almost certainly tracks the IP addresses and vast amounts of other data — including GPS coordinates from Android phones — about each user who has an account. They surely would have cooperated with the FBI and shared this information.
Billions of dollars are spent on the FBI and the NSA, almost every detail of online activity is tracked in some way, and with the full name of a suspect the top investigators in the world couldn’t even narrow down where one person lived? If you’re a bit skeptical of that explanation, you’re not alone.
“(W)hen the FBI said it was the same name, the first thing that went through my mind was, ‘Wow, I hope you were at least watching this guy that I alerted you to months ago,” Bennight told CNN. They were not.
The frustrating reality is that big government agencies have a pretty appalling record when it comes to detecting and stopping crimes. FBI agents knew about Omar Mateen, but could not stop the Orlando nightclub shooting.
FBI officials were warned about the Tsarnaev brothers, but moved too sluggishly to prevent the deadly Boston marathon bombing. More recently, they moved extremely slowly in stopping a pedophile from abusing underage gymnasts.
There’s more: Government investigators failed to pass on information that could have stopped the Texas church shooter from obtaining weapons. The TSA routinely fails unannounced tests and allows dangerous weapons through airport security.
There is a disturbing trend of federal agencies dropping the ball when it comes to their sworn duties: The security and safety of American lives. Meanwhile, FBI authorities seemed to have plenty of time to scheme how to derail a presidential candidate, while seeing national security as boring.
It’s time to demand answers from these officials. Stopping every incident may not be possible, but the priorities and effectiveness of America’s protectors seem to be completely backward.