Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A mass shooting occurs. When the smoke clears we learn that the attacker generally falls into one of two categories – mentally ill or a follower of The Religion That Shall Not Be Named by Any Leftist. Since discussing the motivations behind these perpetrators and solutions to stop future attacks involve actions that the Radical Left does not want to take, the conversation immediately jumps to something they can grasp – more government in our lives!
Dishonest talking points are tossed about, unrealistic laws are proposed, whose supporters admit would have done nothing to prevent the recent attacks, the laws fail, and the Radical Left angrily screams that we need to have a national conversation about guns. And by “have a conversation” (which we actually do each time), what is meant is “Anyone who disagrees with me needs to shut up and unquestionably accept everything I say.” Oddly enough, conservatives don’t buy into this form of “dialog”. Did I miss anything?
This time, I want to try something different – let’s have an actual conversation. At the end of this post I’m going to throw out a few questions to any Lefties who are genuinely interested in dialog. I admit that they will seem snarky, but if you want us to take your arguments seriously their points will need to be addressed.
But first, let’s review the facts that pertain to the terrorist attack in Orlando. Most of the rest of this post (up until the end) will consist mainly of the one-stop shopping analysis that National Review’s Jim Geraghty has done since the attacks. Even though parts of what you’re about to read don’t seem to relate directly to the gun debate, trust me – they are relevant to having a dialog. Shall we jump in the fire? Geraghty begins with A Parade of Red Flags:
We start off with some early warning signs:
At a barbecue in the spring of 2007, Mateen erupted when his hamburger touched a piece of pork, something he considered a religious affront. He told the class he ought to kill all of them, recalled Susanne Coburn Laforest, 61, who attended the barbecue as a trainee. Mateen told his classmates not to laugh at him because this was serious and “was going to come back and shoot us,” she said.
Not long after, Mateen was sitting in his car in the parking lot as classes were about to resume, when authorities swarmed the auto and escorted him off the property. An official told cadets Mateen had threatened to bring a gun on campus, according to Clinton Custar, who was attending the academy at the time and saw the incident from a classroom window.
This was the same month Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and Mateen threatened to carry out a similar massacre at the police academy because he felt like he was being taunted for being Muslim, said a fellow cadet.
Fast forward to where the FBI is alerted to Mateen’s:
A few years later, after he started talking about how he hoped police would kill his wife and child so he could become a “martyr”, his coworkers called the FBI. Mateen first came to the FBI’s attention in May 2013, after making a series of “boasts” to co-workers about his various ties to terrorist groups, a U.S. official told The Daily Beast, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the particulars of the case. “That triggered FBI to investigate.”
The FBI investigated more in 2014 when one of the members of his mosque became a suicide bomber. The Islamic Center was also attended on occasion by Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who is believed to be the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Abusalha, who joined Islamist militants fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, was in his early 20s when he died in 2014 after driving a truck loaded with explosives into a restaurant in Aleppo where Syrian government troops were stationed. This mosque has just 130 members. Two of them committed terror attacks.
During this probe, “an informant told the FBI that Mateen had mentioned watching videos by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born terrorist and al Qaeda recruiter who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.” This was the same radical cleric who exchanged messages with the Fort Hood shooter.
Earlier this year, Disney World security called the FBI. Disney security officials told the FBI they believe Mateen visited Disney World on April 26 to conduct surveillance, a law enforcement official told CNN. The FBI is investigating that possibility.
Then a few weeks ago, the gun store called the FBI. Mateen then called someone on the phone and began speaking in Arabic. Robert Abell says that’s when the salesman became suspicious.“He just made the mistake of asking for an armor that wasn’t normal,” he said. “And then on the phone conversation was another key that you might need to step back and look at this. Our guy made the right decision at the time. I’m not selling him anything.“As soon as we said we didn’t have the bulk ammo he walked out the door.”Abell says they denied the sale, which they have the right to do. But before they could get his name and information, Mateen left the store. The gun shop owner says they immediately alerted the FBI about the suspicious man who wanted to purchase body armor. But the feds never followed up and visited the store.“I don’t see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently,” FBI Director James Comey said earlier this week.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitted today that the FBI is unaware of the whereabouts of Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman. Salman has indicated she suspected Mateen was about to commit a terrorist attack, and even accompanied him to buy the weaponry he used to carry out the massacre. She insists, however, that as he left she tried to hold onto his arm so he wouldn’t leave. If the FBI believes she was aware of the impending attack, she could be prosecuted. “Has the shooter’s wife left the state of Florida?” a reporter asked Lynch during her press conference Tuesday.“Right now, I don’t know exactly the answer to that,” Lynch candidly replied. ”I believe she was going to travel but I do not know exactly her location now.”
Wait, it gets better. Yesterday Lynch said, “I cannot tell you definitively that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation. People often act out of more than one motivation. This was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate. So we will look at all motivations, and hopefully come to a conclusion there.”What, is her theory that the pledge of loyalty to ISIS was just a cover story for his anti-gay views?
Apparently everyone in Florida reported Mateen to the FBI at some point. Mohammad Malik says he warned the FBI about nightclub shooter Omar Mateen two years ago…Shortly after Abu-Salha launched his attack in May 2014, Malik heard Mateen talk about al-Awlaki’s videos. Malik says he then called the FBI.“He told me they were very powerful,” he recalled. “That raised the red flag even higher for me.”
How could the FBI have failed so spectacularly? Here’s how (emphasis mine):
There’s the rub. In 21st-century America, we have created a perverse incentive structure where fear of accusations of Islamophobia and/or racism takes priority over anything else, even preventing violence. While nobody could have foreseen the exact attack that Omar Mateen perpetrated, it’s abundantly clear that he was on track to do something awful, including murder.
Yet nothing was done, even though warnings were abundant. Simply put, any American today who is accused of Islamophobia faces a ruined life with loss of employment and social stigma. Whereas the cost of not preventing mass murder is merely hurt feelings and regret. In such an era, it’s difficult to find too much fault with the FBI. Per the cliché, they were only following orders.
All the same, it bears asking why the Bureau went for the direct approach, bringing Mateen in for questioning, instead of watching him from a distance. Any time you bring a possible suspect in for interrogation, you’re showing your hand—which isn’t always wise. Particularly given Mateen’s known ties to a notorious Orlando jailbird-turned-radical-imam, there were investigative avenues of approach here that were apparently not taken, with fateful consequences.
However, the FBI was following the lead of its political masters. It’s hardly a big secret that President Obama from the moment he arrived at the White House put the kibosh on any discussion of radical Islam as a security problem, even in classified channels. In 2009, the administration banned politically loaded words like “jihad” even in classified Intelligence Community assessments discussing terrorism – a message that was received loud and clear in the counterterrorism community. Missing the next 9/11 could be survived, career-wise, while accusations of Islamophobia would not be with Barack Obama in the White House.
Just how much of “an a—— with an unhealthy interest in Islamic terrorism” can you be before the government deems you a threat to others? For that matter, what’s a “healthy” interest in Islamic terrorism? “Oh, I don’t play the game, I’m just a fan of the Raqaa Jihadists!”
Maybe it’s easy for me to say this as a non-Muslim, but after an event like this, monitoring this guy’s mosque doesn’t sound invasive at all. I criticized the NSA for vacuuming up all metadata from all Americans with no limits or criteria, but if someone said, “can we look at the phone, computer records, and metadata for a guy who told his coworkers he wanted to become a martyr?” I’d say “hell, yes.” These perspectives aren’t that contradictory.
I think the “bar gun sales to terror watch list suspects” is a placebo, meant to establish the precedent that the government can restrict your Second Amendment rights based on secret evidence without judicial review. (It appears Mateen was no longer on the terror watch list, so he would have been free to make his purchases.) The FBI is flooded with too many cases, and maybe looking over its shoulder, worried about being seen as anti-Muslim. If so, some brilliant investigators are missing a key fact: the bureau is likely to be accused of being anti-Muslim no matter what it does.
So let’s not let this keep our country from asking some serious questions about how this could have been prevented:
Thankfully, while some reporters the question whether the real lesson is about tortured denial of sexual preference or whether to ban a gun the terrorist didn’t use, a few voices are asking why terrorist attacks keep occurring on American soil, launched by figures who were already on the radar of federal agents:
David Gomez, a former senior FBI counterterrorism official in Seattle, wrote in an online posting titled “How Did The FBI Miss Omar Mateen?” that “perhaps it is time to revisit” the basic legal standard that the FBI requires probable cause of a likely crime to open full-scale investigations. And James McJunkin, who once headed the FBI’s counterterrorism division, said that if agents didn’t dig deep enough in Orlando, it was probably because they were hampered by FBI guidelines. He said in preliminary investigations, for instance, there is a cap on the number of hours agents can conduct surveillance. “Those are rules or guidelines that were written by lawyers who don’t have the responsibility or accountability for doing thorough investigations,’’ McJunkin said. The agents probing Mateen, he added, “ran out of leads based upon the tools that they applied.
But if they had more tools, would they have found more leads?’’ Experts who study terrorism said that the bureau might require more agents and analysts to fight a metastasizing terror threat in which potential recruits are flooded with information online. FBI officials have said they have nearly 1,000 open investigations involving the Islamic State in all 50 states.
Step back for a second: if you have “nearly 1,000 open investigations involving the Islamic State in all 50 states” then it means ISIS isn’t “contained,” as President Obama asserted in November. That comment referred to the portion of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but if ISIS is growing and becoming more capable of launching deadly attacks more frequently in the Western cities, that almost makes the fight in the Middle East moot. The administration’s message on ISIS has been consistent: We’re containing them. We’re making progress. They’re not an existential threat. Don’t worry. We’ve got this.
It’s hard to buy the idea that this is merely a funding or manpower issue; as I noted yesterday, the federal government has enormous resources devoted to counterterrorism: “A 2011 Washington Post report calculated that “some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States” and “51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.” The vast majority of the people working in that giant security apparatus are dedicated, hardworking, intelligent and thorough. But something in their investigative process is generating false negatives: individuals who are indeed a threat are being scrutinized and assessed as non-threats, and Americans are dying as a consequence.
There are a few more pieces to this story that aren’t listed here, but there is enough info here to provide us with the background we need “To have a discussion”. Shall we? To my Lefty pals out there:
Given how spectacularly the government failed to stop this threat, how is the solution to stopping future attacks shifting more responsibility (by restricting citizens’ ability to defend themselves) to those same people?
You argue that individual citizens should not be able to arm themselves, and that only military or law enforcement (or of course, the EPA, IRS, HHS, FDA, etc) can be entrusted to responsibly wield lethal force. But since the government is made up of individual citizens, what is it about becoming a government employee that automatically imparts the skill and morality to handle a gun?
You’ve argued that the Orlando murders had nothing to do with Islam. What criteria are needed to be met for a terrorist attack to be considered motivated by Islam?
And one last question, but I’m not asking for an answer, as this is really more of a discussion ender. Conservatives reading this, don’t drop this question unless the person you’re debating is, well, following the Radical Leftist guidelines to “having a conversation” outlined at the top of this post. Because if your debate hasn’t already gotten nasty, it’s about to!
If Christians, Conservatives, Tea Partiers, and gun owners were as violent and dangerous as you fantasize them to be, how are you still alive?
And to every radical Leftist demanding the repeal of the 2nd, 5th, and 6th amendments, stay stupid my friends.