FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

FBI Lies and Cover-Up Derail Biggest Terrorism Case Since 9/11

Photo by zaimoku_woodpile | CC BY 2.0

The FBI suffered another debacle last Friday when an Orlando jury returned a not guilty verdict for the widow of Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 in his attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in June 2016. The biggest terrorism case of the year collapsed largely thanks to FBI misconduct and deceit.

Noor Salman was charged with material support of a foreign terrorist organization and lying to the FBI about knowing about her husband’s pending attack on the nightclub. The FBI vigorously interrogated her for 18 hours, threatening her with the loss of custody of her infant son unless she signed a confession. Salman, who reportedly had an IQ of only 84, initially denied any knowledge but relented and signed a statement composed by an FBI agent.

Federal prosecutors flourished the FBI memo of Salman’s confession as the ultimate proof of her perfidy. But the memo contained false statements and contradictions which even the government could not sweep away. After the trial ended, the jury foreman (who wished to remain anonymous) notified the Orlando Sentinel: “I wish that the FBI had recorded their interviews with Ms. Salman as there were several significant inconsistencies with the written summaries of her statements.”

In this landmark case — as well as in the 2016 interview of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn — the FBI chose to rely on its agents’ ex post facto memos instead of the words and voices of individuals it was investigating. Four years ago, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the FBI and other federal agencies would henceforth record such interviews but little has changed from the J. Edgar Hoover era.

But that was not the biggest blow to federal credibility. On the day after the Pulse club massacre, then-FBI chief James Comey promised: “We will leave no stone unturned and we will work all day and all night to understand the path to that terrible night. … I don’t see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently, but we’ll look at it in an open and honest way, and be transparent about it.” But Comey provided zero transparency over the following 11 months prior to President Trump’s firing him last May. The FBI even redacted Mateen’s endorsement of ISIS in the initial transcripts they released of his discussions with hostage negotiators on the night of the shooting.

Comey complained of the difficulty of investigating lone wolf terrorists: “Our work is very challenging. We are looking for needles in a nationwide haystack.” But the key player in this case was in the FBI’s back pocket all along.

Eleven days after Noor Salman’s trial began, the Justice Department belatedly admitted that the killer’s father, Seddique Mateen, had been a paid FBI informant for 11 years, starting in 2005. Seddique Mateen, who came to America from Afghanistan, produced a pro-Taliban, anti-American Dari language television program. On the day after the massacre, when asked if the FBI was investigating Seddique Mateen, Comey replied, “no comment.” Comey was likely aware of the FBI’s close relationship to the biggest firearm massacre in U.S. history up to that point.

Prior to his attack, Omar Mateen was practically walking around Florida wearing a sandwich board proclaiming, “FUTURE MASS KILLER.” He had boasted of his connections to terrorists, threatened to have Al Qaeda kill a co-worker’s family, and talked of wanting to be a martyr — when he was not vocally vilifying African-Americans and minorities. Numerous individuals and organizations — including his mosque — warned authorities that he could be a threat to public safety. When FBI officials investigated him in 2013, he repeatedly liedto them. But the FBI swayed the local sheriff’s department to drop its investigation because a “confidential informant” assured FBI agents that Omar Mateen was not a terrorist and would not “go postal or anything like that.” That “confidential informant” may have been Mateen’s father.

The FBI’s cosseting of the father is also triple fishy. The FBI continued relying on Seddique Mateen even after hearing that he was seeking to finance terrorist attacks abroad. Four years before the massacre, the feds received a tip that he was seeking to raise up to $100,000 to bankroll attacks against the Pakistani government.

Indeed, just before Omar Mateen’s attack, his father transferred large sums of money to Turkey and Afghanistan. The FBI has formally permitted its informants to commit more than 5,000 crimes a year in recent times.

Instead of being honest with the American public about the FBI’s role in this case, the Obama administration and Comey rushed to exploit the Pulse Nightclub massacre to extend federal power. Democrats quickly seized upon the death toll to push new gun controllegislation. (Seddique Mateen also vigorously endorsed gun control when he appeared at a Hillary Clinton rally in August 2016.)

Comey said Omar Mateen had been “radicalized at least in part through the Internet” — very convenient for Comey’s campaign to sway Congress to give the FBI new power to seize Internet records of Americans without with a search warrant — the FBI’s “top legislative priority” for 2016. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., led the charge, assuring fellow senators that if the FBI could “more easily determine Internet activity of those suspected of radicalization,” the Orlando massacre might not have happened. Uh … maybe the son was radicalized by watching his father’s TV program?

The FBI’s Orlando debacle follows too many other cases in which the FBI failed to heed obvious warning signs of terrorist attacks — from 9/11 to the Fort Hood, Texas, killing spree to the Boston Marathon bombing to a Garland, Texas, attack spurred by an FBI agent. If not for the federal prosecution of Noor Salman, we likely never would have learned that Seddique Mateen was on the FBI payroll. How many other self-damning bombshells remain hidden in FBI files?

Comey has a new book coming out on April 17  entitled A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. Unfortunately, there is no reason to presume that either the FBI or Comey has become more honest since the corpses were removed from the Pulse nightclub. When will Washington recognize that a federal agency’s combination of vast power and almost boundless secrecy is no recipe for public safety?

Originally published in USA Today, April 3, 2018.

More articles by:

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors. He is on Twitter at @jimbovard. His website is at www.jimbovard.com  This essay was originally published by Future of Freedom Foundation.

November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
Jim Goodman
We call BS! Now, Will You Please Get Over This Partisanship?
Josh Hoxie
How Aristocracies are Born
Faisal Khan
The Weaponization of Social Media
James Munson
The Left Has Better Things to Do Than Watch Liberals Scratch Their Heads
Kenneth Culton
The Political Is Personal
Graham Peebles
Fracking in the UK
Alycee Lane
The Colonial Logic of Geoengineering’s “Last Resort”
Kevin Basl
How Veterans Changed the Military and Rebuilt the Middle Class
Thomas Knapp
Election 2018: The More Things Don’t Change, the More They Stay the Same
Gary Leupp
Europe and Secondary Iran Sanctions: Where Do We Go Now?
Saurav Sarkar
An Honest Look at Poverty in the Heartland
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail