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.

February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
Joseph G. Ramsey
Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail