Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said Sunday on “ABC This Week” that the FBI has a lot on its plate and that there “is a role for the public to play” in preventing violence like the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida last week. When asked if the FBI had the manpower to follow up on tips like those they received and flubbed, Johnson replied, “I think that it’s for the FBI to tell us whether there are adequate resources.”
Well, let’s parse those words of wisdom. True, the public certainly has a role to play. We’ve all been urged by the government that “if we see something, say something.” That’s sometimes less than effective, thanks to the concern that if you report certain groups, you may be accused of a politically incorrect thought crime (remember the neighbor of the San Bernardino shooters who saw suspicious activities at their house but didn’t report them for fear of being called Islamophobic?) But in the Florida case, the public more than played a role. They couldn’t have done law enforcement’s job for them any more if they’d donned badges themselves.
Someone saw a YouTube comment under the shooter’s name (sorry, I make it a habit never to repeat the names of people who crave fame through killing others), reading, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The FBI claim they dropped it because “it lacked specific information about time, location and identity.” But if the most well-equipped cyber detection unit in the world couldn’t connect that post to the person who just shot up his former school, the fact that the name on it was the exact same unusual name as the shooter should have led anyone doing a simple Google search to the shooter’s incredibly disturbing social media posts. You’d think those alone might have sparked enough concern to warrant a visit. But no.
Since that wasn’t help enough, another caller phoned the FBI a month ago to warn them about that specific person. Again, nothing happened, this time because “protocols” weren’t followed correctly. There were also reports of about 20 worried calls to the local sheriff’s department over the past two years, and deputies made 39 emergency calls to the shooter’s home since 2010, with most of those visits marked “no written report” in the records. If the FBI had cared enough to pass its tip on to the sheriff, would that have made them take it more seriously than the 20 calls from the public?
Is this a case of staggering incompetence or carelessness, as it seems, or are 17 people really dead due to a lack of “adequate resources”? Well, the FBI has an annual budget of $8.7 billion. As Kevin D. Williamson at National Review points out, it employs over 35,000 people, including 13,084 agents and 3,100 intelligence analysts. Over 1,000 people work for the FBI field office in South Florida alone. And not one of them did the bare minimum required to head off this horrific crime. (Williamson’s article is at the link, and I warn you: he is not genteel in expressing his opinion of these bureaucrats’ deadly incompetence and their CYA excuses).