Perhaps the only thing worse than the FBI’s self-admitted failure to follow up on a Jan. 5 tip that might have prevented Wednesday’s shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is its initial denial that it hadn’t taken all steps available to it in reaction to the call.
This pattern of behavior is hardly new for America’s top criminal investigation agency. Its most infamous fail was its decision no to follow up on an internal memo circulated two months before the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings citing “suspicions about Arab students at a Phoenix flight school, and … the possibility of a connection to [Osama] bin Laden.”
There have been other failures similar in nature to the most recent embarrassment. In April 2015, the agency failed to respond to a background check request from a gun dealer in West Columbia, S.C. within the three-day window mandated by the law. As a result, a weapon was sold to Dylann Roof, who went on to shoot nine people at a black church in Charleston.
Then there was the matter of Fort Hood shooter Army Maj. Nidal Hasan. The FBI had information that Hassan had been in contact with al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki but declined to investigate him. Hasan went on to kill 13 people and wound dozens of others in the 2009 shooting.
But what puts the latest botch in a class by itself is the timing, which could not be worse for Adam Schiff and fellow Democratic lawmakers. They have been defending the FBI against damning allegations of wrong-doing leveled against it in the Nunes FISA memo.
Now in response to the Parkland high school shooting, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to “conduct an immediate review” of both the Justice Department and FBI.