Conservatives Blast Obama On Terror Attack, Miss Key Clues

 

At the National Press Club this week, a panel of conservatives harshly attacked President Obama and his administration's handling of Orlando-type terrorism threats. Their partisan passion helps illuminate the nation's deep voter divides and lack of basic information even among elected officials about covert intrigues.

Author Philip B. Haney and four other current or former officials accused the president of leading an incompetent administration whose top law enforcers and other key personnel coddle radical Islamists.

Philip HaneyOur column today reports on their allegations, which matched similar claims being raised by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and conservatives elsewhere around the nation. Indeed, nearly half of the two dozen attendees at the press conference were Trump supporters who rose in near-unison several times to applaud the major panelists.

In Florida, RealClearPolitics reported, Florida Governor Rick Scott: "We're Fed Up" With Radical Islam.

Update: A second part of our coverage will report on the visit this week by the Saudi Arabian monarchy's heir apparent, Deputy Prince Mohammad bin Salman, to shore up its U.S. relations with a public relations offensive in the wake of increasing criticism regarding its pro-Islamist policies and their suspected links to 9/11, the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, and other threats to U.S. interests. Our next segment will raise questions about official accounts and media treatments of the nightclub shooting.

For now, this column reports evidence from conservatives showing that top officials at the very highest levels apparently do not trust many subordinates and elected oversight officials with sensitive information even though the U.S. constitutional system requires that an elected congress maintain oversight over governmental operations. We provide details on that in Part II of this report.

We begin with the featured speaker June 14, Philip B. Haney. The author and former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) counter-terrorism expert is shown at left in a screen shot from a television interview.

Philip Haney "At DHS, See Something, Say Nothing" coverHaney alleges that the Obama administration, like the Bush administration, hamstrings the DHS and other public safety personnel with this rule for suspects: "Even if a person is affiliated with a known terrorist organization you [the federal employee] can't assume he is a terrorist."

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Bush Administration Department of Defense Inspector General Joseph Schmitz were among those at the press conference endorsing Haney's warning and his new book, See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government's Submission to Jihad, co-authored by WND editor Art Moore.

Bachmann, for example, said the FBI and DHS repeatedly thwarted her attempts to get answers to her questions on the kinds of security issues raised by Haney, even though she is an attorney who had been a member of the House Intelligence Committee before leaving office in 2015.

Haney complained that after he identified some 300 suspected "terrorists" from non-classified documents he was subjected to a federal grand jury probe and treated with such suspicion otherwise that he was ousted from his office, confined to cubicle, and forced to surrender the gun that he normally carried as part of his workday.

Omar MateenHaney and other panelists described his longtime concerns as especially timely following the fatal shootings in the early morning hours of June 12 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Authorities have said the shooter was Omar Mateen, 29, a security guard who had been been under repeated FBI investigation on suspicions of sympathy for radical terrorism.

Mateen, shown in a photo, was reported to have vowed allegiance to both ISIS and Al Qaeda as he used an AK-47 semi-automatic and a handgun for the killing spree that killed 49 nightclub patrons and staff at the gay club before police team killed him at approximately 5 a.m.

National Controversy

ISIS members marching in Raqqa, January 2014This January 2014 file photo shows ISIS warriors marching in Raqqa. Serious questions linger about how the group has supplied itself with trucks, foreign fighters, arms and funding from oil smuggling over arid conditions in skies dominated by opponents

Before the rampage, Mateen had been employed by the giant global security firm G4S beginning in 2007. Mateen was born in Queens, NY. His father Seddiqui Mateen is an Afghan-born public affairs commentator who in recent years has hosted a U.S.-based radio show on the congressionally funded Voice of America.  

The shootings left more 50 wounded in addition to the 49 killed during the three-hour rampage and standoff.

The tragedy has fostered fear of terrorism, plus tensions regarding other hot-button issues that include gun control, and the status of gays, Latinos and Muslims. 

On June 13 promptly after the Orlando attack, Trump boasted that he was correct in predicting terror and he suggested that President Obama secretly sympathizes with terrorists. Details are here in a sample of Washington Post coverage to illustrate these points: Trump blames Obama for attack, calls for ban on Middle Eastern immigrants.

Soon afterward, Trump cited a 2012 document to claim administration “support” for the Islamic State. Details are here: Trump says he was ‘right’ about Obama and terrorists, citing questionable 2012 intelligence cable. Trump also criticized presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump was not alone in raising many questions about why the shooting occurred, as reported by the Washington Post in Republicans join Obama in rebuking Trump.

Obama's rebuttal was delivered at the White House in his Remarks by the President After Counter-ISIL Meeting. Clinton also responded with harsh attacks on Trump. She said his remarks showed he is not fit to be president.

Haney's 'Say Nothing' Allegations

Philip Haney was the featured speaker for June 14 press conference, whose sponsorship and speaker roster were not widely disseminated in advance. The listing on the press club's website announced little more than that former Obama officials would be criticizing the administration. Yet Haney was originally hired by DHS during the Bush administration, which inflicted the reprisals upon him. Another speaker was contractor William Ferri, former CPB assistant Port Director for the Port of New York / Newark at DHS until he ended a long career in federal service in 2014. 

The announcement failed to identify a sponsoring organization aside from listing Jeff Epstein as a contact. Jeffrey M. Epstein is a longtime conservative activist whose organizations previously opposed 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, the current Secretary of State. Like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Epstein's group alleged that Kerry had exaggerated his Vietnam War record, a claim Kerry and other Democrats long ignored until the Kerry candidacy incurred serious public relations damage.

Haney's author's bio states that he studied Arabic culture and language while working as a scientist in the Middle East before becoming a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security's predecessor office in 2002 as a Customs & Border Protection (CPB) agriculture officer.

At the new DHS, Haney became an armed CBP officer and served several tours of duty at the National Targeting Center near Washington, DC, where he quickly was promoted to its Advanced Targeting Team.

He is reported to have won numerous awards and commendations from his superiors for compiling information and "producing actionable reports that led to the identification of hundreds of terrorists." He has specialized in Islamic theology and the strategy and tactics of the global Islamic movement. He retired in July 2015. His co-author Art Moore, who was present at the panel discussion, is an editor for WND (World Net Daily), the book's publisher.

Haney began his talk by repeating an oath of office to the Constitution. The video production company Black and Blond media, led by Bob Parks and Laura Erickson, published this video of Haney's talk.

 

Haney's book, released May 24, asserts that the national campaign by the DHS to raise public awareness of terrorism and terrorism-related crime known as "If You See Something, Say Something" but has effectively become "If You See Something, Say Nothing."

"Haney's insider, eyewitness account, supported by internal memos and documents," WND's book publicity says, "exposes a federal government capitulating to an enemy within and punishing those who reject its narrative." Highlights include:

  •    How the Bush administration stripped him and other frontline officers of their ability to define the threat;
  •    How much the Obama administration knew in advance of the Boston Marathon bombing and how it launched an ongoing cover-up on behalf of a major ally;
  •    The administration’s stealth policy to protect Islamic leaders with supremacist beliefs and violent-jihadist ties, allowing them to freely travel between the U.S. and the Middle East;
  •    The scope of access to the White House and the classified information the Obama administration gave to members of Muslim Brotherhood front groups; and
  •    The damning intelligence on Muslim Brotherhood-linked leaders invited to sit at the table and help form national-security policy.

Bachmann, who wrote the Foreword to Haney's book, Gohmert, Ferri, and Schmitz each supported the author's views, and described their frustration at what they regarded as Obama administration lapses in investigating suspected terrorists and their backers. In The Hill, Haney amplified his concerns last December to a Capital Hill audience in, Administration nixed probe into Southern California jihadists.

Should Congress and FBI Keep Secret Who Funded 9/11 Terrorists?

Following their remarks, the Justice Integrity Project asked Gohmert and Bachmann whether support release of a still-sealed 28-page section of a 2002 congressional report identifying who funded 9/11 terrorists.

The importance is because the answers help determine whether critics simply want to bash opponents for partisan purposes -- or seek to understand long-suppressed and emerging evidence on the funding sources for terror, including the attacks that caused three World Trade Center buildings to collapse in New York and massive carnage at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Bob Graham, former Florida senatorGohmert and Bachmann told us separately as they were leaving that they supported release of the 28 pages of the Joint Senate-House Intelligence Committee investigation.

The Bush administration and later the Obama administration have sought to keep the probe secret on supposed national security grounds.

Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) is shown in a file photo at left. He co-authored the Senate-House report but who is forbidden to discuss its contents, is among those who say there is nothing in it violating national security. Graham has, however, described the 28 pages as a "smoking gun" implicating Saudi Arabia in the attacks. The Saudi monarchy and its defenders have denied the claim.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie on 28 PagesHouse Resolution 779 calls for enforcing the Constitution's separation-of-powers principle by directing the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Intelligence to publish in the Congressional Record the 28 pages redacted from the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. The resolution cites President George Washington's Farewell Address warning against paying "habitual" homage toward any foreign nation.

Others in the House with the same message include Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), and Thomas Massie (R-KY), whose views are shown in the graphic. 

House support for release has reached 70 co-sponsors, advocates say, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), as reported in New House Resolution Directs Intel Committee to Release 28 Pages From 9/11 Report.  

The release and the related issue of whether 9/11 families can sue terrorist financiers remains timely. Federal courts in New York City have protected the Saudi government from litigation in part because the Obama administration seeks to protect relations with Saudi officials on the grounds of national interest.

CIA Director John Brennan, whose key posting earlier in his 25-year career with the agency was as head of its station in Saudi Arabia, has long opposed release of the congressional report. More recently, he has taken the fallback position that if the report is released its findings should be regarded as preliminary and otherwise flawed.

President Obama granted an audience June 17 with the monarchy's number two leader and heir apparent, Mohammed bin Salman. We report on that visit in the next part of this series.

Why?

In sum, the events of the past week ranging from Orlando to the United States capital pose many serious questions. With some exceptions, the mainstream media are suppressing or trivializing many relevant facts that clarify why mysteries remain and terror unfolds as it does in the United States and overseas.

The behavior of a bipartisan consensus of U.S. elites, including those running the major news media, can only be explained by probing the vast influence of oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies and their allies on Wall Street, the arms and energy sectors, and their minions in the nation's capital. That is the subject of our next column before we return to the bizarre specifics of the Orlando massacre.

 

This column was updated on June 19.

 
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Related News (Reverse chronological order)

Judicial Watch, Orlando Terrorist Worked at Company Hired by DHS to Transport Illegal Aliens, Tom Fitton (shown in file photo), June 17, 2016. The ISIS terrorist who committed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history worked for a Tom Fittonsecurity company contracted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect federal facilities nationwide and transport illegal immigrants apprehended in the southern border region. Earlier this month, Judicial Watch launched an investigation into the Florida-based security firm, G4S, after breaking a story about illegal immigrants being quietly transported from the Mexican border to Phoenix and getting released without proper processing or court appearance documents.

G4S was contracted by DHS to drive the group of illegal aliens, classified as Other Than Mexican (OTM), from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector where they were in custody to a Phoenix bus station where they went their separate way. The OTMs were from Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala and Border Patrol officials told Judicial Watch they were in custody for a couple of days and ordered to call family members in the U.S. so they could purchase a bus ticket. Authorities didn’t bother checking the identity of the U.S. relatives or if they’re in the country legally, according to a Border Patrol official directly involved in the matter.

Judicial Watch was on the scene when several vanloads of OTMs arrived at the Phoenix Greyhound station on Buckeye Road just a few days ago. A photo accompanying our story shows one of the uniformed G4S guards that drove a vanload of OTMs from Tucson to Phoenix earlier this month. G4S claims to be the world’s leading security solutions group with operations in more than 100 countries and 610,000 employees. G4S has more than 50,000 employees in the U.S. and its domestic headquarters is in Jupiter, Florida. Judicial Watch has filed a number of public records requests to get more information involving the arrangement between G4S and the government, specifically the transport of illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to other parts of the country.

Omar Mateen via My SpaceMiami Herald, ‘Clerical error’ on Orlando killer’s psychological evaluation named wrong doctor, David Ovalle, June 17, 2016. Nine years ago, the state of Florida received documentation from a security firm vouching for the mental health of Omar Mateen, who launched a bloody attack this week on Orlando nightclub patrons. But the psychologist whose name appears on the document in state records said Friday that she never evaluated a man who now ranks as the worst mass killer in American history. In fact, she wasn’t even living in Florida when the evaluation was supposedly completed.

The revelation Friday became another source of scrutiny for the G4S security firm, which was known as Wackenhut at the time. The psychological evaluation done for the company, which is required under state law, cleared Mateen to carry a firearm as a private security guard.

“What I do know is that in September 2007, I was not living or working in Florida, I was not performing any work for Wackenhut, and I did not administer any type of examination to Omar Mateen,” Dr. Carol Nudelman, who now lives in Colorado, said in a statement released through her attorneys to the Miami Herald and other papers who had published her name. The company on Friday called the discrepancy a “clerical error” and said that Mateen was indeed evaluated, but by a different psychologist.

The global security firm — which does work in more than 100 countries — is locally based in Jupiter. Its operations have come under scrutiny a number of times over the years. In the mid-2000s, G4S was accused of overbilling Miami-Dade County taxpayers of at least $3 million for security services that were not actually provided at Metrorail stations. But a criminal case against company employees fizzled in 2012, with charges being dropped against two high-level executives.

In 2009, a G4S employee shot and killed two coworkers while on a security detail in Iraq. A British inquest later revealed the company didn’t do enough to vet the man. The company was also criticized for not providing enough security for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The company fell under the spotlight again Sunday after its employee, Mateen, stormed the Pulse gay nightclub on Sunday, killing 49 and wounding 53. Mateen had been a G4S employee since 2007.

Washington Post, The volatile life of Omar Mateen, Kevin Sullivan and William Wan, He often masked his turmoil, but over the years, the Orlando shooter’s inner conflict seemed to explode again and again — toward classmates, toward co-workers, toward his first wife and finally toward the 49 strangers he left massacred on the bloody floor of the Pulse nightclub.

 Mohammed bin Salman and Ashton Carter in DoD meeting, June 16, 2016

Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the Pentagon June 16, 2016 (DoD photo). The Saudi leader came to the United States under what some have described as a "charm offensive."  The Saudis argue that they are seeking to help the U.S. fight terror, diversify their economy and gradually increase civil liberties, including reduction of current harsh restrictions on women. The Saudis disputed the accuracy of reported threats against the United States if it fails to protect Saudi Arabia from potential legal liability to 9/11 families. The Saudis also are reported also to want the United States to step up military action to overthrow Syria's government, along with advancement of other regional goals of the kingdom.

U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Secretary, Saudi Counterpart Meet on Mutual Security Issues, Terri Moon Cronk, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, today discussed wide-ranging security issues of interest to both of their nations, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters following the bilateral meeting.

Cook said the two defense leaders talked about the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, events in Yemen, the recent Saudi role in successful operations aimed at al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Saudi Arabia’s work to upgrade its military capabilities.

Washington Post, CIA director: ISIS remains a potent threat despite 2-year military campaign, Joby Warrick, June 16, 2016. The head of the Central Intelligence Agency offered a sobering John Brennanview Thursday of the Islamic State’s capabilities, saying that despite setbacks the jihadist group will likely intensify its global terrorist campaign in the months ahead.

CIA director John Brennan (shown in an official photo), in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, remains a potent force in Iraq and Syria and remains capable of striking countries far from its base in the Middle East, nearly two years after the start of the U.S.-led military campaign aimed at defeating the group.

Washington Post, Trump says he was ‘right’ about Obama and terrorists, citing questionable 2012 intelligence cable, Karen DeYoung and Jose A. DelReal, June 15, 2016. Days after revoking The Post’s credentials for saying he suggested the president was complicit in the Orlando attack, the presumptive GOP nominee tweeted that was, in fact, what he had “insinuated.”

Just two days after Donald Trump implied that President Obama sympathized with terrorists, provoking a backlash that included members of his own party, the presumed Republican presidential nominee declared himself “right,” based on a published report claiming administration “support” for the Islamic State.

The story was based on a declassified 2012 cable written by a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) official, addressed to about two dozen military and national security agencies and officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Labeled as “information report, not finally evaluated intelligence,” it refers to “the general situation” in Iraq and Syria in the early days of the armed insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Washington Post, Republicans join Obama in rebuking Trump, Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis, June 14, 2016. Top Republicans joined with President Obama and other Democrats Tuesday in sharply condemning Donald Trump’s reaction to the nightclub massacre in Orlando, decrying his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his questioning of Obama’s allegiances as divisive and out of step with America’s values.

Donald TrumpTrump — who just a week ago signaled an intent to snap his campaign into a more measured tone for the general election — showed no sign of backing down from his suggestions that Obama was somehow connected to or sympathetic with terrorists, telling the Associated Press that the president “continues to prioritize our enemy” over Americans.

In separate appearances, both Obama and his potential successor, likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, blasted Trump’s proposal to ban foreign Muslims from the United States as dangerous and contrary to the nation’s traditions.

A visibly angry Obama also dismissed Trump’s repeated demands for him to use the term “radical Islam” when speaking about the Orlando shootings and other attacks. “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away,” Obama said. “This is a political distraction.” Clinton described Trump’s response to Orlando as rife with “conspiracy theories” and “pathological self-congratulations.”

The remarkably bipartisan outcry over Trump’s positions — coming at a moment of national mourning after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — set off a new wave of alarm within the GOP over whether the mogul’s promised pivot to the general election would ever materialize. The rift also highlighted the enduring tensions between establishment figures who want to be more inclusive and the bulk of the party, which backs Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and has rallied around him as the presumptive nominee.

Some of Trump’s most ardent backers defended his response to the Orlando attack, saying drastic measures were needed to keep the nation safe. But most Republicans on Capitol Hill tried to distance themselves from Trump’s comments following the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed at least 49 people. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) refused to respond to questions about Trump at his weekly news conference.

President Obama

President Barack Obama waits backstage at the Department of the Treasury before delivering a statement after a National Security Council meeting on the investigation into the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., and to review efforts to counter-ISIL. Waiting with the President are, from left, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew; Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, June 14, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

White House, Remarks by the President After Counter-ISIL Meeting, Treasury Department, President Obama, June 14, 2016.

THE PRESIDENT:  I just met with my National Security Council as part of our regular effort to review and intensify our campaign to destroy the terrorist group ISIL. Our meeting was planned before the terrible attack in Orlando. But obviously that tragedy -- the awful loss of life -- shaped much of our work today.  In all of our efforts, foremost in our minds is the loss and the grief of the people of Orlando -- those who died, those who are still recovering, the families who have seen their loved ones harmed, the friends of ours who are lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender who were targeted. I want to remind them that they are not alone. The American people, and our allies and friends all over the world, stand with you and are thinking about you, and are praying for you.

As Director Comey has said, we currently do not have any information to indicate that a foreign terrorist group directed the attack in Orlando. It is increasingly clear, however, that the killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the Internet. He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized. As we know all too well, terrorist groups like ISIL have called on people around the world and here in the United States to attack innocent civilians. Their propaganda, their videos, their postings are pervasive and more easily accessible than we want. This individual appears to have absorbed some of that.  And during his killing spree, the shooter in Orlando pledged allegiance to ISIL.

As I’ve said before, these lone actors or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent. But across our government, at every level -- federal, state and local, military and civilian -- we are doing everything in our power to stop these kinds of attacks. We work to succeed a hundred percent of the time. An attacker, as we saw in Orlando, only has to succeed once. Our extraordinary personnel -- our intelligence, our military, our homeland security, our law enforcement -- have prevented many attacks and saved many lives.  And we can never thank them enough. But we are all sobered by the fact that, despite the extraordinary hard work, something like Orlando can occur.

In our meeting today, Director Comey updated us on the investigation in Orlando. Secretary Johnson reviewed the measures we continue to take on behalf of our homeland security. Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford reviewed the military campaign against ISIL. And I want to thank Secretary Lew and his team here at Treasury for hosting us and for their tireless efforts to cut off the money that ISIL relies on to fund its terror network.

At the outset, I want to reiterate our objective in this fight. Our mission is to destroy ISIL. Since I last updated the American people on our campaign two months ago, we’ve seen that this continues to be a difficult fight -- but we are making significant progress. Over the past two months, I’ve authorized a series of steps to ratchet up our fight against ISIL: additional U.S. personnel, including Special Forces, in Syria to assist local forces battling ISIL there; additional advisors to work more closely with Iraqi security forces, and additional assets, including attack helicopters; and additional support for local forces in northern Iraq. Our aircraft continue to launch from the USS Harry Truman, now in the Mediterranean. Our B-52 bombers are hitting ISIL with precision strikes.  Targets are being identified and hit even more quickly -- so far, 13,000 airstrikes.  This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders.

And as a result, ISIL is under more pressure than ever before. ISIL continues to lose key leaders.....So far, we’ve taken out more than 120 top ISIL leaders and commanders.  And our message is clear:  If you target America and our allies, you will not be safe. You will never be safe....

RealClearPolitics, Florida Governor Rick Scott: "We're Fed Up" With Radical Islam, Tim Hains, June 14, 2016. Florida governor Rick Scott says the Orlando shooting was an attack on our nation, calling for assistance from the White House as he declares an emergency declaration for Florida. "As a society, when are we going to say we have to destroy ISIS?" he asked. "We have San Bernardino, we've watched the Paris attacks. When are we gonna say, 'This is enough'? As a society, we're fed up. We want ISIS destroyed. Radical Islam does not belong here. If you believe in evil, we're gonna do something about it."

Washington Post, Orlando gunman had been on FBI watch list, boasted about al-Qaeda, but FBI deemed him not a threat in 2014, Matt Zapotosky, Adam Goldman and Brian Murphy, June 14, 2016. Omar Omar MateenMateen (shown in photo) had been placed on a terrorism watch list and was interviewed twice before a probe ended in March 2014. His name resurfaced months later during an investigation of an American suicide bomber in Syria, and investigators, again, moved on. The agency plans to review whether warning signs were missed.

Washington Post, Shooter had been seen on gay dating apps, had visited Pulse nightclub, William Wan and Anne Hull, June 14, 2016. As details emerged about the man behind the violent rampage, former classmates recalled his bizarre reaction on 9/11.

FBI logoWashington Post, After dropping probes of 3 attackers, FBI faces skepticism, Jerry Markon and Adam Goldman, June 14, 2016. As in the Orlando massacre, assailants at the Boston Marathon and at a Texas cartoon exhibition had crossed the bureau’s radar well before carrying out their attacks. The mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was the third time in recent years that someone who had been under FBI scrutiny carried out a terrorist attack, raising questions about whether the legendary crime-fighting agency is equipped to stop escalating threats in the digital age, experts and former federal officials said Tuesday.

The deadly assault at the Pulse nightclub followed the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and last year’s shooting at a Texas exhibition of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. While the circumstances of each case varied widely, they were united by a common thread: The FBI had looked at one of the accused assailants, including an intensive 10-month probe of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen.

Washington Post, Orlando shooter’s firm ran two background checks on him, it said, and found nothing, Christian Davenport and Drew Harwell, June 13, 2016. U.K.-based G4S said the FBI did not report any findings to the firm after the agency investigated him for possible ties to terrorism.

Washington Post, Donald Trump expands proposed ban on Muslim, Mideast immigrants, Philip Rucker, Jose A. DelReal and Isaac Stanley-Becker, June 13, 2016. The GOP candidate outlined a radical rewriting of U.S. counterterrorism policy, while Democrat Hillary Clinton advocated enhancing existing policies.

Washington Post, New details emerge in siege at Orlando club, Bodies slowly removed from nightclub after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Hayley Tsukayama, Jerry Markon and Brian Murphy, June 13, 2016. The last bodies were removed Monday from a blood-splattered Orlando nightclub as investigators from Florida to Kabul expanded the hunt for clues into the lone gunman who professed allegiance to the Islamic State while he waged the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

What is already known has left a host of questions, including the scope of FBI probes during at least two past investigations into the shooter, 29-year-old security guard Omar Mateen, for alleged terrorist sympathies. And the level of possible ties between Mateen and the Islamic State remains unclear.

Washington Post, The new normal: When tragedy strikes, Americans stand divided, Karen Tumulty, June 13, 2016. The horrific collision in Orlando of three of the most contentious issues in culture and politics — gay rights, gun control and terrorism — will likely only drive the country further apart.

Washington Post, Trump blames Obama for attack, calls for ban on Middle Eastern immigrants, Jose A. DelReal, June 13, 2016. The GOP presidential candidate said during a speech that "political correctness" and lax immigration laws have stifled efforts to combat radical jihadism.

FoxNews.com, Orlando gunman tied to radical imam released from prison last year, say law enforcement sources, Malia Zimmerman, June 12, 2016. EDITOR'S NOTE: Orlando's mayor on Monday revised the death toll in the nightclub shooting to 49, from 50. The 50th body was identified as gunman Omar Mateen. The gunman who murdered at least 50 people in a Florida nightclub early Sunday morning was a follower of a controversial gang leader-turned-bank robber who was released from prison last year despite warnings from prosecutors that he would recruit people to carry out violent acts, sources told FoxNews.com.

Washington Post, Gunman who killed 50 in Orlando nightclub had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Hayley Tsukayama, Mark Berman and Jerry Markon, June 12, 2016. A gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State opened fire inside a crowded gay bar and dance club here early Sunday, leaving 50 people dead and 53 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, authorities said. President Obama labeled the rampage “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

The gunman fired bullets seemingly at random inside the popular Pulse nightclub, forcing panicked patrons to dive onto the dance floor, crawl across the ground and scramble out a back entrance. He then held others hostage in a three-hour siege that ended when police stormed the building and killed him. Witnesses described scenes of horrific carnage. Victims flooded local hospitals with gunshot wounds to their chests, legs and arms. Some had their calves and forearms blown off, doctors said. Police said the toll could have been even greater had a SWAT team not rescued 30 people and shepherded them to safety. Many of the victims were Latino; the club was celebrating “Latin Night.”

The gunman was identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard who was born in New York to Afghan parents. After his initial assault on the dance club, Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, according to U.S. law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the FBI investigation is unfolding. During the call, Mateen made reference to the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, officials said.

Many questions remained unanswered. It was unclear, for example, how a lone gunman managed to hold so many people inside the nightclub for so long, whether any of the clubgoers tried to stop him and why police waited three hours to intervene.

The Hill, Administration nixed probe into Southern California jihadists, Philip Haney, Dec. 16, 2015. There are terrorists in our midst and they arrived here using legal means right under the noses of the federal law enforcement agencies whose mission is to stop them. That is not due to malfeasance or lack of effort on the part of these officers; it is due to the restrictions placed on them by the Obama administration.

Philip HaneyI was a firsthand witness to how these policies deliberately prevented scrutiny of Islamist groups. The two San Bernardino jihadists, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, may have benefited from the administration’s closure of an investigation I initiated on numerous groups infiltrating radicalized individuals into this country.

While working for the Department of Homeland Security for 13 years, I identified individuals affiliated with large, but less well-known groups such as Tablighi Jamaat and the larger Deobandi movement freely transiting the United States. At the National Targeting Center, one of the premier organizations formed to “connect the dots,” I played a major role in an investigation into this trans-national Islamist network. We created records of individuals, mosques, Islamic Centers and schools across the United States that were involved in this radicalization effort. The Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque in San Bernardino was affiliated with this network and we had identified a member of it in our investigation.  Farook frequented that mosque and was well-known to the congregation and mosque leadership.

Another focus of my investigation was the Pakistani women’s Islamist group al-Huda, which counted Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, as a student. While the al-Huda International Welfare Foundation distanced themselves from the actions of their former pupil, Malik’s classmates told the Daily Mail she changed significantly while studying at al-Huda, gradually becoming “more serious and strict.” More ominously, the group’s presence in the U.S. and Canada is not without its other ties to ISIS and terrorism. In 2014, three recent former students at al-Huda’s affiliate school in Canada, aged 15 to 18, left their homes to join the Islamic State in Syria.

We had these two groups in our sights; if the investigation had continued and additional links been identified and dots connected, we might have given advance warning of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino. The combination of Farook’s involvement with the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque and Malik’s attendance at al-Huda would have indicated, at minimum, an urgent need for comprehensive screening. It could also have led to denial of Malik’s K-1 visa or possibly gotten Farook placed on the No Fly list.

But after more than six months of research and tracking; over 1,200 law enforcement actions and more than 300 terrorists identified; and a commendation for our efforts; DHS shut down the investigation at the request of the Department of State and DHS’ own Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Division. They claimed that since the Islamist groups in question were not Specially Designated Terrorist Organizations (SDTOs) tracking individuals related to these groups was a violation of the travelers’ civil liberties. These were almost exclusively foreign nationals: When were they granted the civil rights and liberties of American citizens?

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