Who Is to Blame for the Latest Terror Attack?

Once again Americans face the horrific tragedy of a terrorist attack: this past weekend, at least fifty died, with over forty wounded.  American Thinker interviewed some retired FBI agents and police commissioners to understand why it happened, if it could have been prevented, and what to do going forward. 


Both presidential candidates spoke about the incident, with Donald Trump being criticized for calling Hillary Clinton ignorant.  Yet look at her actions moments before her speech.  It was as if she were campaigning, with smiles, not a solemn face.  Was that because she is glad that the FBI focus is taken off her?

Many feel that the FBI has a blackened eye and dropped the ball.  William Gavin, former assistant director of the N.Y. Office, says the blame is “ridiculous.  There is no crystal ball in law enforcement.  We cannot see what a suspect is thinking.  The dots were not there to connect.  We did not have the information, so we could not pin the tail on the donkey.”

Former New York FBI agent Craig Dotlo also believes that the criticism is unfounded.  Yes, the FBI investigated the terrorist twice, but they had their hands tied by the guidelines imposed on them by the Department of Justice, President Obama, and Congress since the 1970s.  Moreover, throughout the years, these guidelines have been made stricter. 

Dotlo told American Thinker, “The U.S. Congress, President Obama, and the DOJ does not want the FBI conducting an investigation on any Americans unless it can be established there is reasonable suspicion the person considered for investigation has committed unlawful criminal activity.  If that benchmark cannot be established the case must be closed.  Congress is great in passing these policies, but when things go wrong, they deflect the blame away from themselves and put it on others.  If you want the FBI to be more aggressive on these matters, talk to your members of Congress.”

It is interesting how Americans are told that if they see something, they should say something.  The terrorist’s co-workers did just that, but nothing came of it, even though the culprit admitted to being in contact with a terrorist and having a father sympathetic to the Taliban.  Dotlo explained, “None of that counts.  Where is the crime?  There is no crime.  I do think the agents would like to go farther, but they are not allowed, because the leaders in Washington have restricted what they can do.”

Steven Rogers, the Nutley, New Jersey police commissioner who also worked on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, says the answer is simple.  “We have become a country more sensitive to our enemies than our own people.  We worry about collateral damage when we bomb in Syria, but our enemies do not worry about it.  They just go out and kill us.  There is too much political correctness, where we treat terrorist attacks as workplace violence or a crime.  President Obama does not even say who the enemies are: radical Islamists.”

Everyone interviewed agrees, and points out that this is a military problem, not a law enforcement problem.  Dotlo believes that “ISIS basically operates with impunity, having strategy board meetings to recruit and train.  They have become very sophisticated, using social media to radicalize and encryption devices so the FBI cannot intercept these communications.  The way to stop terrorism at home is to stop it at its source.”

Since 9/11, the Bush administration had no terrorist attacks on American soil, while the Obama administration has had at least five: the Boston Marathon, Orlando, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and the woman beheaded in Oklahoma.  Is there cause and effect?  Yes, says Dotlo, because “the FBI agents do not live in a vacuum.  They know the president is very sensitive about conducting investigations on Muslims unless specific facts show criminal activity.  There is the fear someone will complain to some Muslim group, who will complain to the president or someone in his staff, and they will get in trouble.”

He further stated, “The tone is set from the top.  For example, look what happened with that child in Texas.  He brought to school what the teacher thought was a bomb.  Yet the president made this child a hero, undermining what the school and law enforcement did.  Could you imagine what would happen to an agent who could not back up his actions?  If an agent went overboard, they would get hammered, or worse, DOJ would institute a civil rights violation against them, as they have with 21 police departments across the country.  The current philosophy of the administration: they do not want Muslims investigated unless there is clear information or evidence indicative of criminal activity.”

Dotlo is upset with the criticism that the FBI has a “hands off policy” with local law enforcement, because “it is totally without merit.  The JTTF was established for these purposes.  Police and the FBI work together and share information regarding terrorist investigations.  The Boston police chief claimed the FBI did not disseminate information.  But they were a part of the task force.  The FBI did not defend themselves because of the damage it might have caused.”

Those in the FBI defend the position that their databases not be shared with all local law enforcement, pointing out that anyone on the JTTF has to undergo rigorous background checks.  The reason is that there is a lot of sensitive information, including intelligence from U.S. allies, with confidentiality necessary. 

Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner, argues that there is a need for better communication between law enforcement on the federal, state, and local levels outside the JTTF.  “Local police involvement is necessary.  They can see where that guy is coming and going.  The FBI should make sure that local law enforcement is aware of a possible suspect or sympathizer.  There should be a database that has a list of names who the FBI talked with.  This will help the FBI, who is short-staffed, overworked, and has financial restraints.

“Think about this scenario: someone walking has a bulge under his jacket.  Local police stop and speak with him, but after running that guy’s name, nothing comes up, and they are unaware that the FBI spoke with him twice.  Local police are the best defense against terrorism at home.  They can be trained on what to do and how to analyze information.”

Do those interviewed agree with Clinton and President Obama, who are changing the narrative from terrorism to gun control?  Gavin says, “People blame the guns, but they should blame the hands that carry the guns.  The weapon just lies there, doesn’t shoot on its own; yet, in the hands of an evil person, it can do tremendous damage.  It is just a lazy, cold piece of steel and is not robotic.  Automobiles kill more people, so should we ban cars?

“They are just trying to deflect the situation.  If you take guns away, the terrorists will find something else, like a bomb.  Besides, most of the bad guys that have guns get them illegally.  You can buy a gun on the street any time you want.  This guy was able to get a gun without a red flag because he violated no rule.”

Rogers does not care about terrorists’ rights.  He argues for suspected terrorists to be fingerprinted even if there is no crime committed, something not possible today.  In that way, someone going to buy a gun would have been red-flagged.  He noted, “The left argues the rights of these people are violated yet ignore how Americans rights will be violated with gun control.  Americans should exercise their voting rights to change the rules of engagement and make it easier for law enforcement.”

Lone wolf terrorists and soft targets allow terrorism to flourish.  The Obama administration should look in the mirror and actually create a strategy that will deal with the source in the Middle East.  Instead of getting angry with Donald Trump, the president should better react to the terrorist threat.

Americans going to theaters, to shopping centers, and out to eat are sitting ducks.  If the president does not change the rules of engagement abroad and here at home, he will create a nation of hermits who will do everything at home, something made easy because of the internet.  The blame should be placed in the lap of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, not the FBI and local law enforcement.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments