President Joe Biden tweeted yesterday on what he called “Pulse Remembrance Day”:
Seven years ago today, our nation suffered what was then the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Forty-nine people, predominantly Latino LGBTQI+ people, lost their lives in a senseless act of gun violence.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando while police loitered for hours outside. Politicians have been exploiting the killings ever since. And no amount of hard facts or a damning jury verdict have been able to curb political demagoguery.
Biden touted the anniversary of the killing but omitted mentioning how FBI misconduct and deceit caused the subsequent federal court case to collapse.
Noor Salman, the widow of Omar Mateen, 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.
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 eleven months prior to President Donald Trump’s firing him in May 2017. Comey fastidiously avoided overturning any stones exposing the FBI’s role in the calamity. Comey complained of the difficulty of investigating lone wolf terrorists like Mateen, “We are looking for needles in a nationwide haystack.” Comey also declared on Mateen, “There is confusion about his motives.”
But any confusion was solely the result of FBI deceit. During his night-long rampage, Mateen made several phone calls to 911 and talked at length to police negotiators. The FBI redacted the transcript of those calls to expunge Mateen’s motivation. He pledged allegiance to the Islamic State—radicals who were on a beheading spree in the Mideast—and expressed solidarity with Muslim terrorists that had attacked in the U.S. and abroad. He proclaimed, “You have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They’re killing a lot of innocent people. So what am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there?” Republican leaders condemned the Obama administration for seeking to “downplay the shooting’s connection to radical extremism.”
Rather than admitting that Mateen’s rage was sparked by U.S. government killings of Muslims abroad, the FBI and Obama administration fabricated a storyline about anti-gay bias. The Pulse Nightclub was a hotspot for Hispanic gays and lesbians in the Orlando area. Attorney General Loretta Lynch declared, “This was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate.” President Barack Obama visited Orlando, praised the nightclub as a place where people could “be who you truly are,” and declared, “Hatred toward people because of sexual orientation, regardless of where it comes from, is a betrayal of what’s best in us.” But Mateen was unaware that it was a gay nightclub. Instead, he chose it because of proximity after his efforts to launch a mass killing at a nearby shopping and entertainment complex were doomed by heavy security. The notion that it was an anti-gay crime was refuted a month after the shootings in a Washington Post piece headlined, “FBI has found no evidence that Orlando shooter targeted Pulse because it was a gay club.” That conclusion was confirmed at the 2018 trial where it was revealed that he had simply googled “Orlando nightclubs” to pick his target. But those facts have done nothing to prevent the creation of a myth.
Immediately after the killings, the FBI began working to prevent Americans from learning of their connections to the carnage. 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 eleven 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 lied to 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 was 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 control legislation. (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. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) 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 followed 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?
Biden’s tweet yesterday concluded: “It’s time for Congress to make commonsense reforms to keep our communities safe. Americans deserve nothing less.” No matter how badly law enforcement responds to an attack, collective guilt rests on any private citizen who owns a gun. Remember that Biden’s “solution” to crime is to ban semi-automatic firearms. But rounding up 50+ million guns and rifles could cause more problems than a hundred Wacos.