/ March 14, 2021
By Bill Juneau
FBI Director Christopher Wray is dancing around questions concerning the part his agency played in warning Congress and the Capitol police about potential violence planned for last Jan. 6. Cutting through his comments about "domestic terrorism" and who is to blame, it appears he fumbled the ball big time, and that seems to be his feckless way of running the agency.
His failure to warn of potential mob violence in the Capitol was a repeat of the mishandling of information which the FBI had in its lap regarding a threatened school shooting in Parkland Florida in February, 2018. In that shooting, sixteen high school students and one faculty member were gunned down, and about a score more were wounded in the hallways of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school by a disturbed former student whose name was in the waste basket at FBI headquarters. That massacre could have and should have been prevented.
In fact, so outrageous was the Parkland negligence by the FBI with Wray in command, that Florida Gov. Rick Scott, now Senator Scott, called for Wray's immediate dismissal for incompetence.
In the Parkland massacre, the FBI had information containing the name of the shooter, his address and were in touch with a student who knew the shooter, and feared that he would carry out his plan of gunning down students. "Nicholas Cruz" even identified himself in his postings with his plans to shoot up a school. The FBI was given information on "Nicholas Cruz" and his plans to kill, on Sept. 25, 2017, and again in January 2018. The school shooting occurred on Feb. 14, 2018, Valentine's Day, and, yes, Nicholas Cruz was the assassin.
Wray, 54, was appointed FBI chief by President Trump in August, 2017. He had been recommended for the job by former New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christi. Wray was Christi's personal attorney and had defended the governor in the so-called "Bridgegate" controversy against accusations that the governor had been complicit in arranging a traffic jam-up designed as a political maneuver to hurt a critic and an opponent.
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has recently opened an investigation into the Jan. 6 "insurrection" in the Capitol and wants to find out how and why it came about, and what the FBI, Capitol police and security officers knew in advance. Wray was a key witness.
In his prepared statement, Wray spoke of "domestic terrorism" as the root cause of the insurrection. Though no guns were found, he said, nearly 300 persons, mostly "white supremacists" were arrested and 17 were linked to the right wing Proud Boys and are facing prosecution. Wray's comments were in welcomed consistency with Democrats on the committee charging that left wing Antifa radicals were not members of the mob, and that former President Trump had lied about that.
When senators got around to questioning Wray about what the FBI knew prior to the attack and what it did about it, the well coiffed Wray began to squirm in his chair.
Questions led to revelations about a document known as the Norfolk S.I.R. (Situational Information Report) which had been prepared by the Norfolk, Virginia arm of the FBI. The report was a bombshell and warned that violence was expected on Jan. 6.
The report arrived at the FBI headquarters on Jan. 5. "I didn't see that report which was raw, unverified information until some number of days after the 6th," Wray told Senator Diane Feinstein in response to a question. But he said, the "unverified information was passed within I think 40 minutes to an hour to our partners — the Capitol police and the Metro Police."
In the S.I.R., Norfolk investigators revealed the content of an on line "thread" calling for violence. It read: "Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Antifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. Nothing else will achieve this goal.”
Senators were nonplussed at Wray's thin explanation. He was director, he said, but never saw the document; yet it was sent over to Capitol police within 40 minutes. The FBI made no calls to congressmen, or other officials who were engaged in preparing for the peaceful transition of leadership from the Trump administration to the new Biden administration.
"I understand your response," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. "What I don't understand is why this chatter and raw intelligence didn't prompt a stronger warning, an alarm, going to the very top of the United States Congress because clearly the U.S. Congress was under severe threat."
In the Parkland, Florida debacle where children were slaughtered in the corridors of the upscale South Florida High school, FBI agents were alerted on Sept. 25, 2017 and again on the following Jan. 5 of a "Nicholas Cruz" who had posted on the social media pages that " I am going to be a professional school shooter." A youth who knew Cruz, gave Cruz' name and address to the FBI, and said Cruz stockpiled weapons, hurt animals and was dangerous. The tipster also identified himself to agents.
On Valentine's Day, 2018, Cruz burst into the school from where he had been expelled and began firing and his former classmates began falling. He left minutes later, had a hamburger at a fast food restaurant, and shortly thereafter was identified as the shooter and arrested.
After the shootings and the incredible negligence of the FBI was exposed, public apologies came from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and from Wray. The Deputy Director provided the following terse and formal response on behalf of the world famous police agency:
"Under established protocols, the information provided by the callers should have been assessed as a potential threat to life...and the tip should have been forwarded to the Miami field office. We clearly should have done more."
Many lawsuits were filed against the FBI for its unquestionable negligence, and a judge has ruled that the FBI lacks immunity for its conduct.
Aside from the agency's negligent behavior in Florida, and its failure to adequately warn of the potential violence set for Jan. 6th in the Capitol, Wray has been a disappointment for concealing the fact for more than a year that the agency had possession of a Hunter Biden computer with emails suggesting corruption by Hunter and members of his family, including the President.
He remained silent while President Trump was going through an impeachment and called a liar for suggesting that the Biden family needed to explain the billion dollar deals which Hunter had negotiated with China and other countries.
Bill Juneau worked for 25 years as a reporter and night city editor at the Chicago Tribune. Subsequently he became a partner in a law firm and also served as a village prosecutor and as a consultant to the Cook County Circuit Court and to the Cook County Medical Examiner. He is currently writing columns and the 'Florida Bill' blog.
Free Press International