The FBI’s Long List of Failures

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The FBI's Long List of Failures

The FBI has a long his­tory of errors, mis­cal­cu­la­tions, and out­right fail­ures that make the cur­rent alle­ga­tions almost pale by comparison.

As a young jour­nal­ist, I trekked back and forth through the FBI “cor­don” around Wounded Knee in 1973, where Native Amer­i­can activists had taken over the site in South Dakota of a famous mas­sacre of Indi­ans by fed­eral troops

DaTech3.jpgA few years later, I wrote about the vir­tual exe­cu­tion of Fred Hamp­ton and Mark Clark, two Black Pan­ther lead­ers in Chicago. The duo had been a tar­get of the FBI failed counter-​intelligence pro­gram of rad­i­cals in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Counter Intel­li­gence Pro­gram, known as COIN­TEL­PRO, was a series of covert and at times ille­gal, projects con­ducted by FBI and aimed at domes­tic polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions. The pro­gram, ini­ti­ated by Direc­tor J. Edgar Hoover, attacked anti-​Vietnam orga­niz­ers, activists of the Civil Rights move­ment or the Black Power move­ment, fem­i­nist orga­ni­za­tions, and oth­ers. The pro­gram was respon­si­ble for the famous record­ings of Mar­tin Luther King’s pri­vate life.

The mur­ders of Hamp­ton, the deputy chair­man of the party, and Clark occurred in a shootout with Chicago police and the FBI. The house where the Black Pan­thers were stay­ing had nearly 100 rounds of incom­ing bul­lets and only one out­go­ing. Although the City of Chicago coro­ners ruled the action as jus­ti­fi­able, a court ordered the gov­ern­ment to pay nearly $2 mil­lion to the families.

But there’s far more than my per­sonal expe­ri­ence with the bureau.

Ruby Ridge, near my birth­place of Boise, Idaho, ended with the death of the son and wife of Randy Weaver and an even­tual big cash set­tle­ment. The siege started over Weaver’s fail­ure to appear for a firearms charge in 1992.

More impor­tant, the rise of the mili­tia move­ment hap­pened as a direct result of the con­fronta­tion. The inci­dent was so poorly han­dled that the FBI agent-​in-​charge was sen­tenced to 18 months in prison for obstruct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into the FBI’s incompetence.

The 51-​day con­fronta­tion with the Branch David­i­ans ended with 76 peo­ple dead in 1993 in Texas in an ill-​conceived assault that led to a mas­sive fire. Again, the inci­dent added fuel to the mili­tia fire.

The FBI and other law enforce­ment offi­cials failed to under­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of Ruby Ridge and Waco to a grow­ing mili­tia move­ment, which ulti­mately led to the Okla­homa City bomb­ing in 1995. So much so that the FBI ini­tially thought Okla­homa City was car­ried out by Mid­dle East­ern terrorists.

I’m not say­ing that domes­tic sur­veil­lance was inap­pro­pri­ate, but the ille­gal­ity of some of the FBI’s actions was exten­sive. Also, I am not say­ing Hamp­ton, Clark, Weaver, and oth­ers were choir boys. But the use of force was more than excessive.

The FBI had some suc­cess in the 1980s and 1990s in bring­ing down the Ital­ian Mafia, although it took four tri­als to send John Gotti, the leader of the Mob in New York, to jail. More­over, a vari­ety of other eth­nic groups filled the vacuum.

In the buildup to 9/​11, the FBI, like many other agen­cies, failed on numer­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties to foil the attack.

Although the CIA may have been pri­mar­ily respon­si­ble for the fail­ure to real­ize the dead­li­ness of the blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-​Rahman, the FBI didn’t ade­quate inves­ti­gate his New Jer­sey mosque, which pro­vided the foot sol­diers for the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center.

I crossed paths with him dur­ing the upris­ing in Egypt that even­tu­ally led to the assas­si­na­tion of Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Anwar Sadat in 1981. Every­one in Egypt knew he was a dan­ger­ous man and ter­ror­ist agitator.

Nev­er­the­less, Abdel-​Rahman was issued a tourist visa to visit the United States by the the U. S. embassy in Sudan despite his name being on a ter­ror­ist watch list. He even obtained a green card. He ulti­mately was con­victed of con­spir­acy for his involve­ment in sev­eral ter­ror­ist attacks and died in prison.

Fur­ther­more, the FBI failed to rec­og­nize the analy­sis put for­ward by John O’Neill, who con­sis­tently pressed for more coop­er­a­tion between agen­cies in fight­ing al-​Qaeda. He was passed over for pro­mo­tion and even­tu­ally took a job as head of secu­rity for the World Trade Cen­ter, where he died dur­ing the 2001 attack.

His story is told in The Loom­ing Tower, a bril­liant book about the fail­ures of 9/​11, and the sub­ject of a recent tele­vi­sion series.

Although there are many ded­i­cated FBI per­son­nel, the agency has not been a shin­ing exam­ple of excel­lence. That’s why it’s not that sur­pris­ing the FBI is fac­ing yet another round of inves­ti­ga­tion into errors of judgment.

Here are a few other mis­takes: https://​www​.ranker​.com/​l​i​s​t​/​t​o​p​-​10​-​g​r​e​a​t​e​s​t​-​f​b​i​-​f​a​i​l​s​-​o​f​-​a​l​l​-​t​i​m​e​/​a​u​t​u​m​n​-​s​pragg

The FBI has a long history of errors, miscalculations, and outright failures that make the current allegations almost pale by comparison.

As a young journalist, I trekked back and forth through the FBI “cordon” around Wounded Knee in 1973, where Native American activists had taken over the site in South Dakota of a famous massacre of Indians by federal troops

DaTech3.jpgA few years later, I wrote about the virtual execution of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two Black Panther leaders in Chicago. The duo had been a target of the FBI failed counter-intelligence program of radicals in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Counter Intelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO, was a series of covert and at times illegal, projects conducted by FBI and aimed at domestic political organizations. The program, initiated by Director J. Edgar Hoover, attacked anti-Vietnam organizers, activists of the Civil Rights movement or the Black Power movement, feminist organizations, and others. The program was responsible for the famous recordings of Martin Luther King’s private life.

The murders of Hampton, the deputy chairman of the party, and Clark occurred in a shootout with Chicago police and the FBI. The house where the Black Panthers were staying had nearly 100 rounds of incoming bullets and only one outgoing. Although the City of Chicago coroners ruled the action as justifiable, a court ordered the government to pay nearly $2 million to the families.

But there’s far more than my personal experience with the bureau.

Ruby Ridge, near my birthplace of Boise, Idaho, ended with the death of the son and wife of Randy Weaver and an eventual big cash settlement. The siege started over Weaver’s failure to appear for a firearms charge in 1992.

More important, the rise of the militia movement happened as a direct result of the confrontation. The incident was so poorly handled that the FBI agent-in-charge was sentenced to 18 months in prison for obstructing an investigation into the FBI’s incompetence.

The 51-day confrontation with the Branch Davidians ended with 76 people dead in 1993 in Texas in an ill-conceived assault that led to a massive fire. Again, the incident added fuel to the militia fire.

The FBI and other law enforcement officials failed to understand the significance of Ruby Ridge and Waco to a growing militia movement, which ultimately led to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. So much so that the FBI initially thought Oklahoma City was carried out by Middle Eastern terrorists.

I’m not saying that domestic surveillance was inappropriate, but the illegality of some of the FBI’s actions was extensive. Also, I am not saying Hampton, Clark, Weaver, and others were choir boys. But the use of force was more than excessive.

The FBI had some success in the 1980s and 1990s in bringing down the Italian Mafia, although it took four trials to send John Gotti, the leader of the Mob in New York, to jail. Moreover, a variety of other ethnic groups filled the vacuum.

In the buildup to 9/11, the FBI, like many other agencies, failed on numerous opportunities to foil the attack.

Although the CIA may have been primarily responsible for the failure to realize the deadliness of the blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, the FBI didn’t adequate investigate his New Jersey mosque, which provided the foot soldiers for the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center.

I crossed paths with him during the uprising in Egypt that eventually led to the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Everyone in Egypt knew he was a dangerous man and terrorist agitator.

Nevertheless, Abdel-Rahman was issued a tourist visa to visit the United States by the the U. S. embassy in Sudan despite his name being on a terrorist watch list. He even obtained a green card. He ultimately was convicted of conspiracy for his involvement in several terrorist attacks and died in prison.

Furthermore, the FBI failed to recognize the analysis put forward by John O’Neill, who consistently pressed for more cooperation between agencies in fighting al-Qaeda. He was passed over for promotion and eventually took a job as head of security for the World Trade Center, where he died during the 2001 attack.

His story is told in The Looming Tower, a brilliant book about the failures of 9/11, and the subject of a recent television series.

Although there are many dedicated FBI personnel, the agency has not been a shining example of excellence. That’s why it’s not that surprising the FBI is facing yet another round of investigation into errors of judgment.

Here are a few other mistakes: https://www.ranker.com/list/top-10-greatest-fbi-fails-of-all-time/autumn-spragg