Connecting the dots: How an FBI analyst turned state senator sees the Orlando mass shooting

06/14/2016 09:06 PM

FRANKFORT — The Federal Bureau of Investigations knew of the Orlando homegrown extremist who killed 49 people, and wounded 53 others well before Sunday’s mass shooting.

FBI Director James Comey told reporters on Monday that the gunman who went on a shooting rampage at a popular gay nightclub in Orlando had previously been on a terrorist watchlist from 2013 to 2014, but the agency was not able to collect enough evidence to charge him.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, a national security expert and former FBI analyst, told Pure Politics that the agency is now reworking their information and trying to fill in the gaps of the “flash-bang period.”

“The flash is when somebody says an alert about somebody,” Wise said during an interview in his Capitol Annex office. “The bang is what we recently saw just happened. We’ve got a gap there, so the question becomes what’s in that timeline of that individual?”

When the FBI began investigating the shooter, Wise said the agency was conducting a preliminary investigation, but did not make it to a full-field investigation.

The attack highlights the difficulty American law enforcement agencies have had in trying to combat domestic terrorism. Part of the issue, Wise said, is the “bureaucracy of the federal government and also the FBI.”

“You’ve got timeline constraints,” he said. “You’ve got oversights there, and then you’ve kind of got the mother ship, which is FBI headquarters, and you’ve got everybody breathing down your throat because after 9/11 you don’t want to leave anything unturned. You’ve got Congress wanting oversight of these different types of things.

“Also remember this — you’re running these types of cases all over the place,” Wise continued. “Since 9/11 we’ve had 330 American-born citizens who have been indicted or prosecuted on terrorism charges, so these are happening in every field office across the United States.”

Part of the problem for the agency is how to prioritize cases, he said, adding that the FBI may need more manpower to keep Americans safe.


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