Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Trump Weekend Tweetstorm Responds to Mueller Indictment

February 18, 2018

Tweets minimize the effects of Russian actions on the election and deny his campaign colluded

President Donald Trump’s volley of a dozen Russia-related tweets Saturday and Sunday came after Mr. Mueller’s blockbuster indictment Friday.
President Donald Trump’s volley of a dozen Russia-related tweets Saturday and Sunday came after Mr. Mueller’s blockbuster indictment Friday. PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump used Twitter over the weekend to respond to the latest moves by special counsel Robert Mueller, repeating that his campaign didn’t collude with Russia. He also played down the impact that Russian actions had on the election.

Mr. Trump’s volley of a dozen Russia-related tweets Saturday and Sunday came after Mr. Mueller’s blockbuster indictment Friday of three Russian companies and 13 Russian nationals for engaging in a widespread effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Russia’s concentrated social media effort attacked Democrat Hillary Clinton, promoted Mr. Trump, and aimed to sow divisions among Americans, the indictment charges.

Mr. Trump is spending the three-day weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida, not far from the school where a teenager shot and killed 17 people last week. Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump stopped to visit victims and first responders as they landed in Florida on Friday night. Mr. Trump made no public appearances Saturday or early Sunday but made calls to local officials offering the nation’s support as the community reels from the deadly assault, according to White House officials.

Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!

One of Mr. Trump’s tweets Sunday morning knit together the two major developments. “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Asked on CNN Sunday about Mr. Trump’s tweet, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich called it “an absurd statement.” Mr. Kasich, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination said “we need leadership out of the executive,” and prodded Mr. Trump to embrace some tightening of gun laws, a step that the president has so far declined to take.

In several Sunday morning tweets, Mr. Trump praised his own candidacy, saying Democrats continue to use the Russia interference plot as an “excuse” for why Mrs. Clinton lost.

Mr. Trump pointed to comments that Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, made over the weekend that former President Barack Obama should have imposed more severe penalties on North Korea for a 2014 cyberattack of Sony —inaction that, Mr. Schiff argued, encouraged Russian election interference two years later.

“I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention,” Mr. Schiff told NBC.

Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?

Mr. Trump’s take: “Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?” In a tweet moments earlier, Mr. Trump called Mr. Schiff, “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control.”

In another tweet, Mr. Trump wrote that he “never said Russia didn’t meddle in the election” only that it was a “‘hoax … that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

Asked on CNN Sunday if the intelligence he surveyed supported that claim that there was no collusion, Mr. Schiff said, “No, of course not. This is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes.”

Mr. Schiff said he did believe that the Obama administration should have done more in response to intelligence about Russian interference in the elections before 2016, but he said that “they were very wary of appearing to put their hand on the scale” of the election.

Mr. Schiff added: “None of that is an excuse for this president to sit on his hands,” rather than imposing sanctions on Russia.

While Mr. Trump wrote that he hasn’t denied Russian meddling, he hasn’t forcefully condemned Russia for what the intelligence community concluded a year ago—and the Friday indictment reiterated—was an interference campaign directed by Moscow. In July and November interviews, Mr. Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted there was no meddling. While repeating Mr. Putin’s denials, Mr. Trump did say that “something happened” and that should be investigated.

Mr. Trump also wrote Sunday on Twitter that if Russia succeeded in its efforts to disrupt U.S. politics, that is evidenced not by the 2016 election results, but by the continuing investigations into whether the Trump campaign played a role with Russia’s campaign.

If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!

“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, responded to Mr. Trump by tweeting: “A decent president would take this Sunday morning to warn our adversaries not to interfere with our elections or to remember the tragic loss of young lives in another mass shooting.”

No look, it wasn’t intended as that. Im just being objective. You made a good point but that doesn’t take away from the core of the argument (which Im not endorsing, not that my endorsements means anything anyway. Just joining the convo since I know more about it than most)

Thanks for the proof read. If only One could edit ones tweet. As to the substance: the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Trump. The point is that the misinformation campaign is ongoing and must be addressed. Today, we saw Russian pro gun tweets re: Florida shooting.

On Saturday, President Trump cited in support of his arguments weekend tweets from Facebook Inc. vice president Rob Goldman, who wrote that “swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal” of the Russian ads, and that “the majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election.” Mr. Goldman added that “we shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump (sic) and the election.”

Mr. Goldman later made another post in response to people accusing him of obscuring the intent of the Russians accused in the indictment.

“As to the substance: the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Mr. Trump,” he wrote.

In other tweets, Mr. Trump cited a recent poll showing Republicans are gaining traction on a generic party ballot ahead of the midterm elections this fall and called cable channel CNN “the Fake News of big ratings loser.” He attached a tweet with a cartoon mocking CNN’s Wolf Blitzer by a Twitter user calling himself “Ivan Trumpovic.”

In his Twitter biography, the user says he has been kicked off the site six times.

Write to Julie Bykowicz at julie.bykowicz@wsj.com and Janet Hook at janet.hook@wsj.com

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-weekend-tweetstorm-responds-to-mueller-indictment-1518967910
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Trump turns on FBI over school shooting after criticism from survivors

February 18, 2018

Police officers are seen in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as law enforcement officials continue their work investigating the 17 people who were killed at the school on Feb. 17, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz in the killing of the high school students. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images,/AFP)
FORT LAUDERDALE, United States: US President Donald Trump said Saturday the FBI was so caught up in the Russia probe that it failed to heed signs which could have prevented the Parkland school shooting.
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His comments came as he faces criticism from survivors of the attack over his ties to the powerful National Rifle Association, and after several thousand rallied in Florida to demand urgent action on gun control.
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“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” he wrote on Twitter.
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“They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!“
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US authorities have come under mounting scrutiny for failing to act on a series of warning signs ahead of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed.
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The FBI admitted Friday it received a chilling warning in January from a tipster who said the gunman Nikolas Cruz could be planning a mass shooting, but that agents failed to follow up.
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But the attack, the 18th school shooting this year alone, has also renewed calls for greater gun control with several survivors leading the charge.
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One of them, 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez delivered a fiery address to a crowd of students, parents and residents in Ft. Lauderdale.
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“To every politician taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!” she thundered, assailing Trump over the multi-million-dollar support his campaign received from the gun lobby. The crowd chanted in turn: “Shame on you!“
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“We are going to be the last mass shooting… We are going to change the law,” she vowed — slamming the fact 19-year-old Cruz was able to legally buy a semi-automatic firearm despite a history of troubling and violent behavior.
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“The question on whether or not people should be allowed to own an automatic weapon is not a political one. It is question of life or death and it needs to stop being a question of politics,” Gonzalez told AFP following her speech.
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In Washington, the political response has made clear that the powerful NRA pro-gun lobby remains formidable, while Trump himself suggested the root cause of mass shootings was a crisis of mental health — making no mention of gun control.
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“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and… how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said in her impassioned address.
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“It doesn’t matter because I already know. Thirty million,” she said, citing the sum spent by the NRA to support Trump’s election bid and defeat Hillary Clinton.
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She then ran through a list of the pro-gun lobby’s talking points — for example, that “a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun,” that no law could ever stop a madman intent on killing — answering each argument with “We call BS.”
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The young woman’s powerful address immediately went viral, with her name a top trending topic on Twitter.
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In addition to the FBI’s missteps, Cruz was also known to local police after his mother repeatedly reported him for violent outbursts, while records obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel show authorities investigated Cruz in 2016 after he cut his arms on messaging app Snapchat and threatened to buy a gun.
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The newspaper, citing Department of Children and Family Services documents, said the investigation came four days after Cruz turned 18 — legally an adult, and thus able to buy a firearm.
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Investigators said there were “some implications” for the teen’s safety, but concluded that his “final level of risk is low as (he) resides with his mother, attends school and receives counseling” as an outpatient at a mental health center, the Sun Sentinel said.
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Cruz later passed a background check, allowing him in February 2017 to buy the AR-15 rifle used in the massacre.
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Trump spoke by phone Saturday with the Parkland mayor, the county commissioner and the principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to express his condolences and offer his support.
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He then pivoted to politics late Saturday with his allegations against the FBI — though the federal government’s investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and collusion with the Trump campaign has been led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller since last May.
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There was no immediate response from the FBI to Trump’s latest allegation.
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Mueller’s investigation has so far swept up four members of Trump’s campaign, with two agreeing to work for the probe under a plea deal.
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On Thursday Mueller indicted 13 Russians for allegedly running a secret campaign to tilt the vote, but did not accuse any Americans of knowingly participating in that effort.

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Trump Rebukes McMaster for Not Defending 2016 Election Result

February 18, 2018

Bloomberg

By Joshua Gallu

  • National security adviser spoke about meddling on Saturday
  • President made several tweets saying Russia didn’t impact vote
H.R. McMaster

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump rebuked his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, on Saturday, saying in a tweet that his aide had neglected to defend his 2016 victory when discussing U.S. claims that Russia meddled in the election.

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems,” Trump tweeted, using a derogatory epithet for Hillary Clinton.

McMaster on Saturday told an audience at the Munich Security Conference that Russia engaged in a “sophisticated form of espionage” against the U.S. in a futile attempt at disruption. He referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s charges this week against 13 Russian nationals and a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm,” accused of seeking to interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

“The evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain, whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute,” McMaster said on a panel Saturday. Russian attempts to influence politics in the U.S. and elsewhere are “just not working,” McMaster said.

Earlier Saturday, Trump referenced posts by Rob Goldman, Facebook vice president of ad sales, that said the goal of the sophisticated Russian influence operation was to divide Americans and sow fear and hatred. Facebook verified the authenticity of Goldman’s posts.

Among the evidence Goldman pointed to in a series of posts was that 56 percent of the Facebook ads bought by the indicted Russians were displayed after the Nov. 8 election, while users still considering who to vote for would have seen only about 44 percent.

In a follow-up tweet, Goldman attempted to soften his earlier comments by saying that “the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Trump. The point is that the misinformation campaign is ongoing and must be addressed.”

Trump also suggested that the FBI overlooked a warning about the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people because the bureau was too busy investigating him.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud,” Trump tweeted.

— With assistance by Shannon Pettypiece, and Patrick Donahue

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-18/trump-rebukes-mcmaster-for-not-defending-2016-election-result

Neighbor’s 911 Call: Another Unheeded Tip in Florida School Shooting

February 18, 2018

More information about Nikolas Cruz’s background and potential red flags emerge

Students mourn those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Saturday in Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla.
Students mourn those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Saturday in Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla. PHOTO: ORIT BEN-EZZER/ZUMA PRESS

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—A former neighbor of Nikolas Cruz said she called 911 two years ago because the teen said, in a social-media post, that he looked forward to buying a gun when he turned 18 so he could shoot up his school.

“I was pleading with the police [officer]. I said, ‘Please, is there anything you can do?’” Joelle Guarino said Saturday. “He said basically no, when you’re 18 you have a right to bear arms, and there was pretty much nothing he could do.”

Mr. Cruz bought a semiautomatic rifle legally about a year ago. He admits to using the weapon in Wednesday’s shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people.

A spokeswoman for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said she didn’t know all the details about the February 2016 call to 911 but said there was no probable cause to arrest Mr. Cruz.

“Officers cannot arrest an individual before an illegal act occurs, simply due to disturbing behavior or fears. Especially in this case where family advised he was already receiving mental-health treatment,” spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said.

Sheriff Scott Israel and his staff are meeting with lawmakers to suggest ways to expand the tools available to law-enforcement agencies to prevent future attacks, Ms. Coleman-Wright said Saturday. The agency is also reviewing the handling of all calls it received about Mr. Cruz, she said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday it didn’t follow up on a January tip from a person close to Mr. Cruz about his erratic behavior, as well as “the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

Mr. Cruz is willing to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty and to spare the community a painful trial, his public defender said Saturday. The 19-year-old faces 17 charges of premeditated murder for the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

More information about Mr. Cruz’s background and potential red flags emerged as the South Florida community mourned at vigils and funerals.

The Florida Department of Children and Families said in a court filing that it had done an investigation involving Mr. Cruz.

“I felt frustrated and angry when I heard” about the FBI’s statement, Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said Saturday. “It’s a very close-knit city. I think it would be impossible to find anyone who hasn’t been somewhat affected by this.”

The school district has already proposed demolishing the building where the gunman opened fire, the mayor said in an interview. The superintendent wants to tear down the structure and replace it with a new one and a memorial, she said.

“It’s tragic enough what these students witnessed. They shouldn’t have to go back into that building,” Ms. Hunschofsky said.

How the Florida School Shooting Unfolded
Nikolas Cruz has admitted to being the gunman in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left at least 17 students dead, according to court records. We look back over the events that unfolded during the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012. Photo: Zuma Press

Lawyers for Mr. Cruz will propose that prosecutors take the death penalty off the table in return for a guilty plea, said Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.

“Everybody knows what happened,” Mr. Finkelstein said in an interview. “He should be put in prison for the rest of his life, but we can begin the healing process by putting this behind us.”

Mr. Finkelstein said his office hasn’t formally made the offer but plans to meet with Broward State Attorney Michael Satz in the coming days.

He described Mr. Cruz as a “kid who fell off the grid” despite many warning signals. “If this kid didn’t pop out, then nobody will ever pop out,” Mr. Finkelstein said.

President Donald Trump spoke by phone Saturday with the mayor of Parkland, the principal of the school and other local officials, according to the White House. In the calls, Mr. Trump expressed condolences and offered the support of the nation.

He is spending the three-day weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, not far from the scene. On Friday, he and first lady Melania Trump visited survivors and first responders.

Since the shooting, neighbors and classmates have recounted alarming behavior by Mr. Cruz, such as obsessing over weapons, shooting small animals with a pellet gun and harassing neighbors’ pets.

Ms. Guarino said her son Zachary, now 18, showed her the post from Mr. Cruz that prompted her to call police two years ago. The post included a photo of a rifle similar to the one used in Wednesday’s shooting, she said.

After she called police, an officer visited her home, Ms. Guarino said. He then went to the Cruz residence, she said, and returned saying Mr. Cruz had denied posting the message and that his mother, Lynda Cruz, had vouched for her son.

The officer told Ms. Guarino he was hampered because there was no record of the post, she said. Ms. Guarino said Mr. Cruz used Snapchat, a social-media platform in which messages vanish after a period, and she didn’t get a photo of the post before it disappeared.

Two detectives visited Ms. Guarino on Saturday and took a sworn statement from her, she said.

“I am sick over it, I really am. I’m going through a lot of guilt,” Ms. Guarino said. After Mr. Cruz had turned 18 and she knew he had gotten a gun, “I didn’t do anything,” she said. “I had so much to tell anybody that would listen.”

Mr. Cruz bought a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 about a year ago from a gun shop, according to the store’s lawyers. He passed a background check, the lawyers said.

Mr. Cruz had also come into contact with the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to a Friday court filing in which the agency petitioned  the court for approval to release confidential records pertaining to “an investigation involving Nikolas Cruz.”

“Disclosure of these records is necessary to assure the public that the department had adequately performed its duty of providing Florida’s vulnerable adults” with protection, the filing said. In a statement Saturday evening, Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Mental health services and supports were in place when this investigation closed.”

According to local media reports, the agency looked at Mr. Cruz after he posted a video on Snapchat of him cutting himself and saying he wanted to buy a gun.

Write to Scott Calvert at scott.calvert@wsj.com, Jennifer Levitz at jennifer.levitz@wsj.com and Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-neighbors-911-call-another-unheeded-tip-in-florida-school-shooting-1518910309

Trump: FBI too busy with Russia probe to prevent Florida shooting — “Spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

February 18, 2018

US president says it’s ‘not acceptable’ that agency failed to follow up on tip about troubled teen who murdered 17

US President Donald Trump (R) speaks with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel (L) while visiting first responders at Broward County Sheriff's Office in Pompano Beach, Florida, on February 16, 2018, three days after a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a nearby high school. ( AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)

US President Donald Trump (R) speaks with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel (L) while visiting first responders at Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Pompano Beach, Florida, on February 16, 2018, three days after a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a nearby high school. ( AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) — US President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI Saturday night, saying the agency “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

Trump said on Twitter: “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack. But the agency said Friday that agents failed to investigate.

The FBI’s acknowledgment that it mishandled the tip prompted a sharp rebuke from its boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a call from Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump ally, for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.

Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!

Trump and other Republicans have heavily criticized the FBI. They are still dissatisfied with its decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes related to her use of a private email server, and they see signs of bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-fbi-too-busy-with-russia-probe-to-prevent-florida-shooting/

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Technology Can Redefine the Mass-Shooter Problem

February 17, 2018

We don’t have the votes to control guns, but we have the votes to control our public spaces.

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One way to stop school shootings would be to restrict the ability of 249 million American adults to buy and own firearms, including by confiscating millions they already possess. That might work, but promoters have demonstrated with great reliability that they can’t raise the votes. They can’t get Democratic votes for such a policy, much less Republican votes.

Look closely at the lesser gun-control tweaks being proposed in the wake of Wednesday’s atrocity in Parkland, Fla. They all meet some checklist of gun-control desirables but are irrelevant to the specific problem of the carefully planned mass-casualty attack.

To some people, that doesn’t matter. The gun issue draws out us-vs.-them distinctions that are eminently exploitable for fundraising and political purposes. But what about the rest of us? When a problem seems insoluble, redefine it, enlarge it or shrink it in some way. That’s often good advice.

The American electorate may not tolerate draconian (by U.S. standards) restrictions on guns, but it will tolerate a fair amount of surveillance. License-plate readers track our travels. Cellphone towers can triangulate our location. Face recognition is increasingly deployed in conjunction with security and traffic cameras; in China, police officers have it built into their spectacles. Not to mention the stupendous amounts of personal data we willingly hand over to businesses.

Now take all the red flags raised by Nikolas Cruz : He posted on social media pictures of himself with weapons and small animals he had apparently tortured. His fascination and exhibitionism with guns was broadcast to one and all. Teachers were warned to take action if he was seen approaching the school with a backpack; he later was expelled.

Technology Can Redefine the Mass-Shooter Problem
PHOTO: ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

He was widely regarded as a menace. His mother, neighbors and school officials had repeatedly sought police intervention. He posted a YouTube comment under his own name in which he declared a desire to become a “professional school shooter,” one of two warnings passed on to the FBI.

One thing we know: If, along with these red flags, he had professed jihadist sympathies or frequented al Qaeda websites, the American people would be fine with the FBI tracking him closely. They and their courts would be fine even with undercover agents being sent to lure him into a prosecutable offense so they could arrest him.

OK, jihadist sympathies are a winnowing factor. A lot more disaffected young males are gun nuts, make threats and act weirdly than become mass shooters.

But technology potentially changes the equation in important ways. Big data may not be better than psychologists at predicting who will commit a mass shooting a year or two from now, but it can help us know who might be planning one next week: Who got kicked out of school, failed to show up for a court-assigned counseling session, made a big purchase at a gun store, posted a deranged or threatening message on social media, prompted an uptick in alarmed social-media chatter by friends and acquaintances.

Especially since the young already conduct their social existence mostly online. Information technology is taking over our lives. It will not be uninvented. In another few years, unless you cut yourself off from the network (which will arouse its own suspicions), you will be findable in seconds. A police drone overhead will be able to focus its cameras on you or the vehicle or building in which you are to be found. Indeed, London cops caused a furor by innocently posting on Twitter the visage of a TV comedian snapped by an overhead camera looking down on the masses in Leicester Square. If it can’t already, soon this technology will be able to sound an alarm if a specific person on a list approaches a school or other sensitive site.

The question of how and whether to use these capabilities for public-safety purposes is already bubbling up in a thousand contexts, without much organized consideration or debate. Would such an approach produce an unmanageable number of false positives? Let’s find out. There inevitably would be a learning curve. Let’s start climbing it.

A fact now can usefully be faced: A lot more people enjoy guns than become mass killers, but an excessive fascination with guns is a hallmark of mass killers. Let’s make use of this information. Gun stores have security cameras. If not the police, then businesses themselves will soon enough track every time you visit a gun store and which counters you linger over. It shouldn’t be a reach, with the information we potentially have in hand, to define a new category of person who most Americans would agree should be prohibited from buying guns and ammunition.

The media, with their usual depth and nuance, are trying to set up a fight between gun controllers and proponents of mental-health reform, who are naturally accused of ducking the real issue. In fact, we will need some basis in law for acting on people who set off alarm bells but haven’t done anything illegal. A new approach to mental health has to be part of the strategy.

Appeared in the February 17, 2018, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/technology-can-redefine-the-mass-shooter-problem-1518824065

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Florida Shooter Excelled at NRA-funded Rifle Training; FBI Admits Ignoring Early Tip

February 17, 2018

 

Nikolas Cruz was part of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, one of thousands of youth shooting clubs supported by pro-gun group

.Photo used as profile picture on the Instagram account of Nikolas Cruz, who was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018
Photo used as profile picture on the Instagram account of Nikolas Cruz, who was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018/AP

The troubled teen authorities say killed 17 people at a Florida high school excelled in an air-rifle marksmanship program supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation. It was part of a multi-million dollar effort by the pro-gun group to support youth shooting clubs.

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 This booking photo obtained February 15, 2018 courtesy of the Broward County Sheriff's Office shows shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.

This booking photo obtained February 15, 2018 courtesy of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shows shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.HANDOUT/AFP

Nikolas Cruz was wearing a shirt with the logo of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program when he was arrested. Former cadets told The Associated Press that Cruz was on the varsity marksmanship team that competed against other area schools.<

The cadets used air rifles special-made for target shooting. The JROTC program at Cruz’s school received $10,827 in non-cash assistance from the NRA’s foundation while he was there. NRA declined to comment. The foundation gave nearly $2.2 million to schools in 2016.

This photo posted on the Instagram account of Nikolas Cruz shows weapons lying on a bed.

This photo posted on the Instagram account of Nikolas Cruz shows weapons lying on a bed./AP

‘Desire to kill’

The FBI received a specific report last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate the tip, the agency said Friday.

Maria Reyes, Stacy Buehler and Tiffany Goldberg light candles around a cross as they attend a candlelight memorial service for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School thatJOE RAEDLE/AFP

A person who was close to Cruz called the FBI’s tip line on Jan. 5 and provided information about Cruz’s weapons and his erratic behavior, including his disturbing social media posts. The caller was concerned that Cruz could attack a school.

In a statement issued Friday, the agency acknowledged that the tip should have been shared with the FBI’s Miami office and investigated, but it was not. The startling admission came as the agency was already facing criticism for its treatment of a tip about a YouTube comment posted by a “Nikolas Cruz” last year.

The FBI investigated the comment, which said “Im going to be a professional school shooter,” but did not determine who made it.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency was still reviewing its missteps on the January tip. He said he was “committed to getting to the bottom of what happened,” as well as assessing the way the FBI responds to information from the public.

>> Dead bodies, blood and smoke’: Eyewitnesses recount carnage at Florida high school shooting <<

“We have spoken with victims and families and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy,” Wray said in the statement.

Cruz has been charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami.

Also Friday, mourners gathered for the first funeral for a shooting victim, packing the Star of David chapel to remember 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff. From outside the chapel, other mourners strained to hear the voices chanting Jewish prayers and remembering the star soccer player as having “the strongest personality.” She was also remembered as a creative writer with a memorable smile.

A day earlier, details of Wednesday’s attack began to emerge, showing how the assailant moved through the school in just minutes before escaping with the same students he had targeted.

Cruz jumped out of an Uber car and walked toward building 12 of the school, carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack. A man inside spotted Cruz and knew he was a former student, a troubled kid.

He radioed a co-worker and within a minute heard gunshots.

The 19-year-old was wearing a maroon shirt, black pants and a black hat. The man, whose name was blacked out from a sheriff’s affidavit, told detectives Cruz was moving “purposefully.”

Cruz slipped into the building, entered a stairwell and extracted a rifle from his bag, authorities said. He shot into four rooms on the first floor — going back to spray bullets into two of the rooms a second time — then went upstairs and shot a single victim on the second floor.

He ran to the third floor, where according to a timeline released by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, three minutes passed before he dropped the rifle and backpack, ran back down the stairs and quickly blended in with panicked, fleeing students.

Florida State Sen. Bill Galvano, who visited the third floor, said authorities told him it appeared that Cruz tried to fire point-blank out the third-floor windows at students as they were leaving the school, but the high-impact windows did not shatter. Police told Galvano that it was not that difficult to open the windows.

“Thank God he didn’t,” Galvano said.

From the time Cruz entered the building until the time he left, only six minutes passed. During that brief time, he shot more than two dozen people, including 17 fatally.

After the rampage, he walked to a Wal-Mart and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant, then went to a McDonald’s.

About 40 minutes later, a deputy saw him walking down a suburban South Florida street and grabbed him. He didn’t put up a fight.

Related:

Florida Governor calls on FBI director to resign over missed signs

February 17, 2018

FBI has admitted failing to investigate a tip about suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz

By Jeremy B White
The Independent

Florida’s Governor is calling on the FBI’s director to resign amid revelations the agency failed to follow up on a tip about a suspected school shooter.

“The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable”, Governor Rick Scott said in a statement.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray

“Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it,” Mr Scott aded. “An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain”.

As authorities reconstruct the events that led to the bloodletting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this week, they have discovered that the FBI had received warnings on at least two occasions about suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz.

The investigative agency acknowledged that, a little more than a month before the shooting, a person contacted the FBI tip line with “information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

In a violation of protocol, the information was never passed along to the FBI’s Miami office for followup

“I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public,” Mr Wray said in a statement about the lapse, adding “We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy”.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he is launching a view of FBI and Department of Justice practices.

“It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the FBI were missed,” Mr Sessions said in a statement. “We see the tragic consequences of these failures”.

Florida shooting: A grieving community tries to come to terms with the loss of 17 lives

The agent in charge of the Miami office has also said the agency received a tip about an online comment, posted under the name ‘nikolas cruz,’ in which the commenter said “Im going to be a professional school shooter”.

“No other information was included with that comment, which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made that comment,” Special Agent Robert Lasky told reporters. “The FBI conducted database reviews, checks, but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment”.

Mr Cruz, who is facing seventeen counts of murder, was expelled from the school for bad behaviour before the shooting, and some students and teachers there have described him as troubled. His defence attorney described him as a “a broken human being”.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/florida-shooting-latest-updates-nikolas-cruz-rick-scott-fbi-warning-school-a8214831.html

Related:

The Russian Indictments — Where were James Clapper and John Brennan and the American intelligence community when the Kremlin was meddling?

February 17, 2018

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Jan. 29.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Jan. 29. PHOTO: ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Justice Department on Friday indicted three Russian companies and 13 individuals for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the man who should be most upset is Donald J. Trump. The 37-page indictment contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but it does show a systematic effort to discredit the result of the 2016 election. On the evidence so far, President Trump has been the biggest victim of that effort, and he ought to be furious at Vladimir Putin.

The indictment documents a broad social-media and propaganda campaign operating out of Russia and involving hundreds of people starting in 2014 that “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system.” It certainly succeeded on that score, as Democrats and the media have claimed that Mr. Trump’s election is illegitimate because he conspired with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. The charge has roiled American politics and made governing more difficult.

The good news for Mr. Trump is that the indictment reveals no evidence of collusion. The Russians “posted derogatory information about a number of candidates,” the indictment says, and by 2016 “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and “disparaging Hillary Clinton.” But it adds that the Russians “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,” and it offers no claims of a conspiracy.

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Readers of the indictment will be amused at the comic opera details. In or around June 2016, for example, Russians posing online as Americans “communicated with a real U.S. person affiliated with a Texas-based grassroots organization.” This “real U.S. person” vouchsafed the deep political secret that the Russians “should focus their activities on ‘purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida.’” Sure enough, the Russians thereafter referred to targeting “purple states.” Someone actually paid Russians to collect this insight.

The indictment also contains no evidence that Russia’s meddling changed the electoral results. A U.S. presidential campaign is a maelstrom of information, charges and counter-charges, media reports and social-media chatter. The Russian Twitter bursts became part of this din and sought to reinforce existing biases more than they sought to change minds. Their Twitter hashtags included “#Hillary4Prison,” for example, which you could find at the souvenir desk at the GOP convention.

Yet none of this should let Twitter, Facebook or Google off the hook for being facilitators of this disinformation. The social-media sites and search engines clearly did far too little to police their content for malicious trolls and in the process misled millions of Americans. They need to do more to take responsibility for the content they midwife.

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James Clapper

The indictment also makes us wonder what the Obama Administration was doing amid all of this. Where were top Obama spooks James Clapper and John Brennan ? Their outrage became public only after their candidate lost the election. If they didn’t know what was going on, why not? And if they did, why didn’t they let Americans in on the secret? President Obama sanctioned Russia for its meddling only after the election.

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John Brennan. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press.

The indictment’s details underscore Russia’s malicious anti-American purposes. An authoritarian regime spent tens of millions of dollars to erode public trust in American democracy. As Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) put it Friday, “Putin’s shadow war is aimed at undermining Americans’ trust in our institutions. We know Russia is coming back in 2018 and 2020—we have to take the threat seriously.”

All of which makes the White House reaction on Friday strangely muted. Its statement understandably focused on the lack of collusion evidence and made one reference to “the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.” But given how much Russia’s meddling has damaged his first year in office, Mr. Trump should publicly declare his outrage at Russia on behalf of the American people. The Kremlin has weakened his Presidency. He should make Russia pay a price that Mr. Obama never did.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-russian-indictments-1518825574

Related:

FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch attend a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas 

FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch attend a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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FBI failed to follow up on Florida shooting suspect tip in January

February 16, 2018

Politico

Updated 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged on Friday that some “protocols were not followed” after it obtained a tip in January that Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the Florida school attack, had the potential of “conducting a school shooting.”

Chris Wray is pictured. | AP Photo

 

FBI Director Christopher Wray — Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

 

“We are still investigating the facts,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public.”

Nikolas Cruz

The FBI said a caller had provided the bureau with “information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts” on Jan. 5.

But because of a lapse in procedure, the bureau said, the information was “not provided” to its regional field office in Miami and “no further investigation was conducted at that time.”

 

The announcement prompted a wave of backlash by public officials, with Gov. Rick Scott of Florida issuing a call for Wray to step down.

“The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,” Scott said in a statement, adding: “The FBI Director needs to resign.”

The bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Scott’s statement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, lamented the “tragic consequences of those failures” on Friday, saying that intelligence officials “must do better” to prevent further shootings from taking place.

“It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the FBI were missed,” Sessions said in a statement.

Sessions announced that he had instructed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to carry out an “immediate review” of protocols at the Justice Department and FBI to “ensure that we reach the highest level of prompt and effective response to indications of potential violence that come to us.”

“The FBI in conjunction with our state and local partners must act flawlessly to prevent all attacks,” Sessions added. “This is imperative, and we must do better.”

Cruz is accused of killing 17 people and wounding several others when he allegedly opened fire on students and staffers at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland on Wednesday. Cruz, a 19-year-old former student of the school, allegedly used an AR-15-style assault rifle to unleash the deadly onslaught at the school.

Another tipster is reported to have separately flagged to the FBI a disturbing comment left by a user, “nikolas cruz,” on YouTube in September. “Im going to be a professional school shooter,” the comment read. Two FBI agents investigated the matter, The Washington Post reported, but were unable to identify the person behind the post.

The FBI did not specifically address the post on Friday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement on Friday that the FBI’s failure to follow-up on the tip was “inexcusable,” calling on lawmakers to “immediately” look into the bureau’s procedures for screening information.

“The fact that the FBI is investigating this failure is not enough,” Rubio. “Both the House and Senate need to immediately initiate their own investigations into the FBI’s protocols for ensuring tips from the public about potential killers are followed through.”

Since the fatal shooting on Wednesday, local and federal authorities have painted Cruz as a troubled individual. During a bond hearing in Florida on Thursday where Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, his attorneys described him as a “broken child.”

President Donald Trump on Thursday lamented on Twitter that “many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed” had not been followed up on, pointing to “neighbors and classmates” who he said “knew he was a big problem.”