FORMER FBI AGENT: "FBI IN NEED OF SYSTEM OVERHAUL"
A 23-year veteran of the bureau speaks out about the breakdown at both FBI Headquarters and in Parkland, FL shooting. Says Christopher Wray is "not the man for the job."
As the gun control debate takes front and center this week following yet another mass school shooting, the White House pushed back against Democrats and liberal media's subsequent call for increased gun control by saying the shooting at a Florida high school on Wednesday afternoon was not a gun control issue. White House Deputy Press Secretary said Saturday morning that the FBI's failure to respond to tips and mental illness contributed to this week's tragedy that left seventeen students and teachers dead.
Former FBI field agent John Ligato agrees. Ligato says that perpetrators looking to cause violence will do so in any way possible--with or without a gun--and that in this case there were many advanced indicators of impending violence that should have been addressed to prevent the tragic shooting. After spending 23 years in the bureau working undercover, Ligato is now speaking out on what he says is a system in need of an "overhaul."
"Christopher Wray is a nice man, but he is not the man for the job."
The former FBI agent says that the process of reporting tips to the FBI is ineffective and Wednesday's shooting is one example of a tragedy that could have likely been averted with intervention. A person close to the confessed gunman, Nikolas Cruz, contacted the FBI on January 5 to report concerns about the young man. In September of last year, the FBI had received another tip from a YouTube blogger fro Mississippi who noticed a comment Cruz made about becoming a "professional school shooter."
Ligato is all too familiar with how arduous and ineffective the "tip line" is for the bureau. He says law enforcement touts "when you see something, say something" but fails to follow up often when someone does indeed "say something." Ligato knows this from personal experience. Even as a retired FBI agent, he faced difficulty in providing the bureau with a tip concerning Al-Qaeda operatives in a U.S. mosque. A marine corp officer had enlisted Ligato's help in providing the tip to the FBI when both the officer and his informant had been unable to get through to the bureau with their information. The officer assumed that Ligato's background with agency would give him priority in reporting information--but it did not.
Instead it took eight months and continually reaching out to personal contacts still active in the FBI for Ligato to get the information to an assistant FBI director who was very pleased to receive the tip. Aware that there were potential bad actors at the mosque in question but without enough information to establish probable cause, the assistant director then had what they needed to pursue an investigation.
Ligato placed his initial call to a general FBI tip line to which he was told he could not directly reach a FBI agent to whom to provide his information despite his history at the FBI. Ligato provided his information to the telephone representative and waited for follow-up that never came. He continued to try different channels of communication until his persistence put him in touch with the assistant director who ultimately acted on the tip. Ligato says the breakdown occurs because the people taking the tips via telephone are not agents and the information does not necessarily makes its way to the appropriate personnel who could then follow up.
Ligato suggests the FBI enlist the help of retired FBI agents like himself to field these calls and make sure the information is passed through the appropriate channels. He says that following 9/11 many former agents exhibited interests in helping the agency in such a capacity but their interests were not with response from the bureau. However in light of the latest tragedy and the bureau's failure to respond to tips, many in Washington are calling for the bureau to examine and fix its system.
In talking with Fox New, Gidley said that "Director Wray obviously understood that there were mistakes made at the FBI, he made that clear, and ultimately took responsibility for it." However, Florida Governor Rick Scott is calling for Wray to step down. This comes after Wray has also faced scrutiny in regards to FBI's investigation into Russian collusion for bias against the president exhibited by agent Peter Strzok.
When asked if Wray should step down, Ligato said, "He's a nice man, but he's the wrong man for the job." Ligato suggested that a way to really effect change in the bureau would be to appoint an FBI director with actual field law enforcement experience as nearly all appointed directors are attorneys or former federal judges.