Part 2: Pulse and Stoneman Douglas - The impact of FBI failures
Bottom Line: In today's part one, I highlighted the statements of fact within the IG's report of the FBI and DOJ. While damning in many respects it's far from the only storyline that's worth addressing. You know from your own experiences what poor leadership at the top can mean to what happens at the field level in operations as well. Whether it's a company, an organization or a government program. We've seen it. A recent study from San Diego State University found that these are the four progressions of the impact of poor leadership in business if not rapidly addressed.
Low employee morale
Reduced productivity within the organization
Failure of the business
When we're talking about government agencies obviously profit doesn't apply and technically the enterprise can't "fail" but it can certainly fail to do its job. It stands to reason that Comey's incompetent, if not potentially corrupt, leadership impacted morale and productivity within the FBI. Additionally, a hallmark of a failed leader is putting the wrong people in the wrong places. Peter Stzrok being a lead investigator in the Clinton and Russia probes is just a high-profile example. What are the odds that it's the only one? And this is where accountability comes full circle. I've expressed my frustrations that in the wake of the Pulse terror attack in Orlando and the Stoneman Douglas shooting – most of the focus by victims' families is focused on perceived political solutions rather than accountability that'd have prevented either attack. It's not complicated. Even if all political reforms desired by activist groups had passed would Omar Mateen and Nikolas Cruz still have been threats? Of course. If the FBI hadn't failed in their duties while investigating both multiple times would those attacks have happened? No. And this is where I'll point out the systemic failures in both of these cases.
In the case of Omar Mateen's FBI investigation the lead agent tasked with reviewing him on both occasions was the agent who was Omar's father's contact at the Bureau (as we learned his dad had been a longtime FBI informant). How could that possibility be an unbiased investigation? Through that prism it's obvious why the FBI failed to stop Omar Mateen despite coworkers seeing something and saying something multiple times. As a refresher...
In September of last year, a Mississippi bails bondsman reported to the FBI that a "nikolas cruz" replied to a YouTube video of his that “I'm going to be a professional school shooter.” Despite interviewing the bails bondsman, the FBI claimed it couldn't determine who the person was or where they were located. Are you serious? Entry level IT pros and probably the average 15-year-old today know how. What's worse is in January when another tip came into the FBI about Cruz the Bureau didn't have any information in the system for Nikolas Cruz. Aside from botching that tip as well – had the name Nikolas Cruz simply been in the FBI's database from the YouTube tip investigators in January would have been able to connect the dots and realize the potential threat. But nope. Didn't happen either.
These are just a couple of the untold stories of the implications of the failures at the FBI. These might not have James Comey's name on them but it's endemic of what happens in an organization that's failing starting at the top. Here's to hoping that Wray's leadership, which I've been impressed with, results in a more responsible and responsive FBI.