Diary

RedState's WaterCooler! Friday, 6/22/2017 - Open Thread - D.C. Shooting, the FBI, and Enforcing Professional Standards of Accountability

watercooler-620x413-620x413

Over at The Federalist Ben Domenech asked the magical question:  “Who Does The FBI Work For?” opening with the incredulous conclusion about the attempted murder of Republican legislators and their aids:

There’s no reason to beat around the bush here: what the FBI is claiming is mind-boggling when they claim the shooter had no target in mind.

Quoting Molly Hemingway  Molly Hemingway where she summarized what the FBI found as:

The FBI admits that Hodgkinson: vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums, had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress, was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria, had mapped out a trip to the DC area, took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security, lived out of his van at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up, legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,” modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock, rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components, asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans, ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting, and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.

She asks the question, “So what does the FBI decide this information means?

Well, the takeaway of the briefing was characterized well by the Associated Press headline about it: “FBI: Gunman who shot congressman had no target in mind.” The Associated Press reported the FBI: believes the gunman “had no concrete plan to inflict violence” against Republicans, “had not yet clarified who, if anyone, he planned to target, or why,” believes he may have just “happened upon” the baseball game the morning of June 14, and that the attack appeared “spontaneous,” are unclear on the “context” of Hodgkinson’s note with six names of members of Congress, does not believe that photographs of the baseball field or other sites “represented surveillance of intended targets,” and “painted a picture of a down-on-his-luck man with few future prospects.

I’m not going to continue quoting either piece but, if you’re easily excited you might want to ingest your favorite alcoholic beverage first, but they are well worth your time to read.  But I am going to quote Ben’s conclusions:

Step back, though, and think on the institutional conclusions here. Considering how ludicrous the FBI’s conclusions are as it relates to an attack on the third ranking member of the House of Representatives, you might reconsider whether to trust the FBI’s conclusions in other areas, as well. And this is how our faith in institutions is degraded: steadily, gradually, with incident after incident where men in suits stand in front of microphones and make claims we know are not the whole truth.

My first, second, and third thoughts were, I’d expect some of the affected members of Congress to call the authors of this report to testify before the appropriate committees and, after asking their other questions, preface the last question with Ben’s statement that:

Consider the number of accidents of circumstance we [members of Congress and the public] would have to believe were going on here to not have the shooter doing what seems obvious from every piece of evidence we have: researching and planning for an attack on Republicans of some kind, particularly looking for an opportunity when security will be low and vulnerability will be high.

I’d close with:

Given the above, if you were in our shoes and a member of our staff produced such an obviously flawed conclusion, would you, if you were us, expect that person to be removed from any position of trust and their employment terminated forthwith?

In other words, why should anyone with an obviously deficient critical thinking skills remain on their job?

But, that’s just what I’d expect to happen to anyone, including myself if they produced a conclusion like this.


Enjoy the Open Thread!