It is with a certain grim disgust I have avoided U.S. Media, particulary cable TV, over the past few days. It certainly is not surprising to me that political reaction is pretty evenly divided between Islamophobes, Homophobes, and those who are willing to make small, ineffectual, symbolic gestures of sympathy before re-embracing the NRA’s cult of death.
Certain facts have emerged about the shooter which, while not as widely publicised, make it highly unlikely that he was involved in international terrorism under the direction of any foreign influence.
Did you know for instance that his employer was the notorious G4S, contract mercenaries for the United States and Israel?
Orlando Shooter Wasn’t the First Murderer Employed By Global Mercenary Firm
Alex Emmons, The Intercept
June 14 2016, 1:44 p.m.
The man who shot over 100 people and killed 49 in an Orlando nightclub Saturday worked at a retirement home as a security guard for G4S – a giant, often controversial global contracting corporation that provides mercenary forces, prison guards and security services. G4S is one of the world’s largest private security companies, with more than 620,000 employees and a presence in over 100 countries.
(O)ne of Mateen’s former coworkers told the New York Times that he “saw it coming,” that Mateen “talked about killing people all the time,” and that he was “always angry, sweating, just angry at the world.”
The coworker, who said he quit his job due to harassment from Mateen, explained that he “complained multiple times” to G4S, because Mateen didn’t like “blacks, women, lesbians, and Jews.”
Yet G4S continued to employ Mateen, who was able to obtain a “security officer” license to buy firearms in addition to his state license and conceal carry permit.
Mateen was even allowed to work at G4S while under FBI investigation. According to the FBI, Mateen was suspected of involvement in terror in 2013. The FBI investigation included the use of paid informants, recording conversations, following him, electronic surveillance, and interviewing him three times, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday. The investigation was closed because it produced no hard evidence of terrorist complicity.
I suspect that Mateen could even have gotten a full automatic weapons permit if he thought it desirable and it’s hard to imagine a system of licensing and background checks that would have been any more thorough than 3 FBI investigations which, once again no surprise, the FBI insist would have caught him if they only had more surveilance power.
Unfortunately for them they had already collected all the evidence they now “claim” would have been decisive using their existing authority, which is quite extensive.
John Cornyn Wants to Pass Law Letting FBI Collect Information on Omar Mateen It Already Collected
June 15, 2016
In his push for new authorities, Cornyn actually claimed that if the FBI had obtained Omar Mateen’s ECTRs, it “could have provided the FBI more information” which would have “allowed” the FBI to “identify this guy as the threat that he obviously was.”
But even the article quotes (but does not unpack) Jim Comey explaining why Cornyn’s claim that ECTRs would have helped the FBI identify Mateen as a threat is complete bullshit: because FBI obtained his ECTRs.
John Cornyn wants to give FBI the authority to obtain what they obtained (presumably via a subpoena), promising that obtaining the same records via a parallel authority somehow would have tipped the FBI that he was a threat when the very same ECTRs didn’t do so obtained via subpoena.
Why Did FBI’s Multiple Informants Fail to Catch Omar Mateen in a Sting?
June 15, 2016
Normally, when the FBI identifies a Muslim mouthing off about joining ISIS, they throw one or more informants at him, develop his trust, then have him press a button or buy a plane ticket to Syria, which they use to arrest the guy.
That didn’t happen here. While they did record the conversations between these informants and Mateen, they never got him to do something they could arrest him for.
And I suspect we won’t get answers why they didn’t, though it seems an absolutely critical question for assessing how the FBI investigates terrorism. If FBI’s chosen method of using informants only works with the dopes and not the real threats, all it does is juice the FBI’s prosecution numbers, without keeping us safe. Alternately, it’s possible FBI assumes certain things about a potential “Islamic” threat, which turned out to be wrong in this case.
Of course maybe they weren’t looking for evidence of Homophobia.
Despite Orlando Killer’s Desire to Glorify ISIS, Discussion Moves on to His Sexuality
Robert Mackey, The Intercept
June 14 2016, 3:47 p.m.
As the first details about the massacre in Orlando trickled out on Sunday, Ali H. Soufan, a former counterterrorism agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, watched the media coverage unfold in a familiar way.
Soufan, who now runs a consulting firm, told The Intercept that before it became known that the killer, in a call to the police during the attack, had dedicated his rampage to the leader of the Islamic State militant group, news reports focused on the timing and location of the shooting spree. An attack on an LGBT club during a month dedicated to expressing pride in that community — and the gunman’s personal profile — seemed strongly suggestive of a hate crime.
“He was not very religious, according to his ex-wife, mentally unstable, a wife beater, an abuser, and his father indicated that he was homophobic,” Soufan noted. “The coverage could have been all about this, if he didn’t make that call from the bathroom before he goes down.”
“Look at what happened here,” Soufan said. “This is basically a mass shooting. Since Sandy Hook we’ve had about a thousand mass shootings, with more than a thousand people killed — and most of that didn’t get the same coverage as this because the killer said, ‘This is ISIS.’”
Online, as Charlie Winter noted, ISIS supporters “are being quite vocal that they want this to be an act of terrorism” motivated by U.S. foreign policy, and they are seeking to downplay the clearly homophobic nature of the violence.
By initially taking the troubled and confused Mateen at his word, and focusing so much attention on what he reportedly said in his phone calls to the police during the attack, Winter suggested that the media, investigators, and politicians had helped frame his shooting spree as part of a political struggle. “That was absolutely what he wanted to happen and that completely changed how the attack was framed and how the attack’s going to be understood,” Winter said.
And indeed, since the shootings at Pulse, many Fundamentalist religious leaders, Christians they claim, have flat out said that the only problem they have with the attack is that more people didn’t die. Steven Anderson said, there are “50 less pedophiles in this world.” Pat Robertson is only slightly more subtle because he hates Gays and Muslims equally, “We’re looking at a favored group by the left, the homosexuals, and that in Islam is punishable by death or imprisonment or some sanction, so what are the left going to do? How are they going to describe it? And they don’t know quite what to do now. The fact that this Islamic gentleman opens fire in a gay nightclub and kills almost 50 homosexuals, that says something and tells the fact that Islam is against homosexuality, so the liberals are going to be scrambling to find some rationale, I think they’re going to have a hard time doing it.”
But this is nothing new, conventional United States mythology about our “exceptionalism” has always been a tranparent mask that distorts but does not hide that the country has a factual history of violence and descrimination against minorities.
America: The Land of Terrorists and Massacres
by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Black Agenda Report
Tue, 06/14/2016 – 19:24
The news media has framed the latest massacre in Orlando as the largest mass murder in US history. Some members of the media with a measure of intellectual integrity will add that the Orlando Massacre is the largest “post 911.” Regardless, human beings lost their lives and communities are in mourning. However, historical records remind us that the murders in Orlando, unfortunately, do not constitute the largest domestic mass murders. This narrative proposed by corporate media is in search of a public willing to digest a sanitized and less-than thoughtful version of history that conforms with the simplistic but dangerous notion of American exceptionalism. The truth is much less flattering. As we mourn the loss of young life in Florida, let us also mourn the massacre of thousands of young unarmed African men and women who lose their lives almost daily at the hands of police and entire Black communities struggling to escape the violence of white supremacy.
We must not forget the East St Louis Massacres of 1917 described as the worst race and labor violence in the 20th century with casualties ranging between 40 and 200 deaths.
There was also the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre in which whites attacked one of the wealthiest African communities in the US. These vilgilantes over the course of 16 hours burned private property, including a Black hospital, and injured over 800 people. Instead of police arresting white rioters they detained and arrested over 6,000 black residents. 10,000 Africans were left homeless and 35 city blocks destroyed by fire. Officials reported that 39 Blacks were murdered but other estimates report between 55 to 300 people murdered.
All massacres are horrific, from Orlando, East St. Louis, My Lai, Vietnam, Wounded Knee to Oklahoma. The latest massacre, however ‘could’ provide an opportunity to understand the nexus between US foreign policy adventures that plunder and violate countries in search of natural resources and US domestic racist actions that trigger staggering incidence of murder and violence on a scale nearly unfathomable outside America.