FBI, Christopher Wray
FBI Director Christopher Wray. Photo credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation / Flickr

The FBI is one of the few institutions that, no matter how often it screws up in major ways, no matter that there is something deeply wrong with the place, never seems to be held accountable.

WhoWhatWhy often covers situations where the FBI knew something in advance before heinous crimes were committed — and then apparently did nothing.

Many of those are so extremely weird that no one knows what to make of the phenomenon, and, frankly, people just don’t want to contemplate whether we are looking at gross incompetence, misplaced priorities, or something worse.

It is with that as background that we contemplate the latest revelation: the FBI had been warned ahead of time that Nikolas Cruz, the alleged Miami-area high school mass murderer, was armed and dangerous and likely to take action.

On January 5, the FBI received a tip from someone close to Cruz. It provided information about his “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of his conducting a school shooting.” But the FBI failed to follow up and investigate the claims.

That wasn’t the only red flag.

Back in September, a man reported a YouTube comment from a “nikolas cruz” that said “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The FBI looked into it, but reportedly were unable to determine the identity of the commenter.

Now, what about that pattern of screw-ups?

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from FBI building (Travel Aficionado / Flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0) and mug shot.


  • Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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Olle Reimers

Why? That is the real question!


Thanks for the handy list. These “lapses” are why I wondered if anyone should be taking the FBI’s word for what is most dangerous when I read Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia. I see that Jeff has just interviewed Coleen Rowley, author of a 2003 memo to then FBI director Robert Mueller. She described the behavior of the top brass in the organization’s radical fundamentalist unit who refused to submit a FISA warrant so she and her colleagues could access Zacarias Moussaoui’s laptop. The warrant wasn’t granted until 9/11 was underway. Rowley wrote–only half jokingly–that they began to wonder if there was a mole at FBI headquarters. Greg Frasca, the most prominent of those who blocked Rowley’s requests, took point and was later promoted. It’s almost as if J. Edgar Hoover was still in charge.

Kevin Beck

The worst part that I see coming out of this is that more power will be stolen by the government, at the expense of the people. This seems to be the legacy of every government failure.