Director James Comey has been relieved of duty by President Donald J. Trump. For that, I remain immensely grateful. For you to understand my gratitude we must take a step back in time.
Several days prior to the Draw Muhammad Exposition in Garland, Texas I received two tickets in the mail. One ticket was for the event. And per the information given me, the second ticket was to allow entrance to the parking lot of the Curtis Culwell Center. Ms. Pamela Geller had hired additional personnel to enhance the security footprint for guests and press corps attendees.
As I looked at the tickets in my hand a thought took flight: “Freedom of Expression or Death Certificate?” As the thought began to take roost in a corner of my mind, reflection followed. What did I believe regarding Constitutional Right? And as a member of a free press did my commitment to the same outweigh my fear?
What about Charlie Hebdo? This was a response to the Paris massacre of satirical professional journalists. Should we cower in fear and engage self-censorship? Should self-preservation count more than preservation of hard-earned liberties?
Early in the evening of May 3, 2015 my husband watched silently as I pulled an acceptable black blouse and slacks from my closet. He had offered to drive me to the event and to remain in the parking lot. Responding, I stated in firm manner, “You can only stay if you leave the parking area and await my departure at an area restaurant. My gut tells me the event will be attacked. But I have to go. My conscience dictates it.”
So it was that with tickets in hand I arrived alone at the perimeter, showed my ticket to the policeman and headed to the venue. Flashing my second ticket at the door I was directed through a metal detector. Fait accompli! I was in!
The evening was a lovely one. Thoughts were shared with other members of what turned out to be a fairly robust press corps presence. Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders spoke and left with his personal security team. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer gave eloquent remarks regarding the beauty of freedom of expression. The program concluded. And then a scene which is forever etched in my memory occurred. A member of SWAT in full military gear leaped onto the platform and made an announcement. Shots had been fired. An officer was wounded. We were all directed to leave our cameras and our bags to be escorted to a hardened area. It had happened. Freedom was under attack.
After traveling in convoy to a more remote area attendees were not released until after midnight. The lateness of the hour was due to awaiting the team from the F.B.I. so that we could sign affidavits. What we did not know until much later was that an F.B.I. agent was in the vehicle immediately behind the two Muslim men who sought to abridge our rights with acts of carnage.
After the Garland, Texas attack this journalist began to closely follow subsequent attacks. A thought entered my mind again. Was it possible the F.B.I. had a posture of watchful neglect? The term is one used in the medical field. It denotes the posture of a physician who knows something is dreadfully wrong with a patient but refuses to intervene. Instead, the physician merely observes and learns. But the trick is not to observe until the client declines so rapidly that you lose control of health outcome. When you lose control, charges of malpractice can be leveled.
Has the F.B.I. been allowed to function with a flanking model of malpractice? In other words, should “Watch Lists” be eternal and exploitation platforms receive more consideration than the safety of the citizen?
Surely, Major Nidal Hasan was being monitored. He communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, a dangerous recruiter at the top of his game of sophistry. Thirteen deaths and thirty injuries from the carnage he brought upon Fort Hood were the result.
What about San Bernardino? Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed fourteen and injured twenty-two. Tashfeen was allowed into this country. Allowed to come, after having attended the notorious women’s seminary at Lal Masjid. (The Red Mosque) Was she part of an exploitation platform? And were she and her husband being managed by a handler when they committed a cluster at a Christmas party?
Most damning of all regarding the Garland event is the gritty news that an F.B.I. agent told Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi to “tear up Texas”. Wearing his party hat, he tailed the jihadi and then tried to escape notice prior to being slammed onto the hood of a vehicle and handcuffed. Seems like a bit more than “watching” was involved in that one. I feel like a card-carrying member of “The Camp of the Guinea Pigs”.
Yes, it is time Director James Comey be relieved of duty.