Did American intelligence miss crucial warning signs about San Bernardino shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik? FBI Director James Comey sought to dampen speculation on Wednesday morning, speaking with New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
For years before they attacks, “they are communicating online, showing signs in that communication of their joint commitment to jihad and to martyrdom,” he said. “Those communications are private direct messages.”
In fact, he said, there was no evidence of public postings that might have raised red flags.
“So far in this investigation, we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period of time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad and to martyrdom,” Comey said. “I’ve seen some reporting on that and that’s a garble. The investigation continues, but we have not found that kind of thing.”
Soon after the attacks, multiple news organizations reported, generally with Facebook’s say-so, that Malik had posted on Facebook a pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS chief. At the time, the FBI merely said it was aware of the reports. But in recent days, news reports have raised questions about whether the Department of Homeland Security should have noticed postings by Malik that might have telegraphed her intention to conduct an attack. According to some reports, U.S. investigators are barred from even checking the social-media presence of visa applicants. During Tuesday’s Republican debate, candidate Carly Fiorina blasted the process. “For heaven's sakes, every parent in America is checking social media and every employer is as well, but our government can’t do it,” she said. “The bureaucratic procedures are so far behind. Our government has become incompetent, unresponsive, corrupt. And that incompetence, ineptitude, lack of accountability is now dangerous.”