Coleen Rowley is a former FBI special agent whose bravery as a whistleblower exposed many of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures. She was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. This week she talks with Jeff Schechtman about the recent shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Rowley accentuates two problems with the FBI. One, that local threats — even in high schools — are not the province of the FBI. It would, however, have been the bureau’s job to make sure that local law enforcement was aware of the tips it received.
The second problem she identifies is that too much information is coming into the bureau. Ever since 9/11, and particularly since the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, we know that giant sweeps of “national security data” are producing more information than the government can process, no matter how many analysts are employed. She claims that, at this moment, there may be over one hundred million names on a government watch list.
Rowley’s biggest concern, though, is what she sees as the US culture of violence. More than 17 years of perpetual war has left Americans psychologically bruised, and this is putting their safety at risk.
In this week’s podcast she points out that military service is emerging as something that is significantly correlated with — if not a cause of — America’s dramatic increase in mass shootings. Nikolas Cruz’s ROTC experience may be related to this very idea.