The FBI has taken heat for failing to immediately classify the San Bernardino shootings as terrorism, but a new report shows that FBI reluctance could have been due to external pressure from the White House.
A source told Jack Murphy of SOFREP that the FBI instantly believed the shooting, which left 14 dead, to be a clear act of terrorism. The White House, however, didn’t feel the same way and quickly moved in to squash the terror classification.
This source added that as soon as the shooting took place, Obama convened a meeting with the National Security Council and the heads of other federal enforcement agencies to discuss a public relations strategy.
Part of the reason for trying to avoid the designation of the shootings as terrorism is because it threatens to upset the Obama administration’s strategy in Syria. A case of Islamic terrorism in the U.S. would put additional pressure on the administration to play a much more active role in the conflict.
But in this case, because the preponderance evidence so pointed to terrorism, the FBI’s hand was forced, and the agency declared the existence of a terrorism investigation, going against top-down priorities from the White House. Syed Rizwan Farook, the shooter, had contact with ISIS and other groups.
In response, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Department of Justice was ready and waiting to prosecute people engaging in “anti-Muslim” rhetoric.
Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said publicly that the Obama administration wants to completely sideline discussion of terrorism, because it contradicts the claim that al-Qaida is dwindling. Obama recently suffered major embarrassment after he claimed that ISIS was contained, only one day before the Paris attacks took place.
In the end, Obama told the American people in a public address from the Oval Office that the attacks were an act of terrorism, though he hedged his admission by saying that the war is not on Islam, but against ISIS.
He added that sending boots on the ground into Syria and Iraq would be a huge mistake. Obama has already violated previous promises not to send boots on the ground by authorizing 50 special operations forces into northern Syria, where the Kurds hold sway.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest insisted that the troops didn’t really count because they are not part of a combat mission.