In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 4, 2016 at 12:52 am

On June 12, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old former security guard, slaughtered 49 men and women and injured 53 more inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Mateen was then shot to death by Orlando police after a three-hour standoff.

Omar Mateen.jpg

Omar Mateen

It was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in American history–and the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001.

The massacre was widely decried as an act of Islamic terrorism. But many others insisted it was simply a hate crime.

Among those opting for the latter: Officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

During his three-hour slaughterfest, Mateen made a call to 9-1-1, pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

On June 20, the FBI released an edited version of the transcript of that call. All references to ISIS were removed.

The Justice Department claimed that it was withholding some details to avoid putting the victims through any more pain–and to not further the propaganda efforts of ISIS.

A firestorm of protest erupted from Republican Congressional leaders, most notably Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Since Mateen’s pledge to ISIS had become widely known, they demanded, what was the point of censoring it in the transcript of his phone call?

An additional reason for the fury aimed at the Justice Department: On June 12, ISIS had, through its news agency, Amag, claimed responsibility for the massacre: 

“The armed attack that targeted a gay night club in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter.”

Finally, buckling to pressure, on the afternoon of June 20, the FBI released the full, uncensored transcript of Mateen’s call to 9-1-1.

This was definitely not the finest hour of an organization whose motto is: “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.”

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Seal of the FBI

It was not, however, the first time the Bureau caved in to the demands of Political Correctness.

This occurred almost 50 years earlier–in 1970.

And the man who was responsible for this was not a member of ISIS. Instead, he belonged to another, equally deadly organization: The Mafia.

Joseph Anthony (“Joe”) Columbo was the boss of the Columbo crime family, one of the “Five Families” of the Cosa Nostra in New York.

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Joseph Columbo

At 45, Columbo was one of the youngest Mafia bosses in the United States.  He was also the first American-born boss of a New York crime family.

But, unlike his fellow bosses, he didn’t hesitate to court publicity–or confront law enforcement.

Summoned for questioning about the murder of one of his “soldiers,” Columbo appeared–without a lawyer–at the office of NYPD detective Albert Seedman.

“I am an American citizen, first class,” he blasted Seedman. “I don’t have a badge that makes me an official good guy like you.  But I work just as honest for a living.”

Naturally, Columbo denied having anything to do with the death of his subordinate.

In the spring of 1970, Columbo decided to raise his sights. He moved from attacking the NYPD to taking on the FBI.

Throughout most of the tenure of its director, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had avoided tackling the Mafia. From the 1920s until the 1950s, mobsters had operated virtually untouched by the most powerful Federal law enforcement agency.

To this day, Hoover’s reasons for avoiding mob enforcement remain unknown. Theories for this include:

  • He feared his agents would be corrupted by Mafia bribes.
  • He preferred flashy, easily-solved cases like bank-robbery and stolen car rings.
  • The Mob blackmailed him with compromising photos of a homosexual relationship with Clyde Tolson, his second-in-command at the FBI.

Then, in 1961, Robert F. Kennedy became Attorney General. As former chief counsel for the Senate Labor Rackets Committee (1957-59) Kennedy had investigated the Mafia’s infiltration of the nation’s labor unions. He had focused especially on its ownership of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Unlike Hoover–who denied the Mafia existed–Kennedy was convinced that it did.

J. Edgar Hoover and Robert F. Kennedy 

And as the brother to President John F. Kennedy, RFK had the power to needed to force Hoover to attack the crime syndicates.

Throughout the country, the Mafia felt a new heat as FBI agents planted illegal electronic microphones (“bugs”) in their innermost sanctums. Agents openly tailed mobsters–and sent them to prison in large numbers.

Most old-time Mafia bosses decided to take a low profile to avoid the new Federal pressure. They remembered how Al Capone had flaunted his wealth and power–and had fallen victim to the IRS for it.

In April, 1970, Columbo’s son, Joseph Jr., was arrested by the FBI for melting down coins for resale as silver ingots. The Mafia boss decided to retaliate.

He publicly declared there was no such thing as the Mafia. This was a fiction created by FBI agents taking out their prejudice on law-abiding Italian-Americans.

Then he sent members of his newly-formed organization–the Italian-American Civil Rights League–to picket the East Side offices of the FBI.

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