Today, I want to speak about the tragic shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, and the Justice Department’s response to it.
But, before I get to that, I want to express my deep condolences to the victims and families of the school shooting in Michigan last month.
The shooting was an act of evil. I pray for all the affected families.
Recently, the Justice Department reached a settlement with the families involved in the Parkland shooting for a reported $130 million.
The school shooting was another evil act. It took the lives of 17 innocent students and teachers.
Many others were wounded and suffered trauma.
Based on reports, the Justice Department settled because the FBI failed to properly investigate tips warning federal law enforcement about the coming attack.
This was a concern of mine from the beginning.
Even though the department has settled the matter, the department hasn’t been fully transparent with Congress.
I’m going to highlight some of the oversight steps that I’ve taken and how the FBI still hasn’t done what they need to do.
Two days after the shooting, while chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I wrote to the FBI asking about its failure to act on tips that it received about the shooter.
I also wrote to Google about the threats made in a YouTube comment that the shooter apparently made.
Then, I brought the FBI in to brief the full Judiciary Committee on February 23, 2018. I did the same with Google and Facebook staff to discuss their cooperation with federal law enforcement.
On March 14, 2018, I led a full committee oversight hearing to hold the Justice Department and FBI accountable for its failures.
In the FBI briefing, and at the committee’s March 14, 2018, Parkland hearing, then-FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said that the FBI had begun a review of the internal process failures.
Those failures related to the intake procedure for call-in tips and what transpired in the Parkland case.
For months after the hearing, my staff asked for updates regarding the FBI’s investigation report.
In May 2018, they were told it would be final by approximately mid-June 2018.
On August 27, 2018, I wrote to FBI Director Wray noting that up to that point, “Committee staff have requested a copy of the report seven times from the FBI.”
Here we are in 2021, and the FBI still hasn’t produced the report to Congress.
Time and again, the Justice Department and FBI have failed to live up to the standards of transparency required of them.
The Parkland shooting and the department’s response to it is another example from a growing list.
Simply put, there’s no basis for the department and FBI to withhold the Parkland report from Congress and the American people.
That’s especially true for those families that suffered such a tragic loss.
Transparency brings accountability, and the more the Department fights that principle, the brighter the light will be on them.
Going forward, while we can’t take back the terrible events of that day, we can – and must – take steps to make sure such horrific acts don’t ever happen again.
That’s why earlier this year, along with a bipartisan group of Senators, I reintroduced the EAGLES Act.
The EAGLES Act will help fund and reauthorize the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center. That’s where they study targeted violence and proactively identify and manage threats before they result in more tragedies.
It also establishes a Safe School Initiative to look at school violence prevention and expands research on school violence.
The EAGLES Act is a commonsense bill supported by over 40 state attorneys general and representatives from both sides of the aisle.
I ask and encourage all of my Senate colleagues to help pass this bill.