Republican Senator Ron Johnson on Wednesday requested a formal investigation into the FBI’s decision to remove Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen from the Terrorist Screening Database (the TSDB or “terrorist watchlist”). Sen. Johnson made the request in a letter sent to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
The letter states, “It is vital that the Office of Inspector General conduct a thorough, independent review because the FBI has tried to restrict information available about the attack.”
This is a reference to the FBI and DOJ attempts to limit public records requests for information about the investigation, including the highly criticized decision to redact Mateen’s mention of ISIS in audio transcripts.
The FBI conducted a previous investigation into Mateen between 2013 and 2014. Documents show Mateen lied to investigators during this investigation, but he was not charged with a crime and was ultimately removed from the watchlist list. As Sen. Johnson notes in his letter, the FBI would’ve been notified that Mateen purchased weapons in the lead up to the shooting, had he remained on the watchlist.
The request also seeks information about whether it is necessary to update the criteria for placing an individual on the watchlist.
“It also calls for a thorough review of the Watchlisting Guidance to determine if the criteria are appropriate to balance the evolving nature of the lone wolf and other terrorist threats our nation faces, with the liberties and rights of law-abiding citizens,” Sen. Johnson wrote.