In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Hillary Clinton told NPR that in order to counter “self-radicalization,” she wanted to create a team “exclusively dedicated to detecting and preventing lone wolf attacks” and possibly even expand terrorist watch lists.
She also called for creating more “integrated intelligence use” among local, state and national law enforcement; “strengthening communication” with other countries; and working with Silicon Valley to “prevent online radicalization.
Clinton suggested that getting more information to local law enforcement could have helped prevent this attack.
“We need to look carefully at this,” she said. “Should we have a broader database? If someone comes to the attention of the FBI not once, but three times, that suggests that law enforcement needs to know, that people need to be more aware.”
“If there had been a broader list that would have triggered the comprehensive background check required under Brady, that might have put a big red flag in the way of him purchasing the assault weapon plus the ammunition,” she later added.
She also suggested a law that would prevent people on the no-fly list from purchasing guns. President Obama floated that idea in the wake of December’s shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., but the proposal failed to pass.
The interview with NPR was one of a flurry of morning-show appearances on Monday for both Donald Trump and Clinton as they scrambled to frame the narrative around the attack. Those narratives from both candidates were familiar: Trump said the U.S. needs to be “tough,” attacked Obama for what Trump characterized as weakness on terrorism, expressed worries about foreigners entering the U.S., and defended Second-Amendment rights. Clinton, meanwhile, dismissed Trump as dangerous and impulsive while trying to focus on her specific policy proposals, including the expanded watch lists.
The idea to use the no-fly list as part of gun-control measures is controversial both among some on the left and the right. Opponents include both the NRA and the American Civil Liberties Union, both of which have voiced concerns that the list contains some names that it shouldn’t and therefore infringes on people’s rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Hina Shamsi wrote in December that the list could feasibly be used as a gun control measure in the future, but only if the list is fixed.
“The standards for inclusion on the No-Fly List are unconstitutionally vague, and innocent people are blacklisted without a fair process to correct government error,” she wrote, adding that the list is “error-prone,” with “devastating” consequences for some.
Clinton on Monday also criticized Florida’s gun laws for, among other things, not requiring a permit to purchase a gun.
For his part, Donald Trump made news on Monday when he sparked controversy with this comment about President Obama:
“He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other,” he told Fox & Friends on Monday morning.
Later in the interview, Trump likewise seemed to say that the president himself is dangerous — and hiding something.
“We’re led by a man that is a very — look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said. “And the something else in mind, you know, people can’t believe it. People, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.
“Later, on NBC’s Today show, anchor Savannah Guthrie pressed him on those comments, asking what he meant when he said Obama “gets it better than anybody understands.”
“Well, there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it,” Trump said. “A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn’t know what he’s doing.
“In the NPR interview, Clinton took aim at Trump, saying she would be more qualified to protect Americans from ISIS and also wouldn’t be such an inflammatory figure among America’s enemies.
“I think it’s only fair that Americans take into account who can keep them safe, who has the best ideas for defeating ISIS, and protecting us here at home,” she told NPR’s Steve Inskeep. She later added, “I think that I have been clear that demonizing and demagoguing about Muslims is not only offensive, it is dangerous and it plays into ISIS’s hands.”
As for Trump’s proposals, he told Guthrie that the U.S. needs better “intelligence gathering” and to deal with the problem of “mental instability.” He also said Americans need to be willing to call the authorities when they see friends, family and neighbors performing suspicious activities.
TRANSCRIPT – Hillary Clinton spoke with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, host of Morning Edition, on Monday, June 13, 2016 — one day after a deadly shooting in Orlando.
STEVE INSKEEP: When you think about the fact that this is a U.S. citizen, how are you thinking about the nature of the threat?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, first, you know, I want to join everyone in expressing my great sympathy and support for people who lost loved ones in this terrible terrorist attack and everybody still in the hospital who is struggling and all the first responders. You know, even as we figure out more about what happened, we need to get to work. And I have a number of proposals how to tackle this issue of self radicalization. I would set up a team exclusively dedicated to detecting and preventing lone wolf attacks. And that means providing more resources, creating more integrated intelligence use among all levels of law enforcement, strengthening the communication that we have coming from abroad, as well as internally, and working with Silicon Valley to prevent online radicalization. This killer was interviewed by the FBI three times and I’m not going to second guess what career law enforcement professionals do everyday to defend our nation. But we need to look carefully at this. Should we have a broader database? You know, someone comes to the attention of FBI not once but three times, does that suggest that local law enforcement needs to know. That people need to be more aware? Do we need to, you know, push the Congress harder to pass a law forbidding anybody on the no fly list from buying a weapon in our country? Something they have refused to do. And should people who express the kind of admiration and allegiance to terrorism be on that list? So I think we’re going to have to take a hard look about what more we can do to prevent this kind of lone wolf attack.
INSKEEP: This is a guy who was working for a security company and who therefore would’ve presumably had a perfectly reasonable excuse to own a firearm if he needed one. What law, if any, would have prevented him from getting one?
CLINTON: Well, if there had been a broader list that would’ve triggered the comprehensive background check required under Brady, that might’ve put a big red flag in the way of him purchasing the assault weapon plus the ammunition. Now, Florida laws do not regulate assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines. Doesn’t even require a permit to purchase a gun or register it or be licensed. So if we don’t have action on the federal level that would have set off the alert, it will be difficult to interrupt the plans of someone like this who clearly, by the time he went and purchased these weapons, was really already on the path to doing what he did in Orlando.
INSKEEP:: Do you want Americans to be voting this fall on the issues raised by a shooting like this?
CLINTON: Well I think it’s only fair that Americans take into account who can keep them safe. Who has the best ideas for defeating ISIS. And protecting us here at home. I think I have laid out what I believe would work. And I think that I have been clear that demonizing and demagoguing about Muslims is not only offensive it is dangerous and it plays into ISIS’s hands. And, you know, we know now that Donald Trump’s comments are actually being used to recruit and radicalize on the Internet. So I think it is appropriate when you look at the test that you have to meet to be commander-in-chief for Americans to be thoughtful about, you know, who has the experience and the approach that is best likely to work.
INSKEEP: Trump has picked up, though, an argument about defining the problem, defining the enemy. He said for example that President Obama should step down for not saying the phrase ‘radical Islam.’ The bigger question there, though, is do we know who the enemy is. Have we properly defined it so that we can marshal resources against them. Do you believe you have the enemy properly defined?
CLINTON: Trump as usual is obsessed with name calling. From my perspective it matters what we do, not what we say. It mattered that we got Bin Laden, not the name we called him. But if he is somehow suggesting that I won’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we faced terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people and we have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism. Whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either. But that’s not the point. The point is Trump goes way too far. He then demonizes Muslims — American Muslims. He wants to ban all Muslims from everywhere in the world, including the new mayor of London who has spoken about this from coming to our country.
INSKEEP: Well he has said he would make some exceptions.
CLINTON: Well isn’t that good of him. But it plays right into the hands of ISIS. And that’s why Americans need to know that Donald Trump’s words are being used in recruitment videos that ISIS is putting out. I think that is a very serious problem.
INSKEEP: Secretary Clinton, thanks very much for taking the time.