Homeland Security

FBI Director: See Something, Say Something, Then Just Live Your Life

FBI Director James Comey told Americans today to say something if they see something suspicious — then forget about it and go on living their lives.

Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch appeared together at a news briefing on counterterrorism efforts, at which the FBI chief said they’re “not aware of any credible threat here of a Paris-type attack, and we have seen no connection at all between the Paris attackers and the United States.”

“ISIL and its supporters put out all kinds of propaganda, like videos and magazines, but that is not credible intelligence,” he said. “Of course, we investigate all of those propaganda threats.”

After ISIS featured clips of New York City in a video this week, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton tried to reassure holiday travelers that a trip to the Big Apple is safe. Mayor Bill de Blasio said they “don’t predict” an attack, but insisted “the city of New York is ready, with our own capacity to handle multiple sites should that moment come.”

Comey said “the threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in America who are being inspired or enabled online to do something violent for ISIL.”

“We have stopped a lot of those people this year, especially leading up to July 4th, and there are others we worry about and we cover all across the country using all of our lawful tools. So that’s how we think about the threat,” he said, adding that terrorism task forces are “watching people of concern using all of our lawful tools.”

“What should you, the people of the United States, do in response to this threat? The most important thing I think is do not let fear become disabling. That is what the terrorists want. They want you to imagine them in the shadows, they want you to imagine them as something greater than they are. Instead, we hope that you will turn fear into healthy awareness of what’s around you. If you see something that gives you a bad feeling, tell somebody in law enforcement.”

Comey vowed that no matter the police or sheriff’s department, “that information will get to the right people immediately.”

“You can count on it. And we will check it out. If it’s nothing, no harm done, but if it was something, great harm may be avoided,” the FBI chief continued. “…Tell us what you saw and then go on living your lives, living your life while we do our work. That is channeling fear into something healthy, which is awareness of your surroundings and not something disabling.”

Lynch said it was “important to note that as we do this work, we are guided obviously by our commitment to the protection of the American people, but also by our commitment to the protection of our American values, which include the timeless principles of inclusivity and freedom that have always made this country great.”

“We need to say we will not let our actions be overtaken by fear. We will not allow merchants of violence to rob us of our most precious ideals,” the attorney general added. “Our values are not secondary considerations in the fight against terror, they are central to the work that we do and they are essential to the nation that we protect.”

“They are also a reason that we are a target and they are what terrorists want most to seek to have us abandon. They want us to live in fear, and we refuse. They want us to change who we are and what makes us quintessentially American, and that we will never do.”