Transparency Fail as FBI Retracts Redactions in Orlando Transcripts
After coming under fierce criticism for its decision to published redacted transcripts of the Orlando shooter’s 911 calls, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) late Monday released the full transcript which actually names the terrorist organizations Omar Mateen claimed allegiance to.
“Unfortunately, the unreleased portions of the transcript […] have caused an unnecessary distraction from the hard work that the FBI and our law enforcement partners have been doing to investigate this heinous crime,” the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a joint press statement. “As much of this information had been previously reported, we have re-issued the complete transcript to include these references in order to provide the highest level of transparency possible under the circumstances.”
The censored transcript read, in part:
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The government claimed that it had censored the transcript out of sensitivity to the families and surviving victims of the June 12 attack on a Florida gay club, and also because it “did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda.”
However, the initial refusal to name the Islamic State or its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was criticized as being another form of “propaganda.”
What’s more, the Obama administration has refused to release the audio record of the calls—which, as The Intercept‘s Robert Mackey notes, “only seemed to encourage speculation online, and in the political arena, that the investigators might be concealing something.”
Indeed, Mackey points out, there are already discrepancies between what’s been stated about Mateen:
House Speaker Paul Ryan and other conservatives were quick to jump on the censorship as an indication that the Obama administration is trying to downplay the role of Islamist extremism in the attacks—inflaming arguments over the motive behind the hate crime.
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