- Thomson Reuters
The FBI and the Department of Justice released an unredacted transcript of the Orlando shooter’s phone conversations with police on the night of the massacre after facing backlash for leaving out the gunman’s references to ISIS in an earlier version of the transcript.
“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 DOJ said in a statement released on Monday afternoon.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday that the transcript would be “partial” and omit the group’s name.
“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch said. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to ISIS].”
But critics were quick to accuse the FBI of trying to downplay Mateen’s sympathies for the extremist group by omitting its name from the transcript.
“Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement on Monday. “We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why.”
The gunman, who has since been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, spoke to a 911 dispatcher and crisis negotiators as he carried out his attack on the Orlando nightclub Pulse on June 12, which left 49 people dead and more than 50 others wounded.
In those calls, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, FBI director James Comey confirmed in a press conference last week.
In the transcript released earlier on Monday, however, Mateen was referred to as “OM,” and any mentions of ISIS were omitted.
- Screenshot/FBI transcript
In its statement, the DOJ explained that “the purpose of releasing the partial transcript of the shooter’s interaction with 911 operators was to provide transparency, while remaining sensitive to the interests of the surviving victims, their families, and the integrity of the ongoing investigation. We also did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda.”
However, “the unreleased portions of the transcript that named the terrorist organizations and leaders 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 statement read.
Whereas the original version replaced “Islamic State” and “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” with “[omitted],” the unredacted version refers to the terrorist organization and Baghdadi by their names: