FBI

FBI folds, unredacts

Following public and political outrage at the announcement they would be releasing redacted transcripts of Omar Mateen’s call from Pulse nightclub, FBI folded and has now published transcripts in full, including this call to 911:

Transcript of Orlando Police Department 911 Calls, June 12, 2016

2:35 a.m.: Shooter contacted a 911 operator from inside Pulse.  The call lasted approximately 50 seconds, the details of which are set out below:

OD –  Orlando Police Dispatcher

OM –  Omar Mateen

OD:     Emergency 911, this is being recorded.

OM:     In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent [Arabic]

OD:     What?

OM:     Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [Arabic]. I wanna let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.

OD:     What’s your name?

OM:     My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.

OD:     Ok, What’s your name?

OM:     I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.

OD:     Alright, where are you at?

OM:     In Orlando.

OD:     Where in Orlando?

[End of call.]

As Ben Shapiro writes, “Is there any doubt whatsoever that if this shooter had used the terms “NRA” and “Jesus” instead of “ISIS” and “Allah,” we’d get the full transcript? Any doubt at all?”

FBI’s explanation of its original decision was simply bizarre (my emphasis):

“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.  Unfortunately, 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.  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.”

To translate that, the fact that FBI was being seen as trying to gloss over something that was public knowledge anyway distracted from FBI’s hard work investigating the attack. It’s called an own goal, guys. Don’t want distractions? Don’t politicise investigations.

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