In a sudden reversal, the Justice Department decided Monday to release the full transcript of one of the 911 calls Omar Mateen made during his attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where he killed 49 people. Previously the transcript had been released with all references to the Islamic State omitted.
The redactions, ordered by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, caused a backlash from many Republicans and others who believe the Obama administration was downplaying the role of radical Islam in the shootings, The Hill reported.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said the move was “in line with the administration’s long string of denials of the threat Islamist terror poses to our homeland.”
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) declared in a statement, “The attempt to selectively edit the record reflects a broader, more serious problem: this administration’s continued effort to downplay and distract from the threat of radical Islamist extremism. This is unacceptable. To defeat terrorism we have to be clear-eyed about whom we’re fighting.”
Lynch’s stated reason for omitting the references to ISIS was that the Justice Department didn’t want the attack to be used as terrorist 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,” the Justice Department said in reversing the decision.
So far, only one transcript has been released to the public. In the fully uncensored version, Mateen declares his allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
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