The Slatest

Obama Administration Relents, Includes Jihad References in Mateen 911 Call Transcript

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of State John Kerry with President Obama after an ISIS-related meeting at the State Department in Washington on Feb. 25.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Update, 3:45 p.m.: Citing the “unnecessary distraction” created by the redaction and the fact that everyone already knows Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS, the FBI and DOJ have released versions of Mateen’s remarks with his pledges included.

Original post, 12:41 p.m.: Last week it seemed that Hillary Clinton had perhaps put the nontroversy over President Obama’s decision not to use the words “radical Islam” to rest by announcing dismissively that she would be “happy” to use the phrase but believed that “it matters what we do more than what we say.” The current administration has intentionally avoided using the words “radical Islam” publicly on the grounds that doing so plays into jihadists’ hands by framing the conflict as one between Islam and the West. As a rhetorical strategy, it’s a very defensible position so long as you understand (as most non-wingnuts do) that Obama does in fact realize that contemporary terrorism often involves an extremist interpretation of Islam. What’s less defensible, and seems like a pointlessly self-inflicted political wound to give oneself so shortly after Clinton had seemed to bury the issue, is what the White House just did: Omitting extremely obvious and already-reported-on references to ISIS in transcripts of Orlando, Florida, attacker Omar Mateen’s conversation with police on the night of the massacre. Here’s one example:

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Orlando police dispatch (OD): Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
Omar Mateen (OM): In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial (in Arabic)
OD: What?
OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God (in Arabic). I 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 (omitted).
OD: OK, What’s your name?
OM: I pledge allegiance to (omitted) may God protect him (in Arabic), on behalf of (omitted).
OD: Alright, where are you at?
OM: In Orlando.
OD: Where in Orlando?
(End of call.)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch argued on Meet the Press on Sunday that to include the omitted details would “further proclaim [Mateen]’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda.” A noble goal, perhaps, but … can’t ISIS’s crack Microsoft Word operatives just copy and paste the transcript above and then find-replace “ISIS” where it says “omitted”? Aren’t all the articles about this going to include the phrase “Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS” regardless? And, just, why would you do this when you know it’s going to trigger a contrived controversy that obscures your actual understanding of the issues involved and creates a nuisance for the presidential candidate who’s vowing to carry on your legacy?

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The conservative web is having fun with it:

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And:

Tough but fair. Tough but fair.

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