Monday, June 20, 2016

DOJ Rushed To Link Orlando Shooter To ISIS, Now Plans To Redact What He Said During 911 Call For... Reasons

from the huh? dept

The FBI/DOJ had no problem rushing out claims last week that Omar Mateen, the guy who killed 49 people in a rampage at a club in Orlando last weekend, had "pledged allegiance" to ISIS. James Comey delivered remarks that said as much last Monday:
It is also not entirely clear at this point just what terrorist group he aspired to support; although, he made clear his affinity, at the time of the attack, for ISIL, and generally, leading up to the attack, for radical Islamist groups. He made 911 calls from the club, during the attack, at about 2:30 in the morning, Sunday morning. There were three different calls. He called and he hung up. He called again and spoke briefly with the dispatcher, and then he hung up, and then the dispatcher called him back again and they spoke briefly. There were three total calls.

During the calls he said he was doing this for the leader of ISIL, who he named and pledged loyalty to, but he also appeared to claim solidarity with the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing, and solidarity with a Florida man who died as a suicide bomber in Syria for al Nusra Front, a group in conflict with Islamic State. The bombers at the Boston Marathon and the suicide bomber from Florida were not inspired by ISIL, which adds a little bit to the confusion about his motives.
By now, it's pretty clear that the link to terrorism is basically non-existent, and that he fits the profile of a "typical mass shooter" rather than someone doing this for ISIS or any other terrorist reasons. As Marcy Wheeler points out, this also may explain why even though the FBI had checked out Mateen twice, including using the FBI's infamous "confidential informants" who often push people to join them in made up terrorist plots, they decided he wasn't a threat. It appears that Mateen didn't give any indication that he was really into aligning himself with ISIS or any other terrorist group, and Wheeler wonders if the FBI cared that he might do other damage, since they're so focused just on terrorism these days. Of course, now that the DOJ seems to be realizing that this wasn't based on any connection to middle east groups, it seems to want to bury the issue. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has declared that when the transcript of Mateen's 911 calls are released, they're going to redact his claims to be doing it for ISIS for [reasons]. Marcy Wheeler again points out how absolutely ridiculous this is, including the idea that releasing such statements would "re-victimize" people. That makes absolutely no sense:
Instead, it appears, the FBI assessed Mateen for one and only one thing: whether his bogus claims of ties to terrorist organizations were real. There have been a slew of articles, such as this one or this one, wondering why the FBI didn’t “identify” Mateen as a “real” terrorist in its two investigations of him. But it appears the FBI was assessing only whether he was likely to commit violence because of–and with the support of–an Islamic terrorist group. It appears they weren’t assessing whether he was, like the overwhelming majority of men who commit mass shootings in this country, really screwed up, expressing it in violent ways, and seeking attention with such actions.
It is true that Islamic extremists want to attack this country. It is also true that far, far more Americans die when men carry out mass killings because they’re fucked up and begging for attention. If you’re Muslim, the easiest way to get attention right now is to say that word, “ISIS,” because it’s a guarantee law enforcement and politicians will give that killing more due then they might give the next disturbed mass shooter.
Yes, I’ll be going to Orlando on Tuesday to continue my briefings in the case. Actually though what we are announcing tomorrow is that the F.B.I. is releasing a partial transcript of the killer’s calls with law enforcement from inside the club. These are the calls with the Orlando P.D. negotiating team who were trying to ascertain who he was, where he was, and why he was doing this, all the while the rescue operations were continuing. That’ll be coming out tomorrow and I’ll be headed to Orlando on Tuesday.
Including the hostage negotiation part of this?
Yes. It will be primarily a partial transcript of his calls with the hostage negotiators.
You say partial. What’s being left out?
Well, what we’re not going to do is further proclaim this individual’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda.
So we’re not going to hear him talk about those things?
We will hear him talk about some of those things, but we’re not going to hear him make his ascertains of allegiance and that. This will not be audio. This will be a printed transcript. But it will begin to capture the back and forth between him and the negotiators. We’re trying to get as much information about this investigation out as possible. As you know, because the killer is dead, we have a bit more leeway there. And so we will be producing that information tomorrow.
If releasing these claims of affiliation would “revictimize” the victims, then releasing them in the first place served to victimize them. So the much better approach would be the release the full transcripts and admit the Department fucked up, both in its assessment of a potential mass killer, and in rushing to blame ISIS in the first place. Not to mention that this will just feed conspiracy theories.

If DOJ fucked up — and the claim this could revictimize people is tacit admission it seriously fucked up — then admit that and make it right. Pay the political consequences of admitting that our obsessive focus on terrorism has distracted us from the more general, and therefore more lethal, problem with mass killings. Don’t try to pretend there’s a good reason for suppressing the very same claims you made a big deal of a week ago.

If DOJ now believes the claims served to do nothing more than give Mateen’s rampage more attention — and it was a key part of generating that attention — then it needs to come clean.
And, of course, as everyone knows, redacting such information is only calling more attention to it, and almost certainly feeding into the typical plot lines of conspiracy theorists. Why not just release the full transcripts (as required under Florida's public records laws) and with it a full explanation for why the claims of being associated with various groups (many of which are in conflict with each other) make no sense. That is, why not try to calm down the kneejerk reaction the DOJ set off in the first place?

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