The U.S. Justice Department has released the uncensored transcript of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen's 911 call, which he made while carrying out his attack.
Justice officials had originally issued a redacted version of the transcript, deleting Mateen’s references to terrorist groups.
The rationale for the deletions was explained by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. She said, “What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” as quoted in a New York Post editorial.
But following an outpouring of criticism -- from both the left and the right -- for censoring Mateen’s words, the Justice Department relented and released the transcript in full.
The initial decision to censor the material has “caused unnecessary distraction,” said a joint statement of the Justice Department and the FBI, as noted by USA Today. "We also did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda,'' the statement continued.
The official White House position was articulated by press secretary Josh Earnest, who said that the decisions regarding the transcript were made entirely at the discretion of the Justice Department.
Earnest told the media, “The position of the White House is that we shouldn’t interfere with a pending law enforcement investigation.”
The decision to omit the terrorist references in Mateen’s 911 call seems particularly odd, considering that President Barack Obama has already referred to it repeatedly. On his most recent radio address, for example, he mentioned that Mateen “pledged allegiance to ISIL, a group that’s called on people around the world to attack innocent civilians,” as USA Today reports.
Although no actual connection between Mateen and any terrorist group has yet been found, Jack Shafer of Politico observes that “neither side of this debate is well-served by withholding a complete account of what Mateen said that bloody night.”