The FBI is defending its decision to remove references to Islamic State in Omar Mateen’s phone transcripts, with a representative arguing Monday such a move will help prevent future attacks.
During his massacre at the Pulse nightclub, when he killed 49 people in addition to himself, Mateen called both 911 and a local TV station to express his allegiance to ISIS. Even though the basic content of the phone calls is already known, the FBI decided to edit the transcripts to remove any references to ISIS.
Ronald Hopper, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge of the Orlando case, told the press Monday morning the decision to censor the transcripts was made to prevent future terrorist attacks. In essence, he said that giving the media uncensored transcripts could provide a tipping point that will drive people to commit more terrorist actions.
FBI: Redacting ISIS from transcripts will prevent future attacks pic.twitter.com/CGyqVrD5nd
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) June 20, 2016
“Part of the redacting is meant not to give credence to individuals who have done terrorist actions in the past,” Hopper said. “We’re trying to prevent future acts from happening again, and for cowards like this one, people like that influence them, so we’re not going to continue to put their names out there.”
Hopper’s claim is in contrast to statements made Sunday by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Lynch said the transcripts were censored because, “We are trying not to revictimize those who went through that horror.”
Some journalists found the FBI’s reasoning a little questionable, especially since ISIS is already very well-known and Mateen’s pledge of allegiance to the group is well-established.
New headline: FBI investigating [OMITTED] suspects in all 50 states: https://t.co/NnkV119TMd
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) June 20, 2016
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