News Release

Orlando: FBI Only Releasing What Makes Government Look Good

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MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel[at]gmail.com, @emptywheel
Available for a limited number of interviews, Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She blogs at emptywheel.net.

Her past pieces include: “Why Was Omar Mateen Researching Specific Law Enforcement Offices before His Attack?

She just wrote the article “Discrepancies between Past Versions of Mateen’s Calls and the ‘Transcript’.

Wheeler writes: “Predictably, the FBI censored details that should have led them to raise questions about Mateen’s invocation of ISIS. It made no mention of what [FBI Director James] Comey did: that Mateen also invoked al-Nusra and the Tsarnaev brothers (presumably in the calls to the crisis negotiation team), which doesn’t make sense. So rather than elucidating, this ‘transcript’ actually covers over one of the problems with FBI’s reaction.

“As noted, there’s also a (more explicable) discrepancy between this ‘transcript’ and what survivor Patience Carter has said (7:16 and following). She said that Mateen said he wanted the U.S. to stop bombing ‘his country,’ which reports on this have interpreted to mean Afghanistan. Given the unbelievable amount of stress she must have been under, I would expect discrepancies in any case. But since she doesn’t specify precisely what he said that she interpreted to mean, ‘his country,’ I don’t think this is a significant discrepancy.

“Update: FBI and DOJ have now released the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (calling it the ‘complete’ transcript), but not the other things that would make them look bad.”

On an Institute for Public Accuracy news release last week, Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College in Connecticut, stated: “What’s interesting about this particular killer is that not only, of course, was he deeply disturbed in many ways, including … [being] a man with great homophobia. Not only do we know all this, but his views regarding, let’s say, what the Clinton and Trump campaigns call ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ seems rather incoherent. At some times he apparently said he was a member of Hezbollah, which is the Lebanon-based militia group, largely a Shia group. At the other moment he says that he is sympathetic to somebody with Al-Qaeda, the next minute with the Islamic State.

“Now, each of these groups is antithetical to the other. There perhaps is no greater enemy at this time of Al-Qaeda than Hezbollah, because they are fighting directly in Western Syria. … So this young man seemed deeply, deeply incoherent in his understanding of Islamic movements. I think this was largely — and I agree here with his father — an attempt by this man to make his own very ugly act something greater than what it was, which was, principally an act of extreme, radical homophobia.”

Note: Michael Tracey, a columnist at VICE, notes that Omar Mateen apparently stated that “I’m doing this to protest the U.S. bombing in Syria and Iraq and the killing of women and children.” Tracey notes that while many reported his “declaration of allegiance to ISIS” — this “bit was curiously left out.”