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This time, they don’t even bother lying.
Photo: NBC News/Real Clear Politics
By James Taranto
Updated June 20, 2016 4:38 p.m. ET
It’s a leap year, which means it’s even more important than usual for the Obama administration to deny the threat of Islamic terrorism. In September 2012, it fell to Susan Rice, then ambassador to the U.N., to make the rounds on the Sunday-morning talk shows and peddle the falsehood that the attack at Benghazi, Libya, was just a high-spirited reaction to an amateur video.
Yesterday—a week after the biggest terror attack on American soil since 9/11—the Rice role fell to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. This time, the administration didn’t even bother pretending it was going to tell the truth.
Here’s the transcript, from NBC’s “Meet the Press”:
Lynch: What we’re announcing tomorrow is that the FBI is releasing a partial transcript of the killer’s calls with law enforcement, from inside the club. These are the calls with the Orlando PD negotiating team, who he was, where he was . . . that will be coming out tomorrow and I’ll be headed to Orlando on Tuesday.
Host Chuck Todd: Including the hostage negotiation part of this?
Lynch: Yes, it will be primarily a partial transcript of his calls with the hostage negotiators.
Todd: You say partial, what’s being left out?
Lynch: What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda.
Todd: We’re not going to hear him talk about those things?
Lynch: We will hear him talk about some of those things, but we are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance and that. It will not be audio, it 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 we will be producing that information tomorrow.
Michael Del Moro, who worked alternately at the Obama White House and ABC News (and is currently with the latter), tweeted the transcript as released this morning by authorities (which we are quoting verbatim, including the bracketed portions):
Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD)
OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]
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 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.]
There’s no mystery here; it’s been widely reported (including by the Washington Post) that the attacker pledged allegiance to the Islamic State—though the second “pledge” in this transcript appears to refer to a man, perhaps the one known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
So why the censorship? We can understand withholding the audio, lest ISIS incorporate it into its own audiovisual propaganda. But the Mad Libs blanks are easy enough to fill in. Indeed, the transcript as released is an invitation to any terrorist group to insert its name and take “credit” for the attack. (Update: Within hours after this column’s publication, the FBI and DOJ reversed course and released the full transcript.)
It seems clear the administration’s purpose here is not to frustrate terrorist propaganda but to further its own propaganda. As with Benghazi, a terror attack on President Obama’s watch could imperil Democratic prospects in November. Thus the administration has been at pains to pin the Orlando attack on armed Americans, not Islamic terrorism.
In public, Obama himself has consistently refused to acknowledge the reality of Islamic terror—even though, as we learned last week from the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, in private he acknowledges the truth. And many in the news media have played along with the official lie.
Here’s the headline from a Friday story from the McClatchy Washington Bureau: “Mateen Had a Troubled Past. Why Isn’t That the Story?” Usually the purpose of a headline is to tell the reader what the story is, but McClatchy is using it to express its dissatisfaction with other media outlets for hewing insufficiently closely to the administration’s version of events.
Not that it had to do that. Like O.J. Simpson looking for the real killer, the New York Times is hard at work searching for the real motive:
Rising amid the international grief is the aching and obvious question of why. But the short life of Mr. Mateen, who was 29, provides no easy road map to motivation.
He had shown occasional flashes of interest in radical Islam, enough to be investigated twice by the F.B.I. in recent years for possible extremist ties.
But his professed embrace of the Islamic State and its call for disaffected Muslims to attack the West seem to have come suddenly, as if something snapped.
He was a bit young to be experiencing “flashes,” but perhaps he’d have benefited from haram replacement therapy.
And NPR reported Saturday:
As investigators probe the background of Omar Mateen, whose attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead, they say he bore few warning signs of radicalization.
Mateen had allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack, as [NPR] has reported. But as further details emerge about the shooter, investigators say Mateen’s profile is more like that of a “typical mass shooter” than an individual radicalized by ISIS, as NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reports.
In fact, intelligence officials and investigators say they’re “becoming increasingly convinced that the motive for this attack had very little—or maybe nothing—to do with ISIS.”
Or as Loretta Lynch would put it, “very little—or maybe nothing—to do with [omitted].”
In the hours after the attack, the Times’s Rukmini Callimachi took to Twitter to report breaking news of the attack, including the celebratory reactions from ISIS supporters on social media. That prompted Anne-Marie Slaughter—currently a private citizen but from 2009-11 the director of policy planning at Hillary Clinton’s State Department—to lecture Callimachi: “for God’s sake, STOP. Think about the larger significance of what you are doing here. Hate + guns = mass killing.”
Callimachi—who was not among the four Times reporters who shared the byline on the story quoted above—did not yield to Slaughter’s demand. This morning she tweeted her comments on the censored transcript (we’re running several consecutive tweets together here):
ISIS for 1.5 yrs now has been pushing msg: If you can’t reach Syria, take action against infidels at home. In Adnani’s Sept 2014 speech, he encouraged sympathisers 2pick up any tool they can - a rock to smash an infidel’s head; a car to ram him. Just about the only requirement from ISIS’ pt of view is that the ISIS-inspired attacker needs to clearly state their affiliation w/group. Despite FBI’s redactions, we see that loud & clear in this transcript.
The cognitive dissonance occasioned by the administration’s official posture of denying that Islamic terrorism is Islamic is perhaps most vividly illustrated by the headline on a local story in Saturday’s Times: “Orlando Killings Rob Young New York Muslims of a Cherished Holiday Respite.” How could that be if, as Mrs. Clinton has insisted, Muslims “have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism”?
Real Clear Politics notes that HBO’s Bill Maher, of all people, put the matter in some perspective:
But this is the American myopia. They think of the three million Muslims in America—who are by the way the lucky ones because they can come out of the closet or they can elope with someone who’s not of their faith. Or they can leave the religion. Or they can draw a cartoon without getting killed.
This is not the case for so many millions of Muslims around the world. Where are the liberals to stand up for them? The people who could not abide by apartheid for one second, somehow when it comes to gender apartheid which is in so many countries around the world they are not to be heard. It is a liberal cause, or it should be. There are millions and millions of Muslims who are gay around the world who have no one to stand up for and I didn’t hear it this week.
Something is very wrong with the government and the news media when Bill Maher is a voice of sanity. The same can be said of Donald Trump.