Transcripts of Orlando, Fla., gunman Omar Mateen warning police he had bombs like those used in terror attacks in France sparked a political battle Monday, which forced the Justice Department to reverse course on redacting the killer’s references to the Islamic State terror group.
The transcripts, released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prompted a backlash from Republicans who criticized the Obama administration for censoring references to Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The redactions were confusing in part because officials had already publicly acknowledged the gunman made those statements.
The release of the transcripts was intended to assure the public that police did everything they could to save lives in the three hours between the start of the shooting and the moment police killed the gunman. The shooting left 49 people dead, plus the gunman, and 53 others were wounded.
But in trying to counter critics of how the crisis was handled, law-enforcement officials sparked other complaints from elected officials who said the transcripts had been sanitized to remove the gunman’s terrorist inspirations.