LAW NEWS — Phil Houston is CEO of QVerity, a training and consulting company specializing in detecting deception by employing a model he developed while at the Central Intelligence Agency. He has conducted thousands of interviews and interrogations for the CIA and other federal agencies. His colleague Don Tennant contributed to this report.
When U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made her appearance this week on Fox News Sunday, she was asked about the government’s decision to put Orlando nightclub killer Omar Mateen on a terrorist watch list in 2013, only to remove him from the list the following year. The deceptive behavior exhibited in her response has led us to conclude that despite her assurances to the contrary, Lynch sees this matter as one that needs to be held as close to the vest as possible.
Host Chris Wallace prefaced his question about the matter by saying, “I know that you are going to Orlando yourself on Tuesday, and that tomorrow the government will release transcripts of all contacts between the FBI and Mateen when he was on the terror watch list.” Then he got to the point, asking, “[Is there] any sense at this point that the government made a mistake when it first put him on, and then took him off, the terror watch list?”
Lynch initially responded by parroting Wallace’s preface, restating his comment that she was going to Orlando on Tuesday, as a likely means of buying time to formulate a response.
“I’ll be meeting with the team on the ground,” she said, “as well as the victims and first responders, and meeting with this brave community, this LGBT community, the Latino community that was targeted in this terrible act of hate and terror.”
This response was striking for its evasiveness—rather than respond to the question, Lynch engaged in persuasion behavior by lauding the bravery of the community, likely as a means of currying favor with the public and staving off criticism.
Lynch continued her evasive strategy by failing to address Wallace’s reference to releasing transcripts of all contact between the FBI and Mateen when he was on the watch list. Rather than respond to that issue, she redirected the focus to transcripts of phone contact between Mateen and law enforcement authorities on the night of the massacre.
“What we are releasing tomorrow are actual transcripts of the phone contact between the killer and the Orlando negotiators the night of the attacks,” she said. “So it will be a partial transcript of those calls.”
Beyond the fact that these transcripts were not the ones that Wallace had referred to, Lynch acknowledged that only a partial transcript would be released. In doing so, she held fast to her evasive strategy by failing to identify what was being omitted.