Top administration officials revealed last week that bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was again cooperating with authorities. Great. But the news pretty much negates earlier claims that no intelligence was lost when Abdulmutallab was prematurely read his rights.
– In Senate testimony, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair had a “Duh!” moment as he hit his forehead and acknowledged that authorities fumbled the initial questioning of Abdulmutallab by failing to call in the high-value interrogation group, which was created to question terrorism suspects. Refreshingly candid, yes, but not a statement that inspires confidence. Especially when the same day, at another Senate hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified that the high-value unit was still in its “formation stages” and that “there was no time” to get it to Detroit.
All of this follows the string of blunders that allowed Abdulmutallab to carry explosives onto a U.S.- bound plane in the first place. The chaos that followed his arrest now looks just as bad.
According to news accounts, Abdulmutallab was questioned by, and cooperated with, the FBI for a grand total of 50 minutes before going into surgery. When he emerged, he became combative, asked for a lawyer and was read his rights. (At the time, remember, no one knew whether other bombers had been dispatched simultaneously.)
A decision of such magnitude should have involved the top brass in intelligence and law enforcement. But Blair, Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have all testified they were not consulted. Mueller said the decision to read the suspect his Miranda rights was made by agents in the field.
In television appearances on Sunday, John Brennan, the White House deputy national security adviser, chafed at the criticism the intelligence community is getting. He said it was demoralizing and urged cheerleading instead. But cheerleading doesn’t get problems fixed, and it’s undeniable that there are plenty to address.
We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.
Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda. Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill. They will, however, be dismantled and destroyed, by our military, our intelligence services and our law enforcement community. And the notion that America’s counterterrorism professionals and America’s system of justice are unable to handle these murderous miscreants is absurd.