Just when you think it can’t get worse . . .
We had to do a double take last night when we saw the news stories about the Christmas Day terrorist, Abdulmutallab. Let us make sure we’ve got this straight: The administration last week admitted that the none of the intelligence services was consulted when Abdulmutallab was Mirandized after 50 minutes of questioning and then charged as a criminal defendant. Some in the administration even claimed that those 50 minutes were enough time to get everything he knew out of him. (Yeah, right. Former CIA director Michael Hayden demolished this ridiculous idea in his Sunday op-ed in the Washington Post.)
Now the administration has begun systematically leaking to the press that he started talking again last week after FBI agents prevailed upon his family in Nigeria to convince him to cooperate.
Last week?! So, first of all: How many of his fellow terrorists have rolled up operations since Christmas Day and headed for the hills? They’ve skedaddled for sure. It’s a classic al-Qaeda tactic: hold out for as long as you can so your fellow terrorists can go underground.
But even worse is that someone in the administration is leaking this at all. How does it further our national-security interests to tell Abdulmutallab’s fellow terrorists overseas that he is informing on them? What would you do if you were one of those fellow terrorists? If you hadn’t already gone to ground, you sure would do so now.
If the administration believed it was important to reassure Congress that Abdulmutallab was cooperating, they should have done so in private in closed session with the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. This kind of sensitive information is shared all the time in that way. It is bad practice to tell the world that a terrorist has agreed to spill the beans on his fellow terrorists who are still walking around free overseas. That is, of course, unless the principal motivation is to try to save political hides at home, even at the expense of actually finding the terrorists Abdulmutallab worked with.
It will be interesting to find out what kind of deal Abdulmutallab has received in exchange for his “cooperation.” Less prison time? A room with a view? Who knows?
The CIA interrogation program disbanded by President Obama produced an enormous amount of intelligence from people like KSM, according to former CIA Director Hayden. KSM most assuredly did not get a deal for his cooperation.
Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
— Dana M. Perino is former press secretary to Pres. George W. Bush. Bill Burck is a former federal prosecutor and deputy counsel to President Bush.