Matt Duss is scrambling to save face over at Think Progress:
Thiessen’s even got the basic facts of the Abdulmutallab case wrong. Abdulmutallab’s interrogation wasn’t ‘delayed because the Obama administration told him he had the right to remain silent.’ FBI Director Robert Mueller testified Tuesday that ‘FBI agents questioned Abdulmutallab until he entered surgery, and that the suspect was not advised of his Miranda right to remain silent until after he emerged from surgery. A federal law enforcement official, requesting anonymity to discuss an ongoing case, said the suspect made clear upon emerging from surgery he was going to stop talking and then was given his Miranda warning.
He’s got to be kidding. The “suspect” (as if he were a criminal, not an enemy combatant) told us he was going not going to talk anymore. And so the Obama administration told him, “Oh. Okay. Sounds good. In that case, you have the right to remain silent . . . ” Pathetic. If we had taken that approach when KSM told us he was not talking, the result would likely have been another 9/11 and thousands of dead Americans.
Then Duss tells us that “the reasons that the two interrogations were delayed are, of course, irrelevant to the point, which is that both were delayed.” Really?
As I point out in Courting Disaster, Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation was stopped because he was about to die. Abdulmutallab’s interrogation was stopped because the Obama Justice Department decided to tell him he didn’t have to talk to us anymore. How is that distinction irrelevant?
Both delays resulted in lost counterterrorism opportunities. The difference is, in one case, those lost opportunities were unavoidable — because we were about to lose the detainee. In the case of Abdulmutallab, they were entirely avoidable.
It’s the difference between getting shot and shooting yourself in the foot (which is exactly what the Obama administration did in the case of Abdulmutallab). One is a self-inflicted wound, the other is not.
One other point about the difference between the two detainees. Unlike Abdulmutallab, Abu Zubaydah was a very senior al-Qaeda leader with deep reservoirs of knowledge about the terror network that were still valuable, even after the perishable information he could have given us in the early period of his interrogation was lost. Abdulmutallab is a lower-ranking terrorist. It’s still possible to get useful intelligence from him even now. But that does not excuse the unnecessary loss of the urgent, actionable, perishable intelligence he had at the time of his capture — information we should have insisted he give us rather than reading him his Miranda rights as if he had been caught sticking up a grocery store.