Lauding the work of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is a popular pastime in the lefty blogosphere these days. The way they tell it, Maddow regularly eviscerates, obliterates, calls out, destroys, and “bitch slaps” right-wing liars. Her recent Meet the Press appearance opposite freshman congressman Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) drew virtual applause from the netroots almost instantly. Maddow, they say, took young Schock to school on the Abdulmutallab interrogation controversy and totally embarrassed him on the stimulus. She also offered some interesting assertions about Obamacare.
The exchange that received the most attention dealt with the stimulus, which Schock — alongside every single House Republican – conspicuously opposed. Schock (correctly) criticized the stimulus legislation during the NBC panel, and Maddow was ready to pounce:
MS. MADDOW: …just this week you were at a community college touting a $350,000 green technology education program, talking about how great that was going to be for your district. You voted against the bill that created that grant. And so that’s happening a lot with Republicans sort of taking credit for things that Democratic bills do, and then Republicans simultaneously touting their votes against them and trashing them. That’s, I think, a, a, a problem that needs to be resolved within, within your caucus, because, I mean, you seem like a very nice person, but that’s very hypocritical stance to take.
Fair point. Schock offered his rebuttal:
REP. SCHOCK: No. I think that argument that liberals are making is absolutely ridiculous. With all due respect, Rachel, does that mean you’re going to give back your Bush tax cuts that you continue to rail against? The fact of the matter is our country operates and govern by a majority. And I, along with almost all of my Republican colleagues and a good number of Democrats, have voted against the stimulus, the omnibus, all of this runaway spending. But we’ve lost those battles in the House. And at the end of the day, my constituents…
Considering the epic gotcha Maddow had uncorked, the response wasn’t too bad. Still, the hypocrisy had been sufficiently highlighted. Schock’s retort would have been much more effective if he’d merely accepted the stimulus money for his district instead of publicly celebrating it. Failing to block a bill doesn’t preclude the losing side from securing any silver-lining benefits of the legislation for its constituents, but openly touting his stimlus bacon left Schock wide open for Maddow’s criticism. Lesson learned, hopefully. I agree, though, that by her own standard, Maddow should write a check to Uncle Sam for the amount of income she personally saves thanks to the Bush tax cuts. I’m not holding my breath.
The subject then turned to national security. Specifically, the Obama administration’s scandalously inept handling of the Christmas Day would-be bomber. Schock served the goals of Al Qaeda repeated the Republican critique of the Abdulmutallab affair. Maddow again came out with guns blazing:
MS. MADDOW: I’m sorry, though. What’s the basis of the assertion that reading somebody their Miranda rights is unsafe? We did that with every…
REP. SCHOCK: Well, Rachel, you said yourself…
MS. MADDOW: Wait, hold on. We did that with every single person who has been arrested on terrorism charges since 9/11. Nobody’s ever made an issue of it until the Obama administration and this case with Abdulmutallab. Literally, what’s, what’s the problem with being read your rights that wasn’t the problem before?
REP. SCHOCK: Well, first of all, you suggested earlier that reading someone’s Miranda rights does not–has never indicated that they talk less to our intelligence folks.
MS. MADDOW: We’ve never heard that from the FBI.
REP. SCHOCK: The fact of the matter is we do know that after the Christmas Day bomber was read his Miranda rights that he did, in fact, stop cooperating with our intelligence.
MS. MADDOW: That’s not true, actually.
Here, Maddow misleads and dissembles on several fronts.
First, she puzzled over the conceivable harm that could arise from reading “somebody” their Miranda rights. In this case, that “somebody” is a foreign national who tried to blow an airplane out of the sky. A majority of Americans don’t believe that such a person is entitled to the same rights as US citizens. To quote a certain sitting president, “Do these folks deserve Miranda rights? Of course not.”
What’s unsafe, Ms. Maddow, about treating terrorists as common criminals has been meticulously documented in an important book that you probably haven’t read.
It’s true that we’ve read Miranda rights to all terror suspects arrested on American soil since 9/11. Others, including KSM and Abu Zubayda, were apprehended abroad. They were not told they had the right to remain silent. To the contrary, they were harshly interrogated by the CIA and coughed up mounds of crucial intelligence. This double standard sets up a perverse incentive for radicals to bring their jihad to America, literally: Terrorists captured “over there” face lawyer-less CIA interrogations. Terrorists caught here (even red handed) can remain silent and are provided with an attorney free of charge. Madness.
In previous cases featuring domestic arrests (Reid, Padilla), many observers were also critical of the Bush administration’s decision to read “these folks” their so-called rights. Of course, in the case of Richard Reid, no workable military tribunal system had yet been constructed — his arrest came a few months after 9/11–so officials were backed into a corner. Not so today.
Jose Padilla is a horse of a different color. His example thoroughly refutes Maddow’s contention that U.S, intelligence gathering has never been negatively impacted by reading Miranda rights to terrorists. The Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn explains that “dirty bomber” Padilla — an American citizen, unlike Abdulmutallab –was initially Mirandized. After exercising his right to remain silent, the Bush administration changed his status to that of an enemy combatant. With his silence prerogative and lawyer-supervised interrogation yanked away, Padilla finally talked:
Brennan and Gibbs are wrong. In fact, Jose Padilla only started cooperating once he was transferred into the military’s custody and interrogated.
Maddow may insist that she never heard those facts “from the FBI.” That’s probably because the relevant evidence came in a DOD memo. Her distinction is meaningless.
She also flippantly dismissed Schock’s reminder that Abdulmutallab was initially interrogated for just 50 minutes before shutting his trap on the advice of his lawyer, who showed up after Eric Holder made the call to Mirandize him. At the time, the White House insisted that Abdulmutallab had been thoroughly interrogated before invoking. Following weeks of withering criticism, administration officials triumphantly announced that Abdulmutallab was again cooperating with investigators. Voila! Political problem solved — although one wonders what incentives the government offered Abdulmutallab to open up again, or what intel was lost during the intervening five weeks. Schock’s final statement, promptly declared “not true” by Maddow, is actually confirmed by multiple news accounts, including the AP’s in-depth analysis, summarized succinctly by Byron York:
The White House is not disputing a report that FBI agents questioned accused Northwest Airlines bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab for just 50 minutes before deciding to grant him the right to remain silent and provide him with a court-appointed lawyer — a decision that led Abdulmutallab to stop talking and provide no more information.
On its face, the contention that terrorist suspects are no less likely to produce useful intelligence despite being informed of their alleged right to remain silent, and while under the watchful eye of counsel, is preposterous. Yet the attorney general believes it, and Maddow dutifully parroted the implausible party line.
Finally, on health care, Maddow offered this stray thought:
The Republicans in the House proposed four planks that they wanted in health reform. They wanted buy insurance across state lines, allowing individuals to pool together, state innovation, and tort reform. Versions of all of those things are in the bill.
Really? The Democrat health care bill includes tort reform and provisions to buy insurance across state lines? As Maddow might say, “that’s not true.”
It must be a nice: Maddow can play fast and loose with the facts while trying to make an opponent look bad on TV and receive nothing but enthusiastic hosannas from her blogosphere echo chamber. No wonder Maddow
never stops smirking.