The video below of John Brennan is Politico’s survey of his quotes on today’s morning political talk shows, but none of them address the interesting quote highlighted in the article. Critics howled when the DoJ decided to handle Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the criminal justice system rather than by the military, arguing that Abdulmutallab should have been interrogated for intelligence. Now Brennan suggests they’ll cut a deal with the terrorist to get what they may have gotten for free otherwise (via Geoff A):
The U.S. Government is offering the suspect charged with attempting to bomb an aircraft on Christmas Day, Omar Abdulmutallab, some kind of incentives to share what he knows about Al Qaeda, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Sunday.
Asked why Abdulmutallab should cooperate given his right, as criminal defendant, to remain silent, Brennan replied: “He doesn’t have to but he knows there are certain things that are on the table… if he wants to engage with us in a productive manner, there are ways he can do that.”
Instead of grilling Abdulmutallab as an unlawful combatant member of al-Qaeda, the US now has to offer plea deals in the criminal justice system to get him to talk. Is this “smart power,” or is it a foolish obstinacy that prevents the proper approach to national security? After all, no one doubts that Abdulmutallab joined AQ, a foreign enemy of the United States. If the US thought otherwise, there wouldn’t be any reason to offer a deal at all. Instead of having military and intelligence counterterrorism experts do the interrogation, we’re reduced to playing Law and Order with a foreign terrorist who just missed killing hundreds of people.
This approach will hardly strike fear into the hearts of would-be terrorists.
The video has some interesting moments, including Brennan’s insistence that we have to close Gitmo because AQ uses it for propaganda purposes. Contrast that with Eric Holder’s earlier statement that he wouldn’t let terrorists dictate whether we try them in the military or civil system. Isn’t caving to AQ’s propaganda merely to exchange a explicitly-designed terrorist detention center for a makeshift one in Illinois the same thing?