Should the FBI have questioned him or the CIA? Should he have been treated as a criminal or an enemy combatant? Should he get a civilian trial or a military tribunal?
Don’t worry. Someone somewhere in the chain of command will figure it out.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair on Wednesday criticized the decision by FBI agents last month to question the Christmas Day airline bombing suspect as a criminal and not interrogate him as a terrorist…
The intelligence chief said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should have been questioned by the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG, a special panel established by President Obama.
“We did not invoke the HIG in this case. We should have. Frankly, we were thinking more of overseas people. And, you know … that’s what we will do now. And so we need to make those decisions more carefully,” Mr. Blair told Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican and ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee.
Well, okay. I’m sure FBI chief Robert Mueller had his reasons for wanting the feds to do the questioning. Bob?
FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee today and revealed that he was not consulted on the question of whether to handle accused Detroit airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a defendant in the civilian justice system or as an enemy combatant. Abdulmutallab, who was trained by al Qaeda — with whom President Obama says the United States is at war — was charged as a civilian and given Miranda rights and a taxpayer-supplied lawyer. At a Judiciary Committee hearing today, ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions asked Mueller, “Who made the decision that Abdulmutallab was going to be treated as a criminal rather than an enemy belligerent?” The answer: the agents on the scene, with no input from the FBI director…
“So the decision was made by agents on the ground based on some protocol or some policy that they understood?” Sessions asked.
“Based on an ongoing, very fluid situation,” Mueller answered, “in which they are trying to gather the facts and determine what culpability this individual had, but as important as determining the culpability of this individual, what other threats were out there that needed to be addressed?”
You’ll be glad to know that Blair later amended his statement to say that the HIG couldn’t have interrogated Abdulmutallab because, um, it’s not fully operational yet. Evidently he didn’t know that either during his testimony. All of which sounds really bad, until you remember that the guy who could have made an executive decision here was so absurdly unprepared for his own Senate grilling on this subject a few months ago that he couldn’t answer a basic question from Lindsey Graham about whether we’d have to read Bin Laden his Miranda rights if we captured him.
Thank goodness that our military, at least, is treating the threat of jihadism with the seriousness which it deserves. Exit quotation: “The U.S. military’s just-released report into the Fort Hood shootings spends 86 pages detailing various slipups by Army officers but not once mentions Major Nidal Hasan by name or even discusses whether the killings may have had anything to do with the suspect’s view of his Muslim faith.”
Update: First attempt at a headline wasn’t quite clear so I tweaked it to clarify.