Revealed: White House interrogated Somali jihadi for two months on Navy ship without Miranda warnings

posted at 5:28 pm on July 6, 2011 by Allahpundit

My favorite take on this is Michael Goldfarb’s, who calls it a near-parody of Obama’s penchant for ducking tough decisions by dismissing them as “false choices.” Are you opposed to secret prisons for jihadis? Are you also concerned that federal criminal procedures might be too soft to obtain vital intel?

Well, have I got a compromise for you.

The U.S. military captured a Somali terrorism suspect in the Gulf of Aden in April and interrogated him for more than two months aboard a U.S. Navy ship before flying him this week to New York, where he has been indicted on federal charges…

“What we’re seeing in this case is a government that is conflicted about the legal nature of its counterterrorism operations,” said John Sifton, a human rights attorney with extensive experience in detainee cases.

“On the one hand, it detains persons indefinitely, without access to counsel, using questionable Bush-era interpretations of the laws of war. On the other hand,” he said, “it embraces a more sophisticated approach, by indicting suspects, knowing that the Justice Department is better suited to prosecute them than the military.”…

Warsame was questioned aboard the ship because interrogators “believed that moving him to another facility would interrupt the process and risk ending the intelligence flow,” one senior administration official said.

True to recent unilateral form, knowing that a fuss would be made about sending jihadis to prisons on mainland America, the White House didn’t even notify Congress that they were transferring this guy to the U.S. for trial until he was already on his way. Cue the angry letter from Republican senators, soon to end up in a WH trash can.

As for Warsame’s treatment, he was caught on April 19 and immediately locked up on a military ship as a de facto POW. He was questioned for weeks, without a lawyer present and surrounded by U.S. sailors, about Al Qaeda/Shabab operations in Somalia. At some point the questioning ended and he was left alone for a few days. The next time they went to question him, they gave him his Miranda warnings, which he waived; suddenly, as if by magic, he had transformed into a criminal defendant, with any answers he provided during the new round of interrogation admissible as evidence in court. A question, then: While the feds’ priorities here were sound — get the counterterror intel first and worry about the prosecution later — how can a suspect who’s been spilling secrets for months while held incommunicado in a military prison seriously believe he has the right to remain silent during that second round of law-enforcement questioning? He’d already given up “very valuable” information by that point, according to one senior administration official, which may or may not have been used in the recent U.S. drone strike against Shabab in Somalia.

Lacking a sophisticated understanding of American criminal procedure, Warsame must have assumed that he’d already incriminated himself during the POW phase of the questioning and therefore might as well keep talking to interrogators once they Mirandized him. I.e. he didn’t really think he had the right to remain silent. And even if he did think had the right, clamming up during the law-enforcement questioning wouldn’t have saved him since Obama’s made it clear that he won’t turn jihadis loose for lack of usable evidence. If you’re a terror threat and we can’t prosecute you, you don’t go free; you get indefinite detention until we figure out a way to deal with you. Warsame’s choice here, once the feds knew he was a dangerous guy, was thus either to play ball and cooperate in hopes of getting a civilian trial or to go silent and risk being thrown in Gitmo for who knows how long due to lack of triable evidence. Heads we win, tails he loses, which makes the Miranda warnings (and long-delayed right to counsel) meaningless. Not what the Hopenchange fans signed up for when they voted for Obama three years ago, I’d imagine.

The NYT, meanwhile, notes that while the White House says Warsame’s detention was justified by the laws of war, it’s a bit hazy as to which congressional statute authorizes this particular detention. Was it the AUMF after 9/11? Some sort of ipse dixit from Obama? Something else? Gabe Malor, Ace’s co-blogger, points to Article 22 of the Third Geneva Convention, which says this:

Art 22. Prisoners of war may be interned only in premises located on land and affording every guarantee of hygiene and healthfulness. Except in particular cases which are justified by the interest of the prisoners themselves, they shall not be interned in penitentiaries.

Oh well. See now why I think, if push came to shove, the big O would let the CIA look the other way at his ban on enhanced interrogation?

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Nobel Laureate.

KMC1 on July 6, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Cue the angry letter from Republican senators, soon to end up in a WH trash can.

Winnah!

SouthernGent on July 6, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Aboard a ship surrounded by water.

Waterboarding.

Left Coast Right Mind on July 6, 2011 at 5:32 PM

How do you like him now, Obama-voting rubes?

AZCoyote on July 6, 2011 at 5:34 PM

Bush’s Fault.

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 5:34 PM

Those jackasses in Norway that gave the D!ck a Nobel Peace Prize have to be hiding under their desks this year. Better for us, it further demeans this useless and meaningless award.

slickwillie2001 on July 6, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Unless we stop conducting this war like a criminal prosecution we’re going to lose.

single stack on July 6, 2011 at 5:38 PM

The NYT, meanwhile, notes that while the White House says Warsame’s detention was justified by the laws of war, it’s a bit hazy as to which congressional statute authorizes this particular detention

Be sure to read the comments at the NYT link. You might be surprised.

My fave, from a law professor in NY:

These comments are awful and terribly ignorant! I expected better from NY Times readers!

He has rights if you are going to try him in a federal court. It doesn’t matter what his nationality is. He has rights if he is a prisoner of war, if you captured him in a battle field. You cant just shoot prisoners of war. What is wrong with these commenters? More importantly, he was not captured while fighting in a battle field. He is only accused of aiding a terrorist group! Well, anybody can be charged with aiding a terrorist group. Thousands of people living in Boston aided the IRA, a known terorist group for decades! Are you going to shoot them all? Have you all gone mad with anti muslim propaganda?

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Who IS this guy, Obama… really???

He seems to really be the Manchurian candidate. If we were not in a post-soviet era, I’d call him Uri.

singlemalt 18 on July 6, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Was the suspect allowed access to the Somalian consulate?

Left Coast Right Mind on July 6, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Cheney did it.

Dingbat63 on July 6, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I wonder if the Red Cross was given access to him?

jl on July 6, 2011 at 5:45 PM

OOPS!

gophergirl on July 6, 2011 at 5:46 PM

(SIGH)16 months to go………..

flackcatcher on July 6, 2011 at 5:46 PM

They told me if I voted for McCain extra legal interrogations would continue and they were right!

NotCoach on July 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Nothing like consistency. The Navy/CIA could have interrogated him aboard ship, then flown him to Gitmo and continued the interrogation there, leading to a military trial. No need to Mirandize him, since he’s not an American citizen or resident alien.

But now that he’s been interrogated by the military, THEN indicted and Mirandized for trial in Federal Court in the States, could some lefty judge throw out all the evidence obtained by military interrogation, because he didn’t have Miranda rights at the time? What about the security measures needed to protect innocent New Yorkers from this dangerous terrorist while he’s tried? It would be a whole lot cheaper in Gitmo, which was built for such people…

Steve Z on July 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Thoughts, crr?

“Well, uh….HLS! Magna cum laude!”

Good Solid B-Plus on July 6, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Heads we win, tails he loses

Sounds good to me. I don’t have a problem with this. I do have a problem with indefinite detention without any legal recourse, though.

tneloms on July 6, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Steve Z on July 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Don’t forget how the Times Square bomber was Mirandized immediately upon capture and he clammed up. And yet we were told by our liberal betters that interrogations like these produce nothing valuable. It only proves that these idiots are not stupid, but poltical hacks only interested in gaining power.

NotCoach on July 6, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Was the suspect allowed access to the Somalian consulate?

Left Coast Right Mind on July 6, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Ooohhh…that’s gonna leave a mark.

catmman on July 6, 2011 at 5:55 PM

“What we’re seeing in this case is a government that is conflicted about the legal nature of its counterterrorism operations,” said John Sifton, a human rights attorney with extensive experience in detainee cases.

In other words, Dick with Ears (geez, it really does sing) doesn’t have any principles. Does he believe in following the law or not?

Bush wasn’t conflicted, so it ain’t the government thats conflicted, dufus.

BobMbx on July 6, 2011 at 5:55 PM

These comments are awful and terribly ignorant! I expected better from NY Times readers!

He has rights if you are going to try him in a federal court. It doesn’t matter what his nationality is. He has rights if he is a prisoner of war, if you captured him in a battle field. You cant just shoot prisoners of war. What is wrong with these commenters? More importantly, he was not captured while fighting in a battle field. He is only accused of aiding a terrorist group! Well, anybody can be charged with aiding a terrorist group. Thousands of people living in Boston aided the IRA, a known terorist group for decades! Are you going to shoot them all? Have you all gone mad with anti muslim propaganda?

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 5:40 PM

I would have replied to him, you are right, we can however let them off the ship for a swim!

bluemarlin on July 6, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Was the suspect allowed access to the Somalian consulate?

Left Coast Right Mind on July 6, 2011 at 5:44 PM

This needs to go to Jake Tapper….

BobMbx on July 6, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Thoughts, crr?

“Well, uh….HLS! Magna cum laude!”

Good Solid B-Plus on July 6, 2011 at 5:50 PM

You missed one:

“Only Editor of the Harvard Law Review to never have written an article for that publication.”

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 5:57 PM

This needs to go to Jake Tapper….

BobMbx on July 6, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Tapper is no good any more. He admitted as much the other day when he couldn’t deny that the Democrat Media totally spiked the story of O’bama’s screwup with the Medal of Honor recipient.

Del Dolemonte on July 6, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Obama owns Guantanamo, the recession, the unemployment rate, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Libya, the failed stimulus, the national debt crisis, failure to create millions of green jobs we cannot ship overseas, goofy release of oil from the strategic reserve, poor leadership before, during and after the Gulf oil spill, a regime with no transparency, and many others and now secret prisoner interrogations at sea. What’s not to like about this guy?

stefano1 on July 6, 2011 at 5:59 PM

and they bashed w for 8 years….unstinkingbelievable….

cmsinaz on July 6, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Hmmmm. I would think that trying a foreign national in an American criminal court for something they did overseas that did not directly involve Americans sets a terrible precedent.

Wouldn’t that open the door to Egypt trying an American for killing bin Laden in Pakistan, for example?

ProfessorMiao on July 6, 2011 at 6:03 PM

MO of dear leader…bypass congress on EVERYTHING

cmsinaz on July 6, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Why would I have a problem with shooting the Boston IRA supporters? Supporting terror is supporting terror, whether wearing a rosary or a turban or nothing at all.

SDN on July 6, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Everything they accuse Bush of being and doing, Obama does without apology. And the media pull a Sgt. Schultz and claim They See Nothinkkkk!!!

portlandon on July 6, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Obama is Bushhitler, teh-heh!

Schadenfreude on July 6, 2011 at 6:09 PM

It’s good to be the king.

========================================================

Someone should tell him that he’s wearing no clothes…

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 6:10 PM

COMMERCE CLAUSE!!!

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 6:11 PM

But nothing illustrated the incredible shrinking presidency better than Mr. Obama’s odd national address on Afghanistan, when he took a moment to say this: “We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy.”

What on earth is President Obama talking about? The short answer is everything — and nothing.

The most cerebral president in America’s history — yes, much smarter than Madison, Jefferson, Adams, any of the Founding Fathers, to hear the mainstream media gush — is suddenly sounding like a community college dropout.

Schadenfreude on July 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM

So they bring this guy in to the country and charge him in federal court. Suppose a federal judge take the very reasonable position that all the information they obtained was “fruit of the poisonous tree” and the case falls apart.

What then?

It is Obama’s theater of the absurd. He can’t bring himself to send any more terrorists to Gitmo, the place designed and built at great cost for just that. So he has been killing the terrorists instead. Now this guy falls into their hands. What to do? Can’t send him to Gitmo, so they keep him on a Navy ship. No doubt the interrogation involved giving the scumbags tea and cakes until he talked. Meanwhile someone (I smell Eric Holder)gets the bright idea that since he wasn’t sent to Gitmo the Congressional ban on funding to bring terrorists captured abroad on to American soil didn’t apply, and so they poke their thumbs in Congress’ eyes and bring him in.

Now a bunch of Congressman (not to mention regular old Americans) are going to be pretty upset, and some of them are going to be Democrats. I have a hunch this one is going to backfire, big time.

novaculus on July 6, 2011 at 6:20 PM

I know Mr. President is not the first to be sneaking around Congress’ back and bending the rules and covering things up and using trickery and deceit and holding closed door meetings and appointing posts to cronies and hiding meetings with union leaders and lobbyists…but WOW. Nixon was an amateur in comparison.

scalleywag on July 6, 2011 at 6:34 PM

I guess I am sorta not into the legal thing, but isn’t the miranda rights only for US citizens? Or does this ‘right’ go for every tom, dick, harry, sally, or daffy duck? How much money will we taxpayers give to see this little darling get ‘his’ fair trail here under holder? God help my Republic because if things don’t change we are more than SOL!
L

letget on July 6, 2011 at 6:36 PM

These characters’ names…Weiner, Winsome, War-same…it’s like one big choreographed dinner-theatre.

hoosiermama on July 6, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Sure this is bad but don’t vote for Romney or Bachmann or Pawlenty or Cain or Paul or Santorum or Palin. For some reason as they don’t all pass the Conservative litmus test on all levels so don’t vote for them. If your candidate does not win the primary or does not even try vote for who ever does.

Then stuff like this will still happen on ship but they will then head to military court or a long walk off a short plank.

tjexcite on July 6, 2011 at 6:41 PM

I guess I am sorta not into the legal thing, but isn’t the miranda rights only for US citizens?

letget on July 6, 2011 at 6:36 PM

I would think not – a Canadian arrested in the US has the same legal rights as an American (and vice versa). But this guy isn’t America, wasn’t in America, maybe had never been in America?, didn’t commit a crime in America. Did he commit a crime that even involved Americans? I don’t know what he’s been charged with.

ProfessorMiao on July 6, 2011 at 6:46 PM

I wonder if he remembered to tweet that s***?

hillbillyjim on July 6, 2011 at 6:52 PM

Remember, it’s only a ‘violation’ if Barry says it’s a ‘violation’.

It’s good to be the king.

GarandFan on July 6, 2011 at 6:53 PM

If he’s to be tried in a court here, watch him walk. It’ll be simple, just because of the miranda rights not being made to him in the first place.

Now the big question. Was this done intentionally? I mean, c’mon. Even Obama knows this. If we’re being doen in from the inside, Obama’s taking the lead. Intentionally.

capejasmine on July 6, 2011 at 6:57 PM

hmmmm…well, i really don’t understand. I thought that federal law applied to US persons. So this is a foreign national that’s never set foot on US soil and he is being charged with a Fed crime of material support of terrorism?

r keller on July 6, 2011 at 7:06 PM

Can’t wait to hear crrr6 turn herself into a pretzel over this one…

ladyingray on July 6, 2011 at 7:12 PM

hmmmm…well, i really don’t understand. I thought that federal law applied to US persons. So this is a foreign national that’s never set foot on US soil and he is being charged with a Fed crime of material support of terrorism?

r keller on July 6, 2011 at 7:06 PM

Odd, isn’t it.

ProfessorMiao on July 6, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Can’t wait to hear crrr6 turn herself into a pretzel over this one…

ladyingray on July 6, 2011 at 7:12 PM

LOL

Popcorn anyone? ;)

capejasmine on July 6, 2011 at 7:35 PM

novaculus on July 6, 2011 at 6:20 PM

He gets shipped to Gitmo, indefinitely.

Heads we win, tails he loses.

What, did you think this was some kind of republic, where the rule of law reigned supreme?

apollyonbob on July 6, 2011 at 8:09 PM

I thought being on board a commissioned naval vessel was the same as being on the soil of the nation that commissioned said vessel and thus subject to all of its laws and regulations.

Is this true folks?

President Bush must just love the word “vindication”!

Bubba Redneck on July 6, 2011 at 8:57 PM

This is perfectly consistent with what Obama has always advocated and precisely what we did with the undie bomber.

1) confine and interrogate (without torture)
2) once you’ve got the info, turn him over to the justice system.

Perfectly consistent with treaty obligations and the rule of law. What people have objected to is torture and indefinite detention. I don’t see that either happened in this case.

Hal_10000 on July 6, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Paging Crr6……Paging Crr6……Paging Crr6
Clarification on legal matter concerning AG Holder and Obama.
Paging Crr6……Paging Crr6……Paging Crr6

*crickets*

IowaWoman on July 6, 2011 at 11:10 PM

If Bush was in power ____________________ (fill-in the blank)

SC.Charlie on July 7, 2011 at 6:43 AM