Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Courting disaster

No, this isn't a book review of Marc Thiessen's new book but rather an examination of what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday. Both The Weekly Standard and Captain Ed take note of the Homeland Security Committee meeting yesterday where senators demanded to know why Abdulmutallab was mirandized, and why no intelligence chiefs were contacted prior to him being read Miranda rights. In fact, Senators Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman will introduce a bill requiring intelligence directors be contacted if foreign terrorists are caught on US soil:

The legislation would address a serious error that occurred in the handling of the so-called Christmas Day terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was charged in civilian criminal court.

At a Homeland Security Committee meeting Wednesday, Senator Collins learned during her questioning of witnesses that none of the three top U.S. intelligence officials had been consulted about that important decision. The determination to place Abdulmutallab into the U.S. civilian court system was made without their input or knowledge.

Senator Collins said this mistake “may have prevented the collection of valuable intelligence about future terrorist threats to the United States. Frankly, I was stunned to learn that the decision to place the captured terrorist into the U.S. civilian criminal court system had been made without the input or the knowledge of any of those three top intelligence officials: the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Secretary of Homeland Security.

“These officials were never consulted by the Department of Justice. The decision was made without them.” ...

Senator Collins said that the decision to place Abdulmutallab in civilian court “likely foreclosed the collection of additional intelligence information. We know that interrogations of terrorists can provide critical intelligence, but our civil justice system, as opposed to military detention, encourages terrorists to ‘lawyer-up’ and stop answering questions.

“Indeed, that was the case here. Abdulmutallab had provided some information to law enforcement officials in the hours immediately after his capture, and we surely would have obtained more if we had treated this foreign terrorist as an enemy belligerent and placed him in the military tribunal system.”

Her bill would require that the nation’s senior intelligence officials be consulted before the decision is made to try future foreign terrorists in civilian court.

“This bill forces the law enforcement and intelligence community to recognize that preventing the next attack should be their first priority,” said Senator Lieberman. “Terrorists like Abdulmutallab are not acting alone and they are not merely criminals – they are enemy combatants fighting for Islamist terrorist organizations – and likely have vital information that will help us in this war.”

Said Senator Ensign: “The United States is moving in a direction that threatens the national security of our country. The fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was read his Miranda rights and was placed under civilian court jurisdiction is as perplexing as it is dangerous.

“Compounding this decision further, we learned just yesterday that the President’s principal advisors on Intelligence, Homeland Security, and Defense were not even consulted on that decision,” said Ensign. “This more clearly illustrates that this Administration is more concerned with gently prosecuting terrorists than it is with extracting important intelligence from them that would help prevent future attacks and protect the citizens of this country.”

This is Eric Holder's doing, no doubt about it. When questioned before the committee, none of the intelligence chiefs could say exactly who made the decision, but Byron York connected the dots. While his suspicions haven't been confirmed, he makes the case:

It was Holder who made the decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a criminal trial in New York. It is Holder who has expressed his desire to grant full American constitutional rights to foreign terrorists. It is Holder who is leading the administration’s sputtering effort to move some Guantanamo inmates to the United States. And it is Holder who is apparently cutting other parts of the government out of crucial terrorism decisions like the treatment of Abdulmutallab. …

That was the message of Wednesday’s testimony from Blair, Leiter, Napolitano, and Mueller, all of whom were out of the loop on the Adbulmutallab decision. Their accounts left a number of Republican senators shaken; as the GOP lawmakers see it, the decision to read Abdulmutallab Miranda rights was a dreadful mistake, one that could have serious consequences down the line. There should be some accountability.

So on Thursday all seven Republicans on the Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Holder asking for a full explanation: Who made the decision and why, and whether the administration now has “a protocol or policy in place for handling al Qaeda terrorists captured in the United States.”

Republicans were troubled by the decision even before Wednesday’s testimony showed that major administration figures knew nothing about it. Now, the lawmakers want to know what happened, and they believe the only person who can tell them is Holder.

The intelligence chiefs were never consulted. Mueller stated he never received a call, but his people had been notified by the Department of Justice. That means Holder, and frankly he's way out of his jurisdiction. Abdulmutallab is an intelligence and military matter, not a civilian matter, and thanks to Eric Holder's arrogance and hubris Abdulmutallab has shut his mouth, and will be enjoying his time outside of a detention facility, far from any interrogators.

I'm going to be frank here. I think Holder needs to be fired. This was not only an incompetent decision, but it could have disastrous results. Eric Holder is a petty bureaucrat who thinks that because he's the Attorney General he's got a license to do whatever the Hell he wants with regard to terrorists captured on US soil. These animals would gladly slit his throat, torture him, or blow him up just as much as they'd want to do that to any other American. This smacks of a turf war in the government, and that was just one aspect of how we were able to get hit on 11 September.

Abdulmutallab is a foreign terrorist. His flight flew into Detroit from Amsterdam. This isn't within his jurisdiction, and he bloody well knew it. Senator Ensign is more than correct. This administration is far more concerned in prosecuting these animals in a civilian court rather than turning them over to interrogators when they're caught so we can extract every piece of intelligence from them. If there's a terrorist attack that is thwarted or successful in the near future on American soil Eric Holder should be fired. His incompetence on this matter alone is enough to warrant him being dismissed as the AG. We need intelligence to maintain our security and prevent attacks. We can't do that if Holder's only goal is to make sure these animals get a lawyer and their non-existent constitutional rights are maintained.

P:ublius II


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