Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Miranda Wrongs and Obama's Miranda Madness

Here are two items that detail the outrageous handling of the panty bomber and the dire consequences of treating Islamic terrorists as common criminals.


Miranda wrongs

White House playing politics with terror
Last Updated: 4:57 AM, February 9, 2010
Posted: 1:13 AM, February 9, 2010
Ralph Peters

In a breathtakingly cynical example of playing politics, the White House just accused Republicans of playing politics over its Miranda-rights Christmas gift to the crotch bomber.

With fumbling terrorism czar John Brennan walking point, administration spokesmen attacked those who believe that treating would-be suicide-bomber Umar Abdulmutallab the way we handle shoplifters harms our national security.
The White House position is a PR blend of lies, half-truths and ignorance. Let's strip out the politics and lay out the facts from an intelligence professional's perspective:

* The administration claims Abdulmutallab is now cooperating. That's either dishonest or idiotic -- or both.
If he is cooperating, jeez, you don't tell the terrorists. Why on earth leak it that the guy's blabbing, thus warning the enemy? Could the administration -- just possibly -- be playing politics?

* Even if he's talking now, Abdulmutallab won't provide actionable intelligence. It's too late: His contacts had time to vacate the premises and alter their modes of operation.
The best information that a low-level operative like the Jockey-shorts jerk possesses is highly perishable -- the captive isn't privy to long-term plans, just the immediate details of his mission and a few basic contacts.

Information that might have been valuable on Dec. 26 may be worthless by Jan. 26. Yet, in that critical early window we convinced Abdulmutallab to clam up -- thanks to the folly of treating him to a lawyer.
In the intelligence world, where I served for decades, we derided such useless data as we're getting now as "history lessons."

* What plea bargain did we have to grant Abdulmutallab to get him to talk? Why should we ever have to plea-bargain with terrorists? Can any serious lawyer show us where in the laws of land warfare (which include the Geneva Convention) or in the broader sphere of international law it specifies that terrorists must be read their Miranda rights upon capture?

We're doing this to ourselves, folks. And it's going to kill more Americans.
With its desperate counteroffensive on this issue, the White House is struggling to recover from the PR debacle over the decision to award Abdulmutallab (and other terrorists) rights to which they are in no way entitled.

But this administration has other disastrous policies in place, too.
Retired Army Col. Stu Herrington -- the most noteworthy military interrogator of his generation -- highlights a particularly destructive one: making it next to impossible to keep terrorist captives isolated while they're imprisoned.

When dealing with top-end prisoners (the KSMs, not the Abdulmutallabs), interrogations can last for months or even years. The last thing you want is to allow prisoners to communicate with and discipline one another.

You don't want terrorists coordinating their stories, bolstering each other's morale or bringing pressure on those who might be cooperating. Just the ability to monitor a prisoner's absences from his cell can tip fellow captives that he's talking.

A consistent advocate of humane interrogations, Herrington would treat terrorists more mildly than I would -- but we agree that interrogations require sensible flexibility. You can't protect Americans by bolstering the terrorists' camaraderie and cohesion.
Both sides of the aisle seek political gains from the terrorism issue -- too often forgetting the essential goal of protecting the United States. This time, though, the White House is unquestionably in the wrong -- trying to deceive the American people on an issue of life and death.

In the end, there is no reason -- legal, moral or practical -- to treat foreign terrorists bent on massacre as if they were citizens of the country they dream of destroying.


Obama's Miranda Madness


By The Prowler 
on 2.8.10 @ 6:09AM

A Senate Intelligence Committee staffer says that in recent updates to the committee, and in briefing individual Senators, national security and national intelligence officials have indicated that they have gained "no actionable intelligence" from interviews with the so-called "Christmas Day" or "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. This, after White House officials had told reporters that Abdulmutallab was cooperating with law enforcement and national intelligence officials, and that the information was helpful.

"The information they may have drawn out of him after his family arrived was probably more than a month old and there just wasn't very much of it to begin with," says the Senate staffer in relaying what his bosses were being told. "The Obama Administration has indicated that information they pulled from him on the night of the arrest may have been more helpful, but that intelligence was largely focused on his activities leading up to the attempted bombing."

The Senate updates late in the week came after the White House held a briefing for reporters about the Abdulmutallab case early last week, making public the fact that the Department of Justice has allowed some of the man's family into the country to encourage him to cooperate with federal law enforcement officials. Such a media briefing involving what the Department of Justice had indicated was an "ongoing national security matter" was considered unprecedented for an ongoing terrorism case.

The White House claimed the briefing was to "contextualize" the testimony and comments made earlier in the day before the Senate committee by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, CIA Director Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert Mueller. But after those comments were made public, the FBI requested that the White House not hold the briefing.

That press briefing was held anyway because it was intended, according one White House official, to quell the continued criticism of the Obama Administration's handling of the Abdulmutallab case: the fact that the President chose not to speak about the attempted terrorist attack until more than 48 hours had passed, that senior Administration officials chose to essentially treat Abdulmutallab as a U.S. citizen and to provide him with Miranda rights, and to treat the case as a standard federal criminal case in Michigan.

"It's one thing for someone to go out and say that we're getting intelligence from someone like Sheik Mohammed," says a former Federal Bureau of Investigation official. "It's another to have what amounts to a propaganda event because you're getting tired of being criticized in the media and you want the media to give inaccurate information to the American public."

Adding to the confusions, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had announced that it was his decision alone to go the criminal justice route with Abdulmutallab, rather than the national security route. "No one here believes that," says a Department of Justice attorney in the Criminal Division. "We all know Eric is falling on his sword for the guys up the street at the White House. Something this big doesn't take place without input and final sign off from the Executive Office of the President."

In a New Yorker interview, Holder continued to give the Obama Administration cover, saying, "What we did is totally consistent with what has happened in every similar case" since 9/11. "There's a desire to ignore the facts to try to score political points. It's a little shocking." But current and former Department of Justice and National Security Agency officials dispute that claim, pointing out that over the past nine years, a vast majority of those cases involved either joint sting operations or arrests prior to any attempted acts of terrorism, and that in the case of foreign nationals on U.S. soil, different strategies were used to elicit intelligence.

"It's one thing when you nab a U.S. citizen attempting to buy or sell Stinger missiles with the intent of committing a terrorist act. Or arresting a student from Dubai here on a visa who has been gathering intelligence for al Qaeda for a possible terrorist act," says a former Department of Justice official. "It's another when you have a guy who actually tried to blow up a plane, and had recent interaction with an increasingly influential wing of a terrorist network we're trying to understand."

On Sunday, the White House continued its attempts to downplay the solidifying impression that the President and his national security team are soft on terrorism. White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said on Meet the Press that he had briefed four Republican congressional leaders on the bombing attempt, had informed them that Abdulmutallab was cooperating with the FBI, and that they were aware of the legal strategy the Administration would undertake moving forward.

"Our understanding was that it was a two-minute phone call," says a House Republican staffer with ties to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "And to claim that call might have revealed a strategy moving forward would not be accurate by any stretch. When have these people proven they have a strategy about anything other than playing politics with everything they touch?"