Interrogating the Detroit Bomber

Michael Mukasey, the U.S. Attorney General, 2007-09 writes an outstanding piece in today’s Wall Street Journal  What Does the Detroit Bomber Know?

Mukasey’s views on  the subject  of how the Bomber should have been dealt with are presented succinctly in this paragraph:

” Had Abdulmutallab been turned over immediately to interrogators intent on gathering intelligence, valuable facts could have been gathered and perhaps acted upon. Indeed, a White House spokesman has confirmed that Abdulmutallab did disclose some actionable intelligence before he fell silent on advice of counsel. Nor is it any comfort to be told, as we were, by the senior intelligence adviser referred to above—he of the “no smoking gun”—that we can learn facts from Abdulmutallab as part of a plea bargaining process in connection with his prosecution. “

How much crucial information we may have lost from the failure to regard Abdulmuttalab as a terrorist rather than a criminal, with all the protections that the American system of justice now affords him,  is a symptom of the problems which have engulfed our intelligence services who are politically constrained in executing their responsibilities. Abdulmuttalab is the luckiest terrorist in the world for having landed in the United States.   Where else would someone who had plotted to kill 300 people at the behest  of  an organization determined to see the country of destination destroyed,  be given such immediate assistance and solicitous advice in defending his rights once he lands?  Some state that this bespeaks America’s greatness as a moral nation. 

But what point is there in being moral when you are dead? .

I dealt with this very subject on my radio program yeserday, which you can listen to here.

You might also want to check out other radio programs with similar themes:  The Road from 9/11: How Secure Is the Homeland Today?   and an earlier interview with Victor Davis Hanson The CIA Secret Files: What Are the Consequences for Their Release?

Mukasey’s piece concludes with this terrific final paragraph:

What the gaffes, the almost comically strained avoidance of such direct terms as “war” and “Islamist terrorism,” and the failure to think of Abdulmutallab as a potential source of intelligence rather than simply as a criminal defendant seem to reflect is that some in the executive branch are focused more on not sounding like their predecessors than they are on finding and neutralizing people who believe it is their religious duty to kill us.”

It couldn’t be said better. 

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