The Weekly Standard‘s Stephen F. Hayes skewered White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ claim that we learned all we could from the Fruit of the Boom bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in a single 50-minute FBI interrogation before he was Mirandized and clammed up:
The FBI did not ask about the information in these intercepts. Wouldn’t it be helpful to do so now? The CIA dossier on Abdulmutallab has grown by orders of magnitude since his detention a month ago. Wouldn’t it be useful to ask him questions about its contents? Abdulmutallab lived in Yemen for four months. How many details about his life there did the FBI get in their 50-minute interview? He was involved with pro-jihadist groups as a student in London. Did the FBI even know to ask about this?
Perhaps more important, the FBI has lost the opportunity to ask Abdulmutallab about intelligence that U.S. government is collecting now. In the weeks leading up to the attack, the intelligence community had information on “Umar Farouk” and on “the Nigerian” and on an attack being planned in Yemen. There is, without a doubt, the same kind of raw, uncorrelated intelligence among the vast collection of NSA intercepts today. It’s entirely possible that Abdulmutallab would be in a position to give meaning to these pieces of information in a way that would at least help us understand al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and, at best, help prevent a coming attack.
This reminds me so much of the Clinton Administration’s response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Everybody was led to believe that the FBI had rolled up the entirety of the network, while Osama bin Laden was busy plotting his reattack.
Speaking of bin Laden, there’s this gem that Stephen recalls from Attorney General Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing:
It may be worse than that. The question may not be who would interrogate him but whether we would even have that opportunity. Senator Lindsey Graham asked Attorney General Eric Holder about this at a congressional hearing in November.
“Let me ask you this. Let’s say we capture him tomorrow. When does custodial interrogation begin in his case? If we captured bin Laden tomorrow, would he be entitled to Miranda warning at the moment of capture?”
Holder responded: “Again, I’m not — that all depends.”