Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Let The Finger-Pointing Begin

Noun
finger-pointing:
The making of accusations, the assigning of blame.

So--who's responsible for the bright idea of Mirandizing the Christmas underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, less than an hour into questioning him about his Al Qaeda and Yemeni connections?

She did. No, he did. No, they did. No, you did. And the blame game goes on at the White House and the Department of Justice. This whole finger-pointing thing is an integral part of politics, but the Obamists have taken it to high art. In order to send up test balloons, they come up with absolutely crazed ideas then slip them out to the public just to see if the public will accept them. Obama went all his predecessors one better by appointing more insane political czars than they had in all of Russian history. If the plan plays badly, there's always the bus to throw them under. This issue, though, affects the highest levels of government, and undoubtedly includes the Attorney General and perhaps the President himself.

Even though the ultimate decision rests with Obama and Holder, it is now coming out that at least four agencies participated in this circular firing-squad, and each seems to have a representative pointing the finger at the others. Along with Justice, there was a teleconference that included the FBI, the State Department, and the CIA. I'm still waiting to find out if anyone thought to invite the Department of Defense to this little chat.

They all got their heads together (figuratively, of course) and decided on a common course as well as a story to tell the press. The unanimity of the story began to come unglued shortly after the public reaction was angrily negative. So instead of all of them being responsible, the game is to determine whom they can successfully play "tag" with. The original cooked-up story goes somewhat like this: The bomber was taken into custody and he voluntarily stated that "others were following me." He also revealed some other information, some of which remains appropriately classified. When the doctors treating his flamed-out crotch insisted that they had to treat him right away, the questioning stopped.

And then the story starts to go a little cuckoo. Given that the doctors have a duty to render medical aid at the earliest possible time, this doesn't explain why the questioning didn't continue after the underwear hottie had been treated. One source says "the questioning stopped when doctors said they needed to sedate Abdulmutallab to treat his injuries. At that point, the agents backed off." Another says "the two agents who interviewed him are very experienced counter-terrorism agents. They've been around a long time and have traveled internationally. And the Detroit area has the largest Muslim community in the country (emphasis added)." What that latter part of the statement means is up to the reader, but I certainly have my own opinion.

An unnamed source said "When Abdulmutallab awakened, a second team of FBI agents was sent in. Authorities thought he might be willing to say even more to the second set of agents." Still another unnamed source added: "We had to see if he was still willing to talk." Well, he wasn't. And somebody decided that when it became apparent that the bomber was unwilling [only at that point, mind you], the decision was made to go ahead and Mirandize him. Since when is the decision to Mirandize or not made on the basis of an obviously not-too-bright non-citizen terrorist deciding that he didn't want to talk any more? Isn't it possible that his reluctance to continue talking at that moment was outweighed by the immediate concerns of the passengers of the flight who were almost murdered en masse along with several thousand Detroit citizens on the ground below?

Tellingly, one of the unnamed sources said "We had already talked to him for almost an hour and he provided a lot of information." I might be a little naive here, but it seems that if in that short period of time the bomber provided a lot of information, he just might have a whole lot more information if the questioning went on. Instead, the consensus seemed to be that they had gotten enough information, so it was time to start treating him like an ordinary American citizen-criminal instead of the foreign belligerent terrorist bomber he had chosen to be.

And now the game begins. Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair flatly said in a Senate Committee hearing: "The decision to read Abdulmutallab his rights was a mistake." That directly contravenes the testimony of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller that "the decision was, I believe, very appropriate, given the situation." OK, it seems like Mueller might be ready to fall on his sword but then he quickly obscures the situation by saying "I'm not fully familiar with who talked to whom on the afternoon." That sounds like a setup for future excuses that he had been misinformed by the mystery people he talked to.

That leads us back to Obama and Holder. Before the public outcry, the decision to stop questioning and start Mirandizing was driven from the very top. Even if they gave no direct orders to anyone on the scene of the underwear bomber interrogation, their policy of awarding constitutional protections to all terrorism suspects just as they would to American citizens left the interrogators on the scene with little choice. Who are they going to blame for that idiotic policy?

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said in an interview that "President Obama's policy of taking terrorism suspects to court rather than military tribunals [and further interrogation] was carried over from political promises made on the campaign trail." That certainly seems a plausible explanation for the outrageously misplaced decision regarding the underwear bomber and the trial of the 9-11 terrorists in a civilian court in New York City (official word on that still pending). The question remains of how long Obama and Holder can continue to hold that view, given the national outrage over the whole concept. And the companion question is "who will they point the finger at when a name (or names) is required to go with each of the individual decisions?"

Even RINO Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that the nation's top intelligence officials were not consulted about the Miranda warning. If they had been "they would have explained the importance of gathering all possible intelligence about Yemen, where there is a serious threat from terrorists whose sights are trained on this nation. They would have explained the critical nature of learning all we could from Abdulmutallab." The "authorities" who made the on-the-spot decision to Mirandize the underwear bomber said that they had already determined from the interrogation that he had links to Al Qaeda and had lived in Yemen during his radicalization training.

One final note regarding the underwear bomber situation and the complete lack of need for Miranda warnings. Even if the trial were to go forward in a civilian court (a ludicrous concept, but still possible with Obama and Holder in charge), the interrogation could have continued and a conviction obtained anyway. This low-life's conviction could proceed quite nicely without invoking the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine. There were plenty of witnesses on the plane who could provide the testimony necessary to convict, along with gobs of forensic evidence. Nothing Abdulmutallab said before or during the early interrogation (or anything he might have said if Miranda hadn't been invoked) would be necessary to convict him solely of the attempted mass-murder over Detroit. Miranda would only affect a later decision to try him on separate charges unrelated to the Detroit terrorist act. In other words, if he later revealed, un-Mirandized, that he and Osama bin Laden conspired together to bomb Detroit (or New York, or Chicago), those words could not be used against him in a later civilian trial, nor could the prosecution use any subsequently-discovered evidence resulting from his admissions (that would be the infamous "fruit of the poisonous tree.)"

28 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

It's just insanely stupid to treat these guys like criminals. The world of war and the world of criminal courts are just too far apart, with different goals and purposes.

Nickie Goomba said...

We had to offer him an attorney to prevent Bush and Cheney from torturing him.

Ridiculous logic? Not for the Left.

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, Lawhawk - The decision on the KSM trial in NYC is surprisely still undecided. Not that I am paranoid or anything, but I am not convinced that we are not playing this game because Schumer needs to look like he is playing hardball with the President. As I have pointed out before, Schumer has just lately decided to be against the NYC trial.

StanH said...

I always enjoy your articles Lawhawk, but I ended this one with anger. Like I said earlier on one of Andrews post, I pray that there are adults in the room. These are the most inept bunch of clowns that I’ve ever witnessed.

I hear Carter is seen walking around Plains, GA whistling and grinning. People will ask, “what are you so happy about Mr. President, you got a mouse in your pocket?” The president will answer with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m number two!”

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I'm hoping that the public, along with blogs like ours and a few conservative newspapers are getting that point across--strongly. Obama's doctrinaire arrogance along with his inability to admit a mistake is making this a hard slog when it should be an easy transition.

LawHawkSF said...

NickeGoomba: Welcome, and well said. Damn those fascists tormentors, Bush and Cheney.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: It's a long way from the left coast to your part of the country, but from here it looks like Schumer's games aren't fooling very many people.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: Carter has been number two for a long time, I think it just had a different meaning at one time. LOL

It is indeed frustrating watching this carnival legal sideshow. If it were only amateurish, I'd be amused. But it's endangering our national security.

LawHawkSF said...

NOTE: The Obama administration can't even sort out its own logic. While dancing around the issue by saying the Bush administration made such determinations as well, it ignores its own internal debates. As recently as one day before the Christmas bombing attempt, the Obamaists still had a terrorist in custody of the military, and were still questioning him after months of interrogation, because "interrogation regarding related terrorist plans must come before criminal prosecution."

That position reflects the public's view that fighting a war comes before prosecuting a "common criminal." And since the detainees are not entitled to civilian trials at all, Miranda isn't an issue since we can choose to try them in military tribunals, or not try them at all by simply detaining them indefinitely until the wars end. These are not legal niceties, they are life-and-death decisions on a national scale.

Those words come from Preet Bharara, a high-ranking Justice Department lawyer in the matter of Ahmed Ghailani, implicated in the Al Qaeda bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (yes, that long ago). Bharara is the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

His position is that "The United States was, and still is, at war with Al Qaeda, and because the group does not control territory as a sovereign nation does, the war effort relies less on deterrence than on disruption--on preventing attacks before they can occur. At the core of such disruption efforts is obtaining accurate intelligence about Al Qaeda's plans, leaders and capabilities."

That view is 180 degrees away from the Christmas bomber view. Yet both involved Al Qaeda affiliates. How are we supposed to have any trust in an administration with such deeply and internally-inconsistent views of how terrorist detainees should be processed?

patti said...

well, as long as it's finger pointing and not pulling...

StanH said...

You know Lawhawk as soon as I posted that comment about Carter, “I’m number two,” I knew somebody would slam that hanging curve over the fence, LOL!

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: Don't you know we're above finger-pulling? LOL

The latest news on the panty-bomber is that his parents have been flown to the US and have convinced him to continue giving information the way he was doing before getting Mirandized. The plot is sickening. if he does give useful information on other plots, that muddies the legal waters even more over whether any of it can be used against him later at a civilian trial. Probably yes, since it's a "waiver" of his right to remain silent------but. Of course, in a military tribunal, that's not an issue.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I pride myself on my fabulous grasp of the obvious.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--This is sounding more and more like a nutcase debating his evil twin in the mirror. Has any administration ever shown such obvious signs of paranoid-schizophrenia in the recent past?

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: I haven't seen anything quite like it since the Nixon administration during Watergate. But even that debacle didn't rise to the important national security level of this idiotic debate and self-defeating political maneuverings in a legal department.

Writer X said...

Obama and Holder: Dumb and Dumber. Unfortunately for Obama, he's unable to vote "present" on this one. If anyone is to blame, it's him, no matter how hard (and he's certainly trying) to distance himself from Holder.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: It's going to take more intelligence and more savvy than Obama has in his arsenal to avoid the consequences of this decision. It won't cripple him, but it will weaken him.

BTW, I noticed that our born-again conservative John McCain grilled Defense Secretary Gates today on the issue. He made a point, and when Gates wouldn't answer, reinforced it. But like so much else in McCain's political history, he didn't know when to stop and ended up looking like a bully. Gates is in the Defense Department, and McCain knows that the only valid question really was "was your Department invited to the phone conference that made this decision?" In fact, I asked exactly that rhetorical question in my article, knowing that the answer was "no."

Beyond that, McCain knew (or should have known) that Gates wasn't going to respond to the question of whether he approved of the Adbulmutallab decision. As he should have, Gates answered that that decision wasn't his to make, and he deferred to the Attorney General and the President. McCain made his point, and it was time to move on. But he didn't. Tin ear.

LawHawkSF said...

I keep thinking of that Dr. Pepper commercial from years ago, with slightly different words: "I'm a moron, she's a moron, he's a moron, we're a moron, wouldn't you like to be a moron, too? Drink Dr. Holder, Drink Dr. Holder."

Writer X said...

LawHawk, I couldn't watch much of McCain at that hearing without cringing. Unfortunately, he never knows when to shut up. And I'm pretty sure it looked like Gates started to roll his eyes.

CalFederalist said...

Lawhawk. Let's not leave Coke out of this songfest. "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony--mmm, Eric Holder. I'd like to bring the terrorists here, and keep them company. He's the real thing--Eric Holder."

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: McCain looked flummoxed by Gates's perfectly gentlemanly and proper answer to his three nearly-identical questions. Gates would have been perfectly justified in rolling his eyes, though I didn't catch that.

LawHawkSF said...

CalFed: I'm pretty sure there was plenty of coke being taken in by the Obamists, but I'm not so sure it was Coca-Cola.

LawHawkSF said...

Unrelated political note: Mark Kirk, the fiscal conservative/social moderate candidate has handily won the Republican primary in Illinois for the Senate seat held by Roland Burris and formerly held by Obama. The turnout was historically low, and the Democrats have split, with Alex Guinnoulias holding a +/- five point lead over his major rival. The Democrats are not in great shape here. Kirk is riding the Massachusetts Miracle into the nomination, and Giannoulias has Democrat lethargy to contend with, along with his own quetionable financial history. His family bank is in debt something like $85 million, and he was a loan officer at the bank when the bad loans were being approved.

With Marco Rubio now leading Charlie Crist by 12 points in the upcoming Florida primary, things just keep looking better all the time.

Tennessee Jed said...

In a just society, the person responsible for making this decision should be fired. Does derilection of duty somehow qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor?

LawHawkSF said...

Tennessee: If it were anybody in the military below the level of commander-in-chief, the answer would be "yes." Unfortunately, the amateur in charge is still the civilian that the Constitution put in charge of the armed forces. So, the answer there is no.

As for the civilian end of it, as Congressman Gerald Ford once said "high crimes and misdemeanors are what we say they are." The penalty is impeachment and trial before the Senate. Somehow, I just don't think that's going to happen with a Congress even more Democratic than the one that declared Bill Clinton "the greatest President ever."

Ultimately, the punishment for Obama's stalking-horse, Holder, would be termination. For Obama himself, it's called "the ballot box." Having a derelict intellect doesn't rise to the level of dereliction of duty, particularly when you're too dumb to understand your duty ("to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution"). The last President to understand that was one Ronald Reagan.

LawHawkSF said...

Wednesday Update: Holder has now taken the credit/blame for the civilian trial and Miranda decisions. His defense rambled and explained nothing about his decision-making process or the inconsistency of when civilian rights are appropriate, and when they're not. My advice to Holder: Don't walk in front of any buses.

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

I have heard that if you experience a burning sensation in your nether regions you have to have a doctor look at it immediately

But this underwear bober guy Eeeeek!

LawHawkSF said...

Indi: If I'd been the doctor, I'd have shot him. I mean, I'd have given him a shot (for the pain, of course). I hear that he'll eventually be doing the call to prayer, in an exceptional soprano.

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