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IBD: Miranda Wrongs

January 25, 2010

Miranda Wrongs

IBD: 25 Jan 2010

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair says just because the new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group failed to swing into action in the...Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair says just because the new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group failed to swing into action in the… View Enlarged Image

Homeland Security: For months, our new “High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group” has supposedly been on call. Why was it AWOL before the Christmas Day bomber was improperly read his right to remain silent?

The White House is against Bush administration-style enhanced interrogation. But is it so dominated by the quasi-constitutional mind-set of the American Civil Liberties Union that it’s really against any kind of interrogation?

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week that “we should have automatically deployed” the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), set up by President Obama last year, against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The Nigerian is the suspected al-Qaida agent who allegedly tried to blow up a U.S. jet with nearly 300 passengers aboard on Dec. 25.

Blair’s after-the-fact promise — “that’s what we will do now” — doesn’t cut it. Imagine if Abdulmutallab’s botched detonation was only the first piece of a larger operation involving other airliners. Think of the precious time lost because HIG’s elite team of interrogators, overseen directly by the Obama administration rather than any of our intelligence agencies, was never called onto the scene.

It was never activated to perform its specific purpose: to interrogate terrorists so as to extract information that will prevent planned attacks and save American lives.

Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department reportedly made the decision to have this enemy combatant, a would-be murderer of hundreds of innocent people in an act of war, be read his Miranda rights like some local hoodlum shaking down a 7-Eleven. Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama has written Holder demanding to know who exactly made such a “hasty” decision.

“We need to make those decisions more carefully,” Blair conceded to senators. Really, Mr. Director? You think so? Another excuse was the assumption that HIG would grill suspects in foreign locales. “We did not think about” a case such as Abdulmutallab’s “in which a terrorist was apprehended, as this one was, in the United States and we should have thought of that.”

That’s pathetic. More than eight years after 9/11 such “decisions” should be automatic.

Adding to the spectacle, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter both said they were not consulted about treating Abdulmutallab as a POW rather than a civilian criminal — nor were they consulted regarding his interrogation. Incomprehensibly, Leiter even revealed that the U.S. government is unable to conduct a search on a suspected jihadist across all U.S. intelligence agency databases.

As Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., quipped during another Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that addressed Abdulmutallab’s name being misspelled in the U.S. terrorist watch list: “I can search on Google, and it’ll give me other suggestions for spelling. Why can’t our people do that?” Why indeed.

“We must take a hard look at the systemic failures that occurred with this latest attack,” Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security panel, said in an understatement.

For all our high-tech resources, we’re failing to keep terrorists off U.S. flights. Then, we’re failing to question them effectively before they clam up while in the ordinary criminal justice system. All this is asking for another 9/11.

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