Ever since the Christmas Day bomber stopped talking after being read his rights, President Obama and his national security team have been defending their decision to treat him as a criminal rather than an enemy combatant by saying that the Bush administration handled terrorism suspects the same way.
“But I think that the most important thing for the public to understand is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11,” Obama told Katie Couric.
In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said, “The Bush administration used the criminal justice system to convict more than 300 individuals on terrorism-related charges.”
In particular, Holder and White House officials have cited the fact that the Bush administration gave the same rights to shoe bomber Richard Reid as to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after his arrest in Detroit.
The comparisons are misleading. Reid was arrested three months after 9/11, before the Bush administration had established military tribunals and procedures for dealing with such threats outside of civilian courts. And unlike the case of Abdulmutallab, nearly all the terrorism convictions that Obama and Holder cited involved U.S. citizens or more minor actors who were not believed to have knowledge of imminent threats.
The fact that Abdulmutallab resumed talking five weeks after being read his Miranda rights is testimony to the persuasive powers of FBI agents. But in those five weeks, the U.S. government lost the chance to roll up or kill overseas suspects whose locations Abdulmutallab may have pinpointed.
In his letter, Holder reassured McConnell that the option of detaining Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant in the U.S. military system was discussed in the days following the arrest, including at a Jan. 5 meeting that included Obama and senior members of the national security team.
“No agency supported the use of law of war detention for Abdulmutallab, and no agency has since advised the Department of Justice that an alternative course of action should have been, or should now be, pursued,’’ the attorney general wrote.
Subsequently, the heads of the relevant agencies — FBI, CIA, Director of National Intelligence, and Homeland Security — all testified that they were not consulted about the decision when it was made.
More recently, John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism chief, claimed that he briefed Republican congressional leaders on Christmas night about the arrest and subsequent handling of Abdulmutallab.
“None of those individuals raised any concerns with me, at that point,” Brennan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They didn’t say, ‘Is he going into military custody? Is he going to be Mirandized?’ They were very appreciative of the information. We told them we’d keep them informed. And that’s what we did.”
Now it turns out that, according to all four leaders, Brennan merely said that Abdulmutallab had been arrested and said nothing about how the case would be handled.
“Can anyone take seriously the White House’s assertion that it consulted with Republicans when President Obama didn’t even consult his own director of National Intelligence, FBI director, or Homeland Security secretary concerning Abdulmutallab?” Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., one of those briefed, has said.
Obama came into office refusing to refer to the war on terror. He had no qualms about putting New York City at risk by deciding to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed there. Now it turns out he and his national security team routinely mislead Congress and the American people to cover up their own mistakes.
In my view, such an administration cannot be trusted with protecting America.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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