Friday, January 8, 2010

Could the CIA attack in Afghanistan have been prevented?

We will never know what information we might have gleaned from a thorough interrogation of Flight 253 terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  Instead, as Charles Krauthammer so aptly put it, "We are now forced to purchase information from this attempted terrorist in the coin of leniency. Absurdly, Abdulmutallab is now in control."

Andy McCarthy lays bare the costs of Eric Holder's rush to indict Abdulmutallab at National Review Online:  
Eric Holder’s Justice Department rushed to file an indictment Wednesday against Flight 253 terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The telling document is a monument to lost opportunity. Come hell or high water, the Obama administration will press ahead with its commitment to treat al-Qaeda’s war against the United States as a crime wave best managed by the federal courts.

“Al-Qaeda,” in fact, is a term you will not find in the bare-bones, seven-page charging instrument. Nor will you encounter such words as “Yemen,” “jihad,” “terrorism” — neither “Islamic” or “Islamist.” And if you’re looking for the names of any co-conspirators — such as the al-Qaeda satellite (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) that has publicly claimed credit for the attempted Christmas Day atrocity, or the enemy combatants who’ve been running that outfit since their improvident release from Gitmo — you’d best look elsewhere. [snip]

He’d been training with al-Qaeda for weeks in Yemen, now one of the hottest hubs of terror plotting. He was undoubtedly in a position to identify who had recruited him, who had dispatched him on his mission, and who had trained him in fashioning and detonating chemical explosives. He was in a position to tell us what al-Qaeda knows, that Janet Napolitano apparently doesn’t, about our porous airline-security system. He was, moreover, almost certainly in a position to pinpoint paramilitary training facilities, to tell us about other al-Qaeda trainees being taught to do what he was trying to do, and to fill many gaps in our knowledge of the terror network’s hierarchy, routines, and governmental connections in Yemen.
And guess who lives in Yemen.  According to the Washington Post, Yemen is crawling with "former" colleagues of Osama Bin Laden.  Take for instance, his former bodyguard:
When he served in the Afghan mountains as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, Nasser al-Bahri said, he was known as "The Killer." Today, Bahri is a business consultant in Yemen who favors Western-style pinstriped shirts, crisp slacks and black loafers. But his ideas are still radical: Ask him whether jihadists should kill Americans on U.S. soil and he replies without hesitation, "America is a legitimate target."
His former spiritual adviser and his former personal secretary are also there:
Abdul Majid al-Zindani, bin Laden's former spiritual adviser, whom the United States has classified as a terrorist, is the most powerful religious figure here today. Senior Yemeni officials both fear him and seek his support. Nasser al-Wuhayshi -- bin Laden's former personal secretary -- is the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. officials believe trained Abdulmutallab and equipped him with chemical explosives.
U.S. intelligence sources believe that the December 30th attack that killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan was planned by Osama Bin Laden's inner circle.  The question that has been nagging at my heart all week is this:  If Abdulmutallab had been rigorously interrogated or even waterboarded before sundown on Christmas day, could that attack have possibly been prevented? We will never know that either.

McCarthy points out that it is not too late for the President to reconsider his position and possibly thwart the next attack:
President Obama could have designated Abdulmutallab an enemy combatant, detained him as a war prisoner, denied him counsel, and had him interrogated until we’d exhausted his reservoir of information. Indeed, the president could still do that. He could direct the attorney general to table the indictment. Then, some time down the road, he could hand Abdulmutallab back to the Justice Department for prosecution. No, we wouldn’t be able to use the fruits of his military interrogation against him. But as the indictment filed Wednesday shows, we don’t need those statements to convict him. We could convict him now.

To protect the United States, though, we don’t need Abdulmutallab’s conviction. We need his information. Wednesday’s indictment demonstrates what two weeks of Obama’s amateur-hour performance have suggested all along: We don’t have it.

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