Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama interrogators have fewer tools than local police

Marc Theissen makes the case today at the National Review, that Abdulmutallab could have been more appropriately interrogated by the Detroit Police Department than by the FBI or the not-ready-for-prime-time High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG):

As I explain in Courting Disaster, even if the HIG were “fully operational,” we might be better off with Abdulmutallab in the hands of the Detroit Police Department — because under the rules established by the Obama administration, local law-enforcement officials actually have more tools at their disposal to interrogate common criminals than our military and intelligence officials have to interrogate captured terrorists. The Obama administration has limited the techniques available to the HIG to those contained in the Army Field Manual — a document that governs the interrogation of enemy prisoners of war with full Geneva Convention protections — even though there is a wide universe of lawful techniques beyond those included in the Army Field Manual that could be used to question high-value terrorists.

Local police use techniques beyond the Army Field Manual every day. For example, police detectives and district attorneys regularly use the threat of execution to get ordinary criminals to confess — offering to take capital punishment off the table if a criminal cops a plea or turns in his accomplices. Under the Army Field Manual this is not permitted; detainees cannot be threatened in any way. In other words, President Obama has so denuded our intelligence agencies’ interrogation capabilities that putting the HIG in charge of his interrogation would likely have been a useless exercise.
This is unbelievable.  On his second day in office, President Obama eliminated the CIA interrogation program under which the Bush administration stopped multiple terror attacks before they occurred.  He replaced it with the HIG which one year later is still not operational.

Senators Lieberman, Collins and Sessions are demanding that the President revoke Abdulmutallab's civilian status and transfer him to military custody.  From Fox News:

Citing reports that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was "speaking openly about the attack" and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's involvement in it before he was read his Miranda rights, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins said that reading the suspect his rights shortly after his arrest was an opportunity lost.

Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Collins, R-Maine, the committee's ranking Republican, said officials would be able to continue interrogating Abdulmutallab and try him before a military commission if they treat him as an enemy combatant.

"The decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal rather than (an unprivileged enemy belligerent) almost certainly prevented the military and the intelligence community from obtaining information that would have been critical to learning more about how our enemy operates and to preventing future attacks," the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.

"Though the president has said repeatedly that we are at war, it does not appear to us that the president's words are reflected in the actions of some in the executive branch, including some at the Department of Justice," they wrote.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., also released a written statement Monday urging Obama to revoke Abdulmutallab's "civilian status," saying the administration "squandered an invaluable opportunity to gather intelligence from a captured terrorist fresh from Al Qaeda's operation in Yemen."

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