Collins still can’t admit her mistake

COLLINS STILL CAN’T ADMIT HER MISTAKE…. For reasons that are still unclear, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has decided to take a leadership role in going after the Obama administration’s handling of the attempted Abdulmutallab attack. So far, this hasn’t gone especially well.

Collins said officials only interrogated Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes. That was wrong. She said Abdulmutallab “stopped talking” after having been told of his rights. That was wrong. Collins suggested Abdulmutallab only began cooperating “in the context of plea negotiations.” That was wrong. She said there “was no consultation with intelligence officials” about the questioning. And that was wrong .

More recently, Collins has emphasized her outrage over the Obama administration’s decision to make Abdulmutallab aware of his rights (the same step taken by the Bush/Cheney administration in a nearly identical terrorist plot in 2001). Except, she, too, was briefed on the arrest by a top Homeland Security official, and raised no concerns about the legal process.

This afternoon, a Collins spokesperson, without a hint of irony, accused the Obama administration of trying to cover its “mistake.”

It is offensive, to Senator Collins and the American people, that the Obama Administration is more concerned with political spin to cover a mistake than with taking the actions urgently needed to improve our nation’s security. Clearly, the Administration is trying to divert attention from the fact that it interrogated a foreign terrorist for less than one hour before the Justice Department unilaterally decided to Mirandize him and he stopped talking.

Senator Collins calls on the Obama Administration to immediately change its policies and ensure consultation with top intelligence and security officials before treating the capture of the next foreign terrorist as only a civilian law enforcement matter. She will continue to press for her bipartisan legislation that mandates this consultation.

When we cut through the nonsense and cheap talking points, what we’re left with is Collins, after making a series of demonstrably false claims, complaining that the Justice Department didn’t coordinate further with other agencies on how best to deal with Abdulmutallab. That’s it. That’s all that’s left from the original argument.

But, again, this is foolish. For one thing, the Obama administration has applied the exact same procedures as Bush/Cheney, and Collins never expressed this outrage before. For another, as Attorney General Eric Holder explained last week, “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.”

What we’re left with, then, is Susan Collins making a mistake by falsely criticizing the administration, and then digging deeper with a series of even more absurd false criticisms.

She should have quit while she was behind. As this story has dragged on, Collins has sounded less like a reasonable, moderate, influential senator and more like a rookie House member trying to impress Fox News producers. As Josh Marshall noted recently, Collins’ criticisms have turned her into something of “an embarrassment.”