ABDULMUTALLAB ‘HAS BEEN COOPERATING’…. Over the weekend, in the official Republican weekly address, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who really ought to know better, blasted the Obama administration’s handling of the Abdulmutallab case. She was particularly incensed by “the irresponsible, indeed dangerous, decision on Abdulmutallab’s interrogation.”
Now, I can appreciate political opportunism as much as the next blogger. I can even understand trying to take advantage of a perceived weakness.
But these criticisms are just absurd. The Obama administration has not only dealt with the Abdulmutallab case by the book, but it’s also had considerable success that even Republicans should be satisfied with.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit on Dec. 25, started talking to investigators after two of his family members arrived in the United States and helped earn his cooperation, a senior administration official said Tuesday evening.
Mr. Abdulmutallab, 23, began speaking to F.B.I. agents last week in Detroit and has not stopped, two government officials said. The officials declined to disclose what information was obtained from him, but said it was aiding in the investigation of the attempted terrorist attack.
“With the family, the F.B.I. approached the suspect,” the senior administration official said, speaking to reporters at the White House on the condition of anonymity because of the pending legal case. “He has been cooperating for days.”
For weeks, conservative lawmakers, activists, and media personalities have insisted that the administration had made a terrible mistake — making Abdulmutallab aware of his rights, failing to interrogate the suspect, and neglecting to gain potentially valuable intelligence.
The talking points may make for spirited Fox News broadcasts, but they’re also at odds with reality.
“The intelligence gained has been disseminated throughout the intelligence community,” the official said, adding, “The best way to get him to talk was working with his family.”
Another federal official said Mr. Abdulmutallab had provided information about people he met in Yemen, where he is believed to have receiving training and explosives from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a branch of the terrorist network.
“He’s retracing his activities over there,” said the official, who would discuss the case only on the condition of anonymity. “You run to ground what he tells you, validate it and follow up. You build a relationship. It’s a pretty standard process.”
Imagine that. The right’s bed-wetting notwithstanding, the Obama administration handing the matter exactly as it should, and the current approach has “been very successful.”
Conservatives have been on the offensive, but they’ve been attacking from a position of weakness and ignorance. This isn’t the way to improve already-suspect credibility on national security matters.