MCCONNELL TRASHES FBI, COUNTER-TERRORISM OFFICIALS…. Congressional Republicans really thought they were on to something. All they had to say was that the Obama administration mishandled Abdulmutallab’s failed terrorist plot and undermined our national security interests.
The GOP attacks quickly fell apart when confronted with reality. Republicans said officials only interrogated Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes. That turned out to be untrue. Republicans said he “stopped talking” after having been told of his rights. That turned out to be untrue. Republicans said Abdulmutallab began cooperating “in the context of plea negotiations.” That turned out to be untrue. Republicans said there “was no consultation with intelligence officials” about the questioning. That turned out to be untrue.
And now that the entire offensive against the administration has turned out to be a rather pathetic joke, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has decided to trash FBI officials. Here’s what McConnell told Fox News:
“This was a person who was trying to blow a plane out of the air from Nigeria. It’s clearly a case for the military and for our intelligence people, not for the U.S. court system. What happened? He was given a 50 minute interrogation, probably Larry King has interrogated people longer and better than that.”
In Grown-Up Land, McConnell doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The federal law enforcement officials who have interrogated Abdulmutallab have actually done a fantastic job, and have had considerable success acquiring valuable, actionable intelligence. FBI and other counter-terrorism officials deserve the nation’s thanks.
But instead they’re getting blasted and ridiculed by the top Republican in the Senate. As Adam Serwer explained, McConnell’s remarks are “unconscionable”: “The men and women of the FBI put themselves on the line every day to protect the people of the United States from terrorist attacks, while politicians like McConnell puff out their chests and act like tough guys. They don’t deserve to be disparaged by some high-ranking politician groping for a talking point on cable news. McConnell owes the men and women of the FBI an apology.”
Quite right. I’d just add that in May, Speaker Pelosi said the CIA had misled Congress years ago on the use of waterboarding. She happened to be right, but Republicans were apoplectic about the remarks, and said the House Speaker had “gone to war” with the CIA. Fox News and Newt Gingrich, among others, suggested Pelosi should resign over the comments. The media establishment treated this as a huge political story for weeks.
Seven months later, Mitch McConnell casually mocks officials who’ve put their lives on the line to keep Americans safe, and who’ve done excellent work on a difficult case. Where’s the outrage?