Another GOP talking point bites the dust

ANOTHER GOP TALKING POINT BITES THE DUST…. As part of the GOP effort to attack the administration’s handling of the Abdulmutallab case, the president’s detractors have gone through a variety of arguments. One of their favorites is the notion that federal officials read the attempted terrorist his rights after just 50 minutes of interrogation, and then the suspect stopped talking.

We’ve known for quite a while that the latter half of the claim is wrong — Abdulmutallab didn’t stop talking at all. We’re also learning that the first half of the claim is wrong, too.

The 23-year-old Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day was read his Miranda rights nine hours after his arrest, according to a detailed chronology released Sunday by senior administration officials.

The timing of events during the arrest, initial interrogation and medical treatment of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was made available after Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) made statements about the process that administration officials believe are misleading. “It makes no sense to get a guy off an airplane who just tried to blow up the airplane and read him his rights within 50 minutes,” Graham said in an interview on Fox News.

Graham is one of several Republicans who have cited the handling of Abdulmutallab as an example of what they see as the administration’s faulty response to a terrorist assault on a U.S. airliner. On Feb. 3, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the American people and Congress wanted to know “why an al-Qaeda-trained terrorist fresh from Yemen and caught in the act of an attempt to blow up an airliner was handed over to a lawyer after a 50-minute interview.”

Where does the “50-minute” claim come from? Apparently, officials began to question Abdulmutallab soon after he was taken into custody, but physicians said his condition had deteriorated and that the interrogation would have to be delayed. Five hours later, the questioning began again. Eventually, Abdulmutallab refused to cooperate — he had been trained not to answer questions — and at that point, officials made him aware of his Miranda rights.

Why on earth would conservative Republicans find this objectionable? Will every GOP voice who got this wrong now apologize?

Also keep in mind, when the Bush/Cheney administration took shoe bomber Richard Reid into custody, he was read his rights five minutes after being taken off the plane he tried to blow up. Funny, I don’t recall Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, or any of the usual GOP suspects whining incessantly at the time. I wonder why that is.

It’s been nearly seven weeks since the failed Christmas-day plot, and Republicans have made a wide variety of criticisms. I’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on developments, and at this point, I honestly can’t think of a single claim that has stood up to scrutiny. Some of the arguments have proven to be blatant lies, while others are the result of confusion and ignorance, but literally nothing has panned out for the GOP — on what’s supposed to be their signature issue.

MSNBC reported last week, “[A]t what point do you start losing the P.R. war when the facts aren’t on your side?” Good question.

Spencer Ackerman added, “The GOP, for the first time in decades, is completely discredited on national security.” We should be so lucky.