Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Extraordinary Incompetence"

Barack Obama should call Scott Brown again -- not to congratulate him, but to thank him for guaranteeing that this extraordinary incompetence does not get the coverage it deserves.

Steve Hayes (Weekly Standard)

So how did President Obama show his unfitness for his job this time?

Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security Committee grilled three top Obama administration national security officials - Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; Michael Leiter, chairman of the National Counterterrorism Center; and Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence. FBI Director Robert Mueller was also questioned.

Among the remarkable revelations that emerged from the committee session were :

None of the four officials were contacted to determine how to proceed with handling the case of the would be Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab;

There was no plan in place on how to treat a terrorist captured on U.S. soil;

The High-value Interrogation Group, [HIG], proposed one year ago to decide how to manage cases just like Abdulmutallab's was not up and running;

Blair did not even know it wasn't operational;

The questioning by the FBI in Detroit was carried out by agents largely ignorant about counter-terrorist matters - there was no co-ordination with National Counterterrorism Center which had substantial information about the bomber. Lacking this information, the agents didn't know the right questions to ask;

The questioning was carried out with the goal of gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution, not to obtain vital counter-terrorist intelligence;

At some point short of 24 hours from the time of his capture, Abdulmutallab was read his Miranda rights and stopped talking.

Senator Jeff Sessions, summing up the Committee proceedings noted that,

...we learned from FBI Director Mueller's questioning that responsibility for the decision to switch gears from intelligence collection to criminal processing lies with an unnamed high-ranking official at the Department of Justice.

Who might this high-ranking DOJ official be? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asks that and other important questions.

First, why were Miranda rights given to the obvious terrorist after only a brief session of questioning, which predictably ended his cooperation?

Second, at what level of authority was this decision taken to treat him as a criminal defendant instead of an unlawful enemy combatant? Who made this decision?

I asked this question last night of John Brennan, the President’s senior counterterrorism adviser, three times and he refused to answer. I think that the Senate is entitled to know precisely who authorized this.

A year ago the President decided to revise the Nation’s interrogation policies, and to restrict the CIA’s ability to question terrorists. The administration created a High Value Detainee Interrogation Group to question terrorists. Why wasn’t his group brought in once this terrorist was taken into custody?

Steve Hayes has a few other questions.

Does Brennan know who made those crucial decisions on Abdulmutallab?

If not, why not?

And if so, what reason would he have for refusing to share that information with McConnell?

It's apparent from all this that the Obama administration is scrambling to spin or even cover up the process behind its amateurish handling of the Abdulmutallab case. I'm very curious to see how high up the DOJ hierarchy was the decision made to Mirandize Abdulmutallab. Who's being protected? Mr. Holder perhaps?

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