Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 2, 2010

REID WAS MIRANDIZED, TOO.... It's rare to get two cases of attempted terrorism that have as many parallels as the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab plot last year and the Richard Reid plot in 2001. It's a straight-up apples-to-apples comparison.

Reid and Abdulmutallab used the same chemical, the same target, the same intended consequence, in same month of the year, with the same twisted ideology. They were both stopped by civilians. Reid's attempt happened when Bush was away from the White House; Abdulmutallab's attempt happened when Obama was away from the White House. (The only difference between the presidential responses was Obama reacting to the attempted attack more forcefully, more seriously, and with more depth than his predecessor.)

And the closer we look at the similarities, the dumber Republican talking points appear.

Republicans may have a hard time keeping up their talking point about how reading Miranda rights to the Christmas Day bomber represented a dangerous new direction under President Barack Obama.

It turns out that that back in December 2001, Richard Reid -- the "shoe bomber" -- was read or reminded of his Miranda rights four times in two days, beginning five minutes after being taken into custody.

Furthermore, the Bush administration specifically rejected the idea of a military tribunal.

Just six weeks ago, law enforcement officials informed Abdulmutallab of his rights "only after ... Abdulmutallab had stopped talking to authorities." This, according to Republican attack dogs, is outrageous -- he shouldn't have been read his rights at all. The Obama administration, they argue, is treating Abdulmutallab like the criminal he is, rather than the Super Threat that Republicans prefer him to be.

But in 2001, law enforcement officials informed Reid of his rights five minutes after he was taken into custody. And then again two hours later. And then again three hour later.

I know this reality is all terribly inconvenient for Republicans. Facts just keep getting in the way of a perfectly misleading narrative.

But at this point, the GOP and its allies have a choice. Either they can explain why they were entirely silent when Bush handled the Reid case the same way Obama has handled the Abdulmutallab incident, or they can shut up and accept the fact that they've been acting like shameless, transparent, dishonest hacks.

I'm especially interested in hearing Liz Cheney trash her own father's administration for the way it handled the case of an attempted terrorist attack. Go ahead, Liz, we're all ears.

Steve Benen 3:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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"...[the GOP] can shut up and accept the fact that they've been acting like shameless, transparent, dishonest hacks."

Hahahaha!!! Oh, Steve. You kill me.

Posted by: Reverend on February 2, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

No one practices doublethink like today's Republican.

They'll just squeal, "It's not the same at all!" and go on to another attack on Obama and the Dems. No one will follow up with a 'why' or a 'can you explain that'. And outside of a few shrill lefty blogs, no one will notice.

Posted by: Gummo on February 2, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Not the same at all. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a much scarier sounding name than Richard Reid. QED.

Posted by: cb72 on February 2, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

When I read the headline I thought you were talking about HARRY Reid.
I know some people want him dumped as Majority Leader or voted out of office but I didn't think they had arrested him.

Posted by: Art Hackett on February 2, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

If they were so consistent they couldn't call themselves "patriots".

Posted by: lou on February 2, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

The only people on the face of the planet who can't see their own hatred for this administration are the idiots who are making the arguments that directly contridict the arguments they themselves have made time and again up until Barak Obama became our 44th president.

What a bunch of raw nerve cowards these Republicans who go by such names as Boehner and McConnell are! What a bunch of hogwash these cowards want us to be doused with!

With every passing moment, the leadership in the party that calls itself Republican is piddling away plausible ways it could find itself actually being relevant in our national problem-solving discourse. Yet, they haven't a clue as to the damage they are causing by the unhinged rhetoric they allow to be used in their name!

Let's face it, Boehner and McConnell need to be TeaBagged in the traditional sense of the term! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 2, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone ever point out that between Obama's and Bush's counterterrorism strategies, Obama's is the only one that has good long term prospects? In a country ruled by law, an illegal strategy will be gradually whittled away by the courts and brought to a halt by the next president. A legal strategy will only be strengthened over time and will be impossible for future presidents to overturn.

Bush's policy was a huge blunder on so many levels: morally abhorrent, ineffective, a pr nightmare, short term strategically obtuse, long term strategically ... you'd almost think they wanted it to fail long term.

Posted by: Boronx on February 2, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

The difference in the two incidents is obvious: the president is black, and the terrorist is black. This changes everything.

Posted by: earthtones on February 2, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

The number 1 reason that the GOP talking points are completely moronic is that it is completely unworkable to treat every airline incident as an act of terrorism BEFORE you attempt to interrogate a suspect.

You can't assume that every incident on a plane involves an act of terrorism. You can't even assume that an apparent foreigner won't later claim, e.g. under dual citizenship, that the Bill of Rights apply.

IOW, there is little downside to Mirandizing suspects from the get go and deciding later on whether to risk the exclusion of evidence from a criminal prosecution. OTOH, there is enormous risk to assuming, minutes or even a few hours after an incident, that a suspect can be detained and/or charged as an foreign enemy combatant: You risk compromising a traditional criminal prosecution.

If the so-called terrorist, who on first appearance appeared to be an Al Qaeda-trained operative, just turns out to be a depressed and mentally unstable nutjob then you won't be able to try him as an enemy combatant AND you may have prevented the admissibility of a confession at a criminal trial.

Posted by: square1 on February 2, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

The difference is that the Reid bombing happened before "24" changed public perceptions of who terrorists are and how they should be treated by law enforcement.

I'm serious about this. The caricature created by Republicans of the super-terrorist-enemy-of-the-state-who-must-be-tortured-or-we-all-get-vaporized really is directly out of the entertainment industry, and "24" (which debuted in Nov 2001) has been at the forefront of creating this image and pounding it into gullible Americans' heads, week after week, for more than eight years. Before "24" there were grownup law enforcement and security professionals who understood what our justice system can and can't do to protect us, and politicians didn't bother to interfere in the mechanics of law enforcement (well, not much) because it was obvious that, for its flaws, our system was getting the essential things right. Now everyone just assumes that if you don't want things to work like in "24", you're a naive wimp. I

t's hard to measure the damage that show (which is mostly a damn good piece of fiction) has done to our legal system and the rule of law.

Posted by: Basilisc on February 2, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

but...but..Obama is taking our country in a dangerous new direction.

We can't handle the fact that his skin pigmentation has a higher level of melanin in it than real Americans, especially ones clearly born in the good ol' USA, and his cognitive processes generally don't resonate with our slower brains.

That's why his reading Miranda to the panty bomber is so scary.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 2, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Funny little detail that seems to have escaped the Republicans (and most of the MSM (not surprisingly)) yelling for tribunals and torture. A sizable percentage of what we know about this plot has been coming directly from Abdulmutallab's own mouth during the interogation sessions he's been subjected to.

That's right, even after mirandizing him, after providing him with access to a lawyer and without waterboarding him, the FBI and local lawenforcement have been getting a ton of useful information for Abdulmutallab. All of it obtained legally and in the full light of day.

Which again, beg's the question, what exactly are the Republicans afraid of? Oh, that's right, lossing the campaign issue.

Posted by: thorin-1 on February 2, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Reality does not matter to Republicans, or - increasingly - to the electorate. There's absolutely zero satisfaction in being right if the only ones who realize it are you and a few skulking lefty friends, while everyone else regards you with a mixture of scorn and pity. Whoever is loudest is rightest.

The problem is rooted in political ideology. As long as Republicans care more about naked power and imposition of their will than about what is best for Americans individually, their campaigns against candidates, against bills, against ideas will be all or nothing, take no prisoners. There is no way to fight such a threat without becoming like it.

When those tactics stop working, Republicans will abandon them. Unfortunately, as long as a substantial portion of the public still cannot conceive of being lied to by a Republican politician, there's no danger of that.

Posted by: Mark on February 2, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK


Harry? He was framed.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 2, 2010 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama wouldn't be such a terrist lover he would have immediately interrupted his vacation in Hawaii and would have personally checked the underwear of every swarty flight passenger in every airport in the US. He didn't! That's all we need to know.

Posted by: eserwe on February 2, 2010 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Um, excuse me but, doesn't the fact that Christmas boy wasn't mirandized before questioning make his pre-miranda statements inadmissable in court?

Was he allowed acces to an attorney? If not, how does that impact his prosecution?

I know the govt. has a shitload of evidence of his guilt outside of such statements but, is anyone else bothered by the sloppy post arrest police work.

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 2, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

To quote that House Republican on PBS the other night, "Facts are pesky things."

Posted by: Kurt on February 2, 2010 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'm especially interested in hearing Liz Cheney trash her own father's administration for the way it handled the case of an attempted terrorist attack.

Liz can skip the talk shows on Sunday, I will summarize for her here: "That happened too soon after 9/11 for the former administration of my daddy to fully realize the grave dangers lurking for America. Now they know so there is no excuse. This administration is incompetent and filled with traitors. 9/11! 9/11! 9/11!!!!"

Now John McCain can take Liz's place and explain why teh gay in the military is to be feared even more than Ay-rab terrorists.

Posted by: GringoNoraca on February 2, 2010 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

I am so sorry Barack Obama was elected our president!
This administration has falted on so many areas of our jurisdiction.
You can blame the GOP all you want but you better keep your eyes on the libertarians.
Get your heads out of the sand all you progressive liberals! America is getting back to its roots and sorry to say I don't think that will include your liberal philosophy.

Posted by: Tina on February 2, 2010 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

"This administration has falted on so many areas of our jurisdiction".

What the hell does that even mean?

Posted by: Mark on February 2, 2010 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

They don't have to explain anything. Because no one will ask them.

Posted by: Bob Mahnken on February 2, 2010 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

"This administration has falted on so many areas of our jurisdiction".

What the hell does that even mean?
Posted by: Mark on February 2, 2010 at 8:34

It means that Teabaggers don't care for education -- public or otherwise.

Posted by: exlibra on February 2, 2010 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Get your heads out of the sand all you progressive liberals! America is getting back to its roots and sorry to say I don't think that will include your liberal philosophy."

So libertarians want to abolish Amendments 11 through 27 of the U.S. Constitution?

Posted by: 2Manchu on February 2, 2010 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe libertarians just scrap the whole Constitution and reinstitute the Articles of Confederation?

Posted by: 2Manchu on February 2, 2010 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Tina" is a moron.

Posted by: Patrick Starr on February 2, 2010 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Were both men citizens of the United States? I would think a citizen of the USA acting with terrorist intentions would have more rights than a foreign national doing the same thing. One would be tried in criminal court as their right but if another might be employed by a foreign government to make it look like terrorism.

Don't for a second think that other countries who hate us wouldn't use situations like this to see what they could learn about our security. We do actually have enemies who hate us because they hate us.

Posted by: Orwell on February 3, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Were both men citizens of the United States? I would think a citizen of the USA acting with terrorist intentions would have more rights than a foreign national doing the same thing.

You would be wrong. The Constitution provides criminal due process protections to all persons, without regard to their citizenship status, in the US criminal justice system. This has been established and upheld in numerous court cases going back over a hundred years.

Posted by: Stefan on February 3, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

It was the libertarians who wanted everyone mirandized in the first place. They also opposed the war and the patriot act. Helllooo, that's why they are called libertarians.

Sure, they oppose dens on entitlements and taxes, but on these issues, there is common ground.

Posted by: Rico on February 3, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Why are all defenses of Obama a Noun+Verb+Bush? Bush was an idiot . Mirandizing these terrorists is insane.

Posted by: Dennis D on February 3, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

The US Constitution was created to protect " We the people" of the United States. The founders intent was not granting these protections to foriegn enemies. During the War of 1812 many of the founders were still alive and none rejected the holding of English POWs without trial.

Posted by: Dennis D on February 3, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

@Winkandanod: It wasn't sloppy police work. They intentionally let him talk for a bit without pointing out he could shut up so they could get whatever info he might have that might help in terms of disrupting other plots, if any. They knew his statements wouldn't be admissible in court, and rightly decided their possible intelligence value was more important. Yes, the very thing idiots are demanding they should have done, interrogate him without reading his rights, is what they did.

@Orwell, @Stefan, @Dennis D: Neither man was a US citizen, a fact readily available from almost any source.

@Denis D: Nobody ever has objected to holding POWs without a trial; POWs are not criminals. We put the two idiots in question on trial because they are criminals, not soldiers. People who say we should not read their rights or put them on trial are saying they are not criminals, that their actions are legitimate, legal acts of war. I don't know why you agree with the terrorists on this, but you're both wrong.

Posted by: Rob on February 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dennis D: POWs are held without trial. This is because they have committed no crime.

Further, if you actually read the caselaw, statutes and secondary and tertiary documents (the Federalist/Anti-federalist papers, newspaper accounts of things like the treatment of Copperheads, the Alien and Sedition Act, the Sedition Act used in WW1, etc) you will see the Constitution makes assertions as to the rights of Persons/people, and Citizens.

Rights against self-incrimination, unreasonable search and siezure, etc. are reserved to people/persons, not citizens.

So, in short, you are wrong. The Framers did intend for everyone to be covered by those rights, and the courts (those less in recent year as Reagan, and then the Bushes have used Chief Justice retirements to skew the court even further to the right) have made clear just what the needs are to ensure those rights.

The, "We the People" is predicate language, and not binding. It explains who is doing the thing, and the aims of it. It does not limit a single thing, nor does it descibe an exclusive class of persons to be covered.

If you want to go back the "original conditions" and ignore what has happened since, you can remove the Supreme Court as arbiter of what the Constiution means, reinstiture poll taxes/reading tests, reestablish a property requirement for voting, etc..

Trust me, you wouldn't like living under such a regime.

To quote Thomas Paine (one of the great figures in the iconography of the Patriots, Teabaggers and Libertarians) He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.

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