Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 3, 2010

COLLINS FALLS, KEEPS DIGGING.... We're supposed to be able to expect a certain degree of rationality from "moderates" like Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine. When truly unhinged senators like DeMint and Inhofe make incoherent, blatantly false remarks, no one bats an eye. When Collins does it, reasonable people start wondering if Republicans will ever be able to recover from their current condition.

On Saturday, Collins delivered the official GOP weekly address, and blasted the Obama administration's handling of the Abdulmutallab case. She claimed, in prepared text, that officials only questioned the attempted terrorist for 50 minutes before he was read his rights and "he stopped talking." She proceeded to use some absurd, Giuliani-like rhetoric, as if she were just another Republican hack.

We've since learned that Collins was completely, demonstrably, unambiguously wrong. The administration handled the matter exactly as Bush/Cheney did, but unlike Bush/Cheney, Obama's team actually got results. Thanks to this administration's strategy, the attempted terrorist didn't "stop talking," but rather has been "cooperating for days" with U.S. officials. Abdulmutallab has in fact produced valuable, actionable intelligence.

OK, so Collins was wrong. We all make mistakes. She can show some contrition, express her relief that Obama's approach is helping improve our national security, and we can all move on. Collins's reputation would be a little worse for wear, but it can recover.

But, no. Collins refuses to back down -- even though we know she was completely wrong -- and keeps digging herself deeper. Asked to explain the discrepancy between her claims and reality, Collins issued a statement to MSNBC:

"I remain concerned that there was no consultation with intelligence officials before the Department of Justice unilaterally decided to treat Abdulmutallab as if he were an ordinary criminal. If Abdulmutallab is now talking in the context of plea negotiations, that is, of course, welcome, but it implies that the government is willing to grant him a measure of leniency for the information he is willing to provide. We will never know whether the quality and quantity of information might have been superior had he not been given a lawyer who is now guiding him on what to reveal and what not to disclose. The lack of coordination on the front end and the inexplicable, reflexive choice to use a law enforcement approach were dangerous decisions."


Is Abdulmutallab "now talking in the context of plea negotiations" as Collins suggests? No, she just made that up, and the Justice Department has offered him nothing in exchange for information.

Did we lose valuable "information" by reading the attempted terrorist his rights? No. The FBI interrogated Abdulmutallab, then read him his rights, and then got lots of additional information.

Collins is now clinging to the notion that there "was no consultation with intelligence officials," but what she may not realize is that the FBI is actually pretty good at this, and there was no reason for the Justice Department to "consult" with other agencies. [Update: Also note, Collins has her facts wrong on this, too.]

Honestly, Collins is coming across as a rookie, right-wing House member, more interested in getting on Fox News than seeming credible. Josh Marshall concluded today that Collins has ended up looking like "an embarrassment."

Steve Benen 4:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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I think what Collins is getting at is that we didn't hand Abdulmutallab over to Jack Bauer so he could get the whereabouts of Bin Laden in between commercial breaks. Had the FBI red-tapers not gotten in the way, the War on Terror would now be wrapping up and we'd all be a heckeva lot safer.

Sure, the FBI has been getting info for the past few days, but Jack Bauer would have done it in one.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on February 3, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Has WM/PA sent this article to the "Liberal Media" for a response? I want to see the responses to charges of blatant misinformation sold to us without pushback. Does this blog not have some inside contacts with the media that it can ask for responses to lies? All I read here is the complaints that we are being fed lies with no pushback. It seems no one here who has some leverage is pushing back. There seem to be no consequences to lying to the public, congress or anyone else. I thought there were laws to this effect. Wasn't Clinton impeached for lying to congress?

It Sucks!

Posted by: st john on February 3, 2010 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall concluded today that Collins has ended up look like "an embarrassment."

Collins is a Republican, so she cannot be wrong; if her words don't match reality, our perception of reality must be adjusted to match her description, and Fox & friends are happy to comply. What Josh Marshall thinks is not as important in this mission as what O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh conclude.

Posted by: qwerty on February 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, as the person who delivered the 'official Republican Party' weekly address, Collins realized she had to say something stupid, false, and easily refuted.

Posted by: MattF on February 3, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

We have a choice, we can treat al Qaeda as a criminal organization, in which case we are engaged in a conflict with 100,000 or so of its members and supports.

Or we can treat this as a WAR, in which case we are engaged in a conflict with MILLIONS of people.

The Republican'ts aren't willing to tax Americans to support their war, they should stop complaining that we handle this as the criminal enterprise that it is.

Posted by: Lance on February 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I remain concerned that there was no consultation with intelligence officials...

Who the hell does she think the FBI is if not intelligence officials?

Posted by: doubtful on February 3, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Facts are for liberals.

Posted by: terraformer on February 3, 2010 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

If memory serves there was published report to the effect that there a consultation involving several agencies before it was decided to read the underpants bomber his rights.

Could somebody ask Collins for her source? Please?

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 3, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Collins is now clinging to the notion that there "was no consultation with intelligence officials"

Last I checked, the FBI is also an intelligence agency... Maybe the FBI forgot to consult with the Senator on which of our 18 intelligence agencies should have been primed?

Posted by: Darwin on February 3, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

OK, so Mainers are to my understanding a sort of ornery bunch, unwilling to let their political views be crammed in the proverbial tidy little box. What do we do to make sure every voter in the state of Maine knows that Collins is spewing this nonsense by election day in... looking it up.... (groan) 2014?

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on February 3, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Off topic, I know. I got to ask, WTF is a Sarah Failin add doing here? Is it snark, or are ya'll hard up for money?

Posted by: FreeThinkingRedneck on February 3, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I remained concerned that GOP Party Discipline will cause Republicans to reveal State's Secret's in an effort to embarrass President Obama whose major problem is remaining Commander in Chief and practicing Constitutional Democracy at the same time.

Posted by: bcinaz on February 3, 2010 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

My sense is that Collins, though reasonably secure in her job, is nowhere near as secure as she once was. In her mind the wolves are at the gate. She's merely burnishing her cred with her party's leaders - who are now by all accounts, clinically insane. She's useless baggage, as she has no ambition other than to do what is necessary to hang onto her job as a republican Senator.
The repubs may have rejected a formal purity test, but off the books, it's as real as real can be

Posted by: JoeW on February 3, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: JoeW on February 3, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Ditto what JoeW said!!

Posted by: Mark-NC on February 3, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

When I was a lad, I would take the opposite POV, no matter the subject. Just for the intellectual fun of jousting with my peers. And it was fun, to see just how deep a hole I could dig, before being forced to admit I was wrong. (The moon was NOT made of green cheese, after all)

But that was high school, and I moved on.

Senator Collins, get some help. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 3, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

She just had a little conversation with Tweety on Hardball and he acknowledged that "she had something there".

Posted by: wasa1 on February 3, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

From what I've read of about Abdulmuttalab, I was under the impression that he's been blabbing since his crotch fire was extinguished. He failed his mission and probably realized he was played for a sucker by the extremists who outfitted him with an explosive diaper before he left the plane.

Interrogation based on trust will get a better quality and quantity of actionable intelligence than fear ever can.

Posted by: schwag of tulsa on February 3, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Interrogation based on trust will get a better quality and quantity of actionable intelligence than fear ever can." schwag of tulsa @ 6:07 PM

That's right, take all the fun out of it!

Posted by: Doug on February 3, 2010 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Something else that I read about this Collins person is that she is claiming that Constitutional rights such as the Miranda rights are only for citizens. This claim, which even Scalia doesn't make, has been completely refuted by a reading of the Constitution and its use of the words "citizen" for things related to elections and qualifications for holding office and "person" for legal rights due to any human being. In addition looking at the history of the Supreme Court since the 1800's shows that the distinction was decided in favor of "person" long ago.

I have no idea what Collins has been smoking/snorting/drinking/shooting up.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 3, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

See, the problem is you people want to treat this jackass as a common criminal, when really he's a super villian. Here's the list of known supervillains:

Lex Luther
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
some guy with explosive panties
Doctor Octopus

oh wait, Lex Luther was a republican, so scratch him.

Posted by: Northzax on February 3, 2010 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

When is someone going to point out that prominent elected Republican officials are acting in a TREASONOUS manner to score political points.

By falsely claiming that the administration is mishandling Abdulmutallab and failing to get useful intelligence they put the administration in the position of having to choose between discussing the information they are getting and possibly alerting Abdulmutallab's allies/co-conspirator's or else allowing the Republican LIES to go unchallenged at a severe political cost to the Democratic party.

Of course, as has already been pointed out, the Republicans attacks on the President on this issue have also emboldened Al-Qaeda to consider this laughably pathetic, failed attack to be a succcess -- leadin gboth Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Osama Bin Laden to claim credit for it when they should have been ashamed to admit having anything to do with it. This just makes it that much more likely that they will try again soon.

It would be FAR better if everyone had shut the fuck up until after Abdulmutallab was tried and imprisoned, any intelligence we got from him was out of date and it was possible to do a real evaluation of whether or not we could have got more. But that wouldn't fit in with the Republicans desire to score political points on the President irregardless of the truth of their attacks or whether those attacks are putting the American public at risk.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 3, 2010 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's also worth noting in respect to the previous comment that a lot of the reports about how well the administrations handling of Abdulmutallab is working, is coming not from the White House but in anonymous reports from FBI agents involved in his interrogation or in chasing down the leads the interrogators are supplying.

In other words, the administration has been willing to accept some political damage in order to keep this under wraps but the people on the front lines as it were are getting pissed off at having their efforts denigrated by lying Republican blowhards.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 3, 2010 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Collins isn't up till '14, and has one of the safest seats in the Senate -- she beat a sitting Dem, representative in a blue state in a bad year for the GOP 60-40. She's doing this because she wants to.

My theory -- a (vice)presidential run in 2012.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 3, 2010 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

So how come Joe Liebertard hasn't come out and dissed his good friend Susan Collins? How come Liebertard couldn't whack some sense into his good friend Susie? How come he's not come out and defended Obama?

Posted by: warren terrah on February 3, 2010 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Davis X., you and I agree on a lot . . . but, there is absolutely no way Collins will ever appear on a national ticket. Let's just say that there has been, er, some speculation over the years as to, er, why she is a bachelorette.

(I personally don't give a damn either way about anyone's orientation. I'm just saying that the GOP would never allow an unmarried candidate with a cloud of rumors onto a national ticket [see Crist, Charlie, 2008]).

As for the substance of what Collins said . . . yeah, she's gone off the deep end, along with the rest of 'em. There are, officially, no reasonable Republicans left in Congress. Unfortunately, both Snowe and Collins have cemented their "moderate" reputations so firmly, neither one will ever lose.

Posted by: The Caped Composer on February 3, 2010 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

as if she were just another Republican hack.

You mean to say she isn't? Come on.

The right-wing freakshow has managed to turn a completely amateurish fuck-up into a devastating terror attack, thereby giving much aid and plenty comfort to the enemy.

As somebody above said, it's a lot like treason.

Osama would be tickled pink if he could see how things have turned out.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on February 4, 2010 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Just goes to show.

Even the most "moderate" ReThuglican still lies out her behind and toes the party line when called upon to do so.

Just another ReThuglican tool, and a dull one at that.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on February 4, 2010 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

"WTF is a Sarah Failin add doing here?"

Off topic, too, but off HAND I'd say it's generating money for Political Animal from La Palin without any return on her buck.

Paraphrasing Liz Taylor, if they are crazy enough to run ads on Political Animal, PA is not crazy enough to refuse them.

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 4, 2010 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

"I have no idea what Collins has been smoking/snorting/drinking/shooting up."

Kool-Aid? It's powder, so I suppose you could smoke, snort or shoot it up.

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 4, 2010 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Great comment, Texas Aggie, and it bothered me a lot too when she complained about Abdulmutallab being afforded the same rights as a citizen. But it's not just Collins. I think it was Duncan Hunter from California spouting the same nonsense just a day or two ago, and of course Scott Brown was praised by newly elected Virginia guv Bob McDonnell for saying that tax dollars shouldn't be spent on lawyers for terrorists. Seems like a bolded doubled-underlined Republican talking point lately, or it could just be that it is part of the Republican belief system that due process is a right of U.S. citizens only, not a human right.

Posted by: Katie on February 4, 2010 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

"if Republicans will ever be able to recover from their current condition."

And we saw pictures of Olympia Snowe screeching at Geithner about plans to raise taxes on small business owners making more than 250K. If you make 250K, what is sacrosanct about making it as a small businessman?

The question I have is whether the Congresspeople are just reflecting the lunacy of the base, or vice versa.

Posted by: bob h on February 4, 2010 at 7:10 AM | PERMALINK

It's funny. When it concerns property or guns or if a Republian's ass is in the dock, rights are inviolable and god-given natural rights. But then when its someone else, they're just defeasible rules.

Posted by: The Fool on February 4, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

In the current GOP if you aren't willing to make a fool of yourself over paranoia and security.

Posted by: Jamie on February 4, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

oops you will be called a RINO, to complete my post

Posted by: Jamie on February 4, 2010 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK


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Posted by: regitaf on February 8, 2010 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK
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