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Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2010

COLLINS STILL CAN'T ADMIT HER MISTAKE.... For reasons that are still unclear, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has decided to take a leadership role in going after the Obama administration's handling of the attempted Abdulmutallab attack. So far, this hasn't gone especially well.

Collins said officials only interrogated Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes. That was wrong. She said Abdulmutallab "stopped talking" after having been told of his rights. That was wrong. Collins suggested Abdulmutallab only began cooperating "in the context of plea negotiations." That was wrong. She said there "was no consultation with intelligence officials" about the questioning. And that was wrong .

More recently, Collins has emphasized her outrage over the Obama administration's decision to make Abdulmutallab aware of his rights (the same step taken by the Bush/Cheney administration in a nearly identical terrorist plot in 2001). Except, she, too, was briefed on the arrest by a top Homeland Security official, and raised no concerns about the legal process.

This afternoon, a Collins spokesperson, without a hint of irony, accused the Obama administration of trying to cover its "mistake."

It is offensive, to Senator Collins and the American people, that the Obama Administration is more concerned with political spin to cover a mistake than with taking the actions urgently needed to improve our nation's security. Clearly, the Administration is trying to divert attention from the fact that it interrogated a foreign terrorist for less than one hour before the Justice Department unilaterally decided to Mirandize him and he stopped talking.

Senator Collins calls on the Obama Administration to immediately change its policies and ensure consultation with top intelligence and security officials before treating the capture of the next foreign terrorist as only a civilian law enforcement matter. She will continue to press for her bipartisan legislation that mandates this consultation.

When we cut through the nonsense and cheap talking points, what we're left with is Collins, after making a series of demonstrably false claims, complaining that the Justice Department didn't coordinate further with other agencies on how best to deal with Abdulmutallab. That's it. That's all that's left from the original argument.

But, again, this is foolish. For one thing, the Obama administration has applied the exact same procedures as Bush/Cheney, and Collins never expressed this outrage before. For another, as Attorney General Eric Holder explained last week, "No agency supported the use of law of war detention for Abdulmutallab, and no agency has since advised the Department of Justice that an alternative course of action should have been, or should now be, pursued."

What we're left with, then, is Susan Collins making a mistake by falsely criticizing the administration, and then digging deeper with a series of even more absurd false criticisms.

She should have quit while she was behind. As this story has dragged on, Collins has sounded less like a reasonable, moderate, influential senator and more like a rookie House member trying to impress Fox News producers. As Josh Marshall noted recently, Collins' criticisms have turned her into something of "an embarrassment."

Steve Benen 4:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Comments

Why is this woman going all McCain over this issue? I can't imagine this kind of nonsense favorably impresses the folks back home. Is she looking over the Republican field and deciding that she can win the nomination in 2012 - kind of an English-speaking Palin?

Posted by: mrgumby2u on February 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

A big lie is not a "deception."

Posted by: Steve M. on February 8, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

I meant to say a big lie is not a "mistake."

Posted by: Steve M. on February 8, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is one Administration decision we don't have to blindly support. Yes go after the factual errors in the criticism and stand up to the right wing, but that doesn't mean this wasn't a BLUNDER.

Prosecutors make decision not to read rights in important cases where the arrestee may have significant information about ongoing and future crimes on occasion. The only think lost is the admissibility in court of what is said before the Miranda. In this case scores of witnesses saw him try and blow up the plane, and there is the physical evidence. It is an ironclad case. His statements being inadmissible due to lack of Miranda wouldn't harm the open and shut case.

As far as Steve's third to last graph about no agencies opposing, what do you expect at this point? It is a silly statement from Holder.

Posted by: DYI on February 8, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

An embarrassment to whom? To people who used to see her as a moderate? Maybe, although that narrative is still in place amongst far too many moderate-information voters. To her base? Certainly not, although it will be interesting to see what Maine voters think of this current hard shift to the right, if they even remember it in 2014 when she's up for re-election.

Posted by: Kris on February 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

News Flash:
GOP Senator Lies About Something
Sen. Collins Refuses to Admit Her Own Mistakes

Looks like a classic case of Dog Bites Man from where I sit.

Posted by: itstrue on February 8, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how fast and loud these people would scream about withholding rights from the accused if the authorities were to render alleged terrorists who were blue-eyed christo-fascists to Gitmo for some friendly waterboarding to head off more terrorist plots against women's doctors, liberal Unitarians, etc.

Posted by: G.Kerby on February 8, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

For reasons that are still unclear, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has decided to take a leadership role in going after the Obama administration's handling of the attempted Abdulmutallab attack.

Not all that unclear. This idiot, who suffers from the same self-delusions as nearly all her partymates, is running for president.

Posted by: shortstop on February 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Susan Collins is just reminding us about the new Republican foreign policy proposal which she has been trying to get out for the past week. You know, the Republican policy - promote hysteria! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why shouldn't Sen Collins behave this way? Is there any downside? Is anyone with any voice challenging her version of "reality"?

Posted by: Relph Kramden on February 8, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

She'll pay the price for this, right? Our diligent media will be documenting her lies, right?

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on February 8, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

And you know, Steve, if you tell Republicans that Collins -- or any Republican -- is wrong you get accused of being condescending. (see WAPO, Alexandar, "Why are liberals so condescending," 02/07/2010)

The GOP regularly taps that Palinesque American trait of anti-elitism, even when the premise of their position is demonstrably false. This attitude is as domineering as it is authoritarian. It's intended to silence dissent, inhibit debate and dominate a discussion.

The hell with condescending attitudes. The GOP needs to be confronted on their assumptions and assertions at all times. That is not condescending, it is simply being truthful -- like the 10 Commandments tell us to be. Speaking truth to liars is as important as speaking truth to power.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on February 8, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, I thought the President was supposed to have ultimate authority for defending this country, and criticizing the way the President deals with such things "emboldens the terrorists."

Why does Collins support al Qaeda?

Posted by: biggerbox on February 8, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

maybe collins joined the hack of the month club

Posted by: mudwall jackson on February 8, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yes go after the factual errors in the criticism and stand up to the right wing, but that doesn't mean this wasn't a BLUNDER.

How was it a blunder, what information did they lose because of granting him certain due process rights, which the constitution requires? Nothing, he continued to talk after being read his rights.
In order for this to be a blunder, you'd have to demonstrate that information was lost as a result of a Miranda warning. Neither you nor Collins can do so, which only makes you both look like asses by trying to spin it another way.
It ain't blind support to point out the facts.

As far as Steve's third to last graph about no agencies opposing, what do you expect at this point? It is a silly statement from Holder.

Not if you actually read the statement, which clearly notes that no agency supported law of war, either then OR now, not just "at this point". Someone's making silly statements, but it ain't Holder. Maybe you should just pick up a shovel and help Collins with that giant hole she's digging.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 8, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not if you actually read the statement, which clearly notes that no agency supported law of war, either then OR now
Com on Holder statement is a classic piece of political doublespeak. Most agencies were not informed before hand and afterwords the political appointed heads of agencies are not going to go against Holder!
what information did they lose because of granting him certain due process rights, which the constitution requires?
Because yo are wrong. As I noted the constitution does not "require reading Miranda" rights and only a person unfamiliar with high value investigative targets would claim so. As a prosecutor Holder prboably interviewed dozens of high value targets that were not read Miranda rights until much later. Miranda rights are required for statements to be entered into court. Miranda rights have to do with admissibility of the defendant's statements -- that is it. No one is required to read them to you, they are required if your statements are going to be used in prosecution. If you have 20 eyewitness and the bomb material inside the bombers clothing you don't need an admissible confession.
Nothing, he continued to talk after being read his rights.
Bull. We know he clammed up for quite some time immediately after being read the miranda. We don't know what opportunities were lost in that period. And the fact that he is talking now is not because he was read his rights.

I understand the impulse to defend the administration. I feel it to. I don't care for the hypocrites and nuts on the right. But this entire decision making process was a total BLUNDER. And Steve's piece is quite poorly (and inaccurately) argued, and generally I like his writing. But we don't need very thin and flimsy bullet points, we are not mindless idiots like the Repubs.

Posted by: DYI on February 8, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

BUT DYI YOU ARE A MINDLESS IDIOT!!!

Your the only one making unsubstantiated staements. Like Holder Probably interviewed etc.
Bullshit you really don't know what your talking about. Your only proving the old axiom "opinions are like assholes and we all have one".

Posted by: Gandalf on February 8, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders if DYI has actually read Miranda. The Miranda decision says that the rights should be read anytime the focus of an investigation has turned on an individual and that person is not free to leave. Granted the only practical enforcement of this is not admitting the evidence in Court but the decision certainly didn't say that one didn't have to be read their rights if there was no intention of using the statement in Court.

Posted by: Camus on February 8, 2010 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it considered bad form (by the Democrats, I should clarify) to hold a senator up to ridicule when they say something stupid? Especially when they're nervy enough to put it in print, and cannot fall back on, "I misspoke"?

Collins should be openly mocked until she's crying angry tears on the six o'clock news. Stop treating mendacious trash from Teabagger Training Camp as if they merited exquisite courtesy.

Posted by: Mark on February 8, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

"As this story has dragged on, Collins has sounded less like a reasonable, moderate, influential senator and more like a rookie House member trying to impress Fox News producers".

You sound surprised.

Why?

Posted by: JW on February 8, 2010 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

So which journalist is going to rip her a new one the next time she appears on television?

Tick, tick, tick, tick . . .

Posted by: bdop4 on February 8, 2010 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

False criticism is only a mistake if the truth matters. Why doesn't the truth matter? Because this is an ideological war in which the ends justify the means. Reality is simply waved away when it becomes inconvenient. Getting the facts straight is entirely optional. It's taking control of the narrative and regaining power that matters.

There is little incentive for them to stop as long as there's a big pay-off and few real consequences. We need accountability now. Looking at you, mainstream media.

Posted by: FC on February 8, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why is this even an issue? The defendant was arrested within the U.S. and accused of an act that could be described as terroristic, but was clearly a crime, and because he was within the US he therefore is covered by certain constitutional protections, including the right of due process. Since when has it been a possibility that someone arrested in the US can be denied procedural safe guards that are required by the Constitution?

It seems that there is an effort to assert that a non-citizen, arrested withing the US boundaries, and be declared to be exempt from Constitutional protections. I know of no currently operative case law that would allow such a denial.

Posted by: plainbrown1 on February 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should tell Susan Collins to go "Cheney" herself.

Posted by: Tom on February 8, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

There are only theoretical moderates in the Republican party; Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe are not moderates. Check the voting record. These bastards all vote in lockstep with each other. Everyone assumes that Republican senators from New England are moderates. It is all bullshit. Blue dog Democrats aren't much better; they're socially moderate but economic conservatives. That's why there is at least 15 Democratic Senators from swing states and the south, that are ready to jump in the sack with the Republicans at the drop of a hat. That is why Health care reform, the Climate Bill, and any other progressive legislation is doomed to go nowhere unless it is watered down to the point where it loses its meaning.

Posted by: verberne on February 8, 2010 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

DYI--and what happens if he started about crimes/conspiracies other than the attempted Christmas Day bombing? Wouldn't his statements be useful in court for any additional criminal trials that may arise from his interrogation? Not Mirandizing someone because there are eye witnesses and the evidence is "iron clad" is incredibly short-sighted. Give me a signed admission any day over eye-witness recollection.

Posted by: Mike Lamb on February 8, 2010 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

You know, when you put up these updates and say things are going poorly you do a diservice. One of the main ways the right is different is that lefties serperate political and non-political things while the righties treaty everything as political. There's a downside to this obviously (Bush years) but when talking about Collins, obviously she's wrong but more importantly HOW IS THIS PLAYING IN HER HOME STATE? Are opponents making political hay out of it? Are her poll numbers down? Is there a way to use it to attack her at home and get her to change or weaken her next election? That's what I want to know and Steve, you never ever talk about that stuff.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 8, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Collins is running for VP. She's a multi-threat ticket balancer for the GOP. I hear rumblings from people who play with her in-district staff that theie model is Kennedy's '56 VP flirtation, with the same long-range plan.

After the GOP destroys itself with its pursuit of all things Southern, evangelical, anti-environmental, corporatist, etc. everyone will look around for someone who isn't Southern, not a public God-botherer, who voted against opening ANWR, voted for the stimulus, etc.

And Suzie Creamcheese is the last one standing. But she has to make her terror bones.

(I think she -- or her staff, since they do her thinking for her, and I don't think there's a Senator so easily staff-lead now that Strom is gone -- is delusional, but hey, a gir gotta dream.)

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 8, 2010 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's because I'm a critiquing type English Major, but how about Susan Collin's
annoyingly slow and monotonic patterns of speech,
and her recent and rather obviously partisan distraction?
Certainly not a Shakespearean Sonnet.
More likely, no credibility.
Her presentation of "Bush lite" ideological conservative views for party loyalty only, a mere following of the party line makes her a partisan hack and republican cheerleader, with a substantial misstep. It is a disservice to the citizens of this country.
Talk about "dithering..."

Posted by: level of cynicism/consider wisely on February 8, 2010 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

We also know that many disadvantaged children entering kindergarten have heard only half the words and can understand only half the meanings that children from more economically advantaged homes can. Without evidence-based early interventions, the vocabulary gap for many disadvantaged children will double by high school. Without this vocabulary knowledge, what students read will make little sense. We also know that similar gaps exist in critical pre-reading skills that include print knowledge and phonological awareness (an understanding of the sound structure of language), and that these gaps will not close without informed, systematic early interventions.

Posted by: Decision making process on February 9, 2010 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

I have been tired of hearing Susan Collins described as a moderate for about 8 years now. She's a hack, always has been, always will be.

Posted by: SquareState on February 9, 2010 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

Collins is running for VP. She's a multi-threat ticket balancer for the GOP. I hear rumblings from people who play with her in-district staff that theie model is Kennedy's '56 VP flirtation, with the same long-range plan.

After the GOP destroys itself with its pursuit of all things Southern, evangelical, anti-environmental, corporatist, etc. everyone will look around for someone who isn't Southern, not a public God-botherer, who voted against opening ANWR, voted for the stimulus, etc.

And Suzie Creamcheese is the last one standing. But she has to make her terror bones.

Bingo. She's banking on the flameout of the berserkers. It's a good plan for someone with long-term vision. Sadly for Collins, she is no JFK, ma'am.

Posted by: shortstop on February 9, 2010 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Collins in her unwitting stupidity is playing Al Qaeda's game in trying to undermine confidence in the Chief Executive and our system of justice.

Posted by: bob h on February 9, 2010 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans are incapable of being an embarrassment, no matter what they say. This is an empirical fact, confirmed by the media on an hourly basis.

Posted by: d4winds on February 9, 2010 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

but how about Susan Collin's
annoyingly slow and monotonic patterns of speech,

People up here -- she won re-election by 60-40% against a three-term US Rep in a Democratic blowout year -- just consider that proof that she's not a politician. Mainers hate politicians -- Perot finished second here in '92, we have had two two-term Independent governors in the last thirty years, and a very strong local Green Party.

And Palin's shown that schtick has a certain amount of appeal.

There's a public-speaking version of uncanny valley to begin with, and Obama's shifted the curve. Collins is staying out of it.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 9, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

"demonstrably false"

The whole problem is that when someone says that something is "demonstrably false," Republicans hear the phrase "liberal lies" instead. It's their conditioning.

Posted by: chrenson on February 9, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

For those bloggers intent on holding Collins up to well-deserved ridicule, the proper spelling of the term they're going to be grasping for is "DEMAGOGUE."

Posted by: Hart Williams on February 9, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Świetny pomysł, ale czy to będzie działać na dłuższą metę?

Posted by: ruletka graj on February 10, 2010 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Hej, no dobra, łapię, domyślam się - ale czy to na prawdę działa?

Posted by: ruletke on February 10, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Cholera, to wydaje się takie proste, jeżeli się nad tym zastanowisz.

Posted by: kasyno ruletka on May 31, 2010 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

You people are such idiots.. Fear not...she has come back to the fold with getting in your Kagan nominee..Since when has she ever been a moderate?..give me a break...Gosh such a camileon.. or she thinks she is..

Posted by: j on August 4, 2010 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Credit Debt on November 1, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Credit Card Debt on November 1, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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