Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 15, 2010

ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE.... For all the baseless whining about how the Obama administration handled the Abdulmutallab case, it appears increasingly obvious that the White House's approach was not only correct, but is paying dividends that benefit all of us. Eli Lake has this important report.

U.S. and allied counterterrorism authorities have launched a global manhunt for English-speaking terrorists trained in Yemen who are planning attacks on the United States, based on intelligence provided by the suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing after he began cooperating.

U.S. officials told The Washington Times that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, facing charges as a would-be suicide bomber, revealed during recent cooperation with the FBI that he met with other English speakers at a terrorist training camp in Yemen. Three U.S. intelligence officials, including one senior official, disclosed on the condition of anonymity some details of the additional bomb plots. [...]

Information about the bomb plots was shared with the FBI after Mr. Abdulmutallab's family traveled from Nigeria to help coax the former student into cooperating, after a period of about five weeks when he refused to help authorities.

Let's be really clear about this. Republican criticism hasn't just strayed badly from reality in the Abdulmutallab case; the more important takeaway is that if U.S. policy followed Republican talking points, we'd be less safe as a nation right now.

On the surface, one of the key GOP attacks is the notion that making Abdulmutallab aware of his rights meant that we were denied important intelligence about possible terrorist threats. It should be painfully obvious that Republicans have no idea what they're talking about -- Abdulmutallab has provided critically important information since getting a lawyer and being Mirandized.

But we can also go one step further and realize the depths of Republicans' misguided ideas here. If, for example, we'd locked up Abdulmutallab in a military prison and/or denied him Miranda rights, he wouldn't be cooperating right now.

The White House has defended the decision to treat Mr. Abdulmutallab as a criminal on the grounds that the suspect's family has coaxed him into cooperating, something that likely would not have occurred had he not been afforded access to counsel.

There's a "global manhunt" underway to prevent potentially deadly terrorist attacks precisely because the U.S. is operating under Obama's approach, and not Cheney's.

For anyone who takes American security seriously, this policy debate is over. The discredited right looks increasingly ridiculous with each passing day.

Steve Benen 2:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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But Steveee, by Mirandizing Abdulmutallabbbb we didn't get a chance to torture him into justifying an attack on Nigeria and stealing Their oil..


Posted by: Lance on February 15, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

It'd be nice if the only people we have to convince of this are rational, intelligent people. Problem is, rational, intelligent people already are convinced Obama's approach is superior to the failures of the Bu$h/DICK Cheney cabal, and the people who refuse to acknowledge reality never will. Any 'official' release of this sort of information coming from a democratic administration is simply not credible in their minds.

Posted by: citizen_pain on February 15, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

What does it say when Eli Lake and the Washington Times are a key source of information for discrediting asinine claims made by wingnuts?

Posted by: LaFollette Progressive on February 15, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

It should be painfully obvious that Republicans have no idea what they're talking about.

If Republicans make inane, demonstrably false claims, and no one reports them---did they actually happen?

(A play on the 'if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?' philosophical question.)

Republicans can and do get away with anything that they want to, and if not remedied, our Nation will continue to devolve.

Posted by: terraformer on February 15, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad. If we had just waterboarded the guy until he acknowledged that Dick Cheney was behind the attack....and that it was designed to distract from the last administration's failures....then we could have had a quick military trial of the Dick, and, of course, a quick execution.

Posted by: lacywood on February 15, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

you're right, Steve, and I wish someone in the admin would be making this point more forcefully. However, i think the Cheneyites' game is, unfortunately, more "logical" in a Rovian sense. It goes like this: continualy attack O as weak, then assume/hope that we get hit, then say, "we told you so."

Posted by: ulrich on February 15, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Lacywood nails it!

Posted by: G.Kerby on February 15, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't have work (logically), it just has to sell (politically).

It's not torture, it's pre-emptive revenge.

Posted by: LosGstosCA on February 15, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

"For anyone who takes American security seriously, this policy debate is over."

Prediction: This group will turn out not to include the Washington Post, the New York Times, or CNN.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on February 15, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

The trick is to make people realize it isn't a TV show and the cop emoting as he slams the guy against the wall is not standard operating procedure and doesn't usually produce a confession.

Posted by: Midland on February 15, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

They say it's about policy, but this is speaking to America's brain stem: Someone hurt us, we should hurt them. And if we hurt this guy bad enough, the other terrorists will know not to mess with us.

I think that's why even though they are wrong on the merits and the facts, these idiotic charges will resonate with the sizable population of American dead enders.

Posted by: inkadu on February 15, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"if U.S. policy followed Republican talking points, we'd be less safe as a nation right now."

Steve, that is true.

That is also their goal. Because a nation that is less safe will translate into an electorate that is more susceptible to fearmongering... which is the only way Republicans can win elections. (On the other hand, it's not the only way they can win political power, since the only people more susceptible to conservative fearmongering than the electorate are elected Democrats.)

Posted by: Chris on February 15, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Are we sure all the fear mongering is really resonating with the American people. It seems to me that a lot of us have caught on. Any polling to support the idea that the Republican fear mongering is gaining any traction outside the cowardly base of elected Democrats and Sarah Palin supporters?

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'd feel even more safe if Cheney were under indictment and America could no longer here his voice. (They wouldn't allow a former vice presidnet under indictment access to the MSM, would they?)

Posted by: anomaly on February 15, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

hear his voice.

Posted by: anomaly on February 15, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

anomaly, ordinarily a former VP couldn't get air time, but Dead Eye Dick is special. After all they take turns making sure his spectacularly untalented daughter gets a paycheck.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 15, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Robert Morgenthau, interviewed on WNYC today, made the point that criminal prosecutors in the conventional criminal justice system have much more experience and are much more skilled at getting convictions than their counterparts in the military.
Proceeding in the US justice system is a much more effective way of getting a conviction.

Posted by: bob h on February 15, 2010 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

I have a dream, it is of 5 deferments Cheney getting waterboarded (just to show that it is safe)
he is the biggest coward on the planet, he who would not go into a dark room until secret service people checked it out and turned on the light, he who carried a haz-mat suit in his car at all times and who begged Obama for secret service protection longer than it was authorized for a VP!

Posted by: Joan on February 15, 2010 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

So much for Abdulmutallab being a lone whacko. Wonder how long before we gas up the jets and take down Yemen?

Posted by: Richie Poor on February 15, 2010 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK



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