Effective Interrogation Of Christmas Bomber Blocked By White House - National Security Team Cut Out Of Process

January 22, 2010 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - It's clear from recent Congressional testimony by the Obama administration's national security team, led by John Brennan Deputy National Security Advisor, that there was nothing that even approached a reasonably thorough interrogation of the Nigerian Christmas bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab before he was read his Miranda rights, allowing him to lawyer up, effectively silencing him.

Reading between the lines - not so difficult with this administration - it appears that the WH in conjunction with the DOJ simply made the decision on the matter - granting Abdulmuatllab the same rights which accrue to American citizens - only then informing the agencies which should have been consulted well before such a decision had been rendered.

That the need for an intensive interrogation of Abdulmutallab was required, should have been obvious to anyone even marginally well-versed in intelligence matters. With the bomber's well know direct links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, he could have provided vital intelligence - regarding most critically - the existence of further bombing plots. That information which now, due to this national security team's incompetence, we will never know.

The number of lives potentially threatened by this serious breach is impossible to gauge at this point, leaving the United States in a reactive, rather than aggressively pro-active , wide open for whatever lingering plans might still be operative.

Speaking to this spectacular intelligence failure Congressman Frank Wolf [R-VA] has addressed his concerns to Mr. Brennan, noting - unbelievably - that five months into the process, the administration is still refusing to provide lawmakers with any information regarding the profound changes that have been made to the previous interrogation policy, the one mind you that countenanced in the enhanced debriefing of KS Mohammed, revealing the existence of numerous ongoing terrorist plots.

Below from Mr. Wolf's letter, revealing an administration whose anti-terror policy is in disarray.

"I am deeply concerned about the conflicting information that members of Congress have received about the interrogation of the alleged Christmas Day airline bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. I would appreciate your help in clarifying these conflicting reports and explaining our interrogation policy.

It is becoming clear to me is that there was no coordinated interagency management of the Abdulmutallab interrogation before he was read Miranda rights and provided an attorney. In light of recent intelligence reports indicating other potential terror plots against the U.S., this haste may have cost the U.S. Government and our intelligence professionals critical information that could have helped to uncover and disrupt future attacks.

Last August, the Administration announced a major change in our Nation's interrogation policy based on the recommendations of the Interrogation Task Force. At the time to policy was announced, the Congress was told that the President had approved a series of policy changes. It is now five months later and the Administration has not provided the new policy to the Congress. Can you please provide me with a copy of the Administration's interrogation policy approved by the President in August, 2009, classified as appropriate? Can you also please provide me with a copy of any final memorandum of understanding related to implementation of the new policy? In addition, the Administration reports that the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) envisioned in the new policy is not yet operational. How will the HIG operate, and what is the timeline for the HIG to begin operations?

Despite the fact that the HIG is not yet operational, a cornerstone of the new interrogation policy was that the "principal function" of interrogations of High-Value Detainees would be "intelligence gathering rather than law enforcement". It is therefore very troubling that in the case of Mr. Abdulmutallab, it appears that key entities of the intelligence community were not consulted or involved in the interrogation or the decision to forego extensive interrogation and treat this as a case for Federal prosecution. Was anyone in the intelligence community, outside of the FBI, consulted regarding this interrogation?

A report published yesterday by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff cites unnamed officials as stating that the HIG was specifically envisioned to handle the questioning of high-value Al Qaeda leaders captured overseas. This assertion is contrary to briefings I have received from administration officials. Does the new policy give the HIG or any other entity the authority to interrogate terrorists detained inside the U.S.? What is the definition of "High-Value Detainee", and did Mr. Abdulmutallab fit that definition? Regardless of where a detainee is apprehended, if the person has intelligence value, the underlying purpose should be to get as much information as possible.

Finally, I remain concerned about the length of the interrogation of Mr. Abdulmutallab. By all accounts investigators spent only a few hours with him, at most. It is troubling to think that an opportunity to gain critical intelligence may have been lost because we did not put the right people in place, consult the intelligence community, and give interrogators the necessary time to conduct an effective, intelligence-driven, interrogation.

These are critical questions that must be answered to ensure proper congressional oversight. Last week, I sent you the enclosed letter with a series of additional questions pertaining to this terrorist plot and the developing threat from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I would appreciate a prompt response to these questions as well. I urge you to work with members of Congress to provide a clear picture of the events of December 25, 2009 and to ensure that our federal interrogators have the support and resources need to secure necessary and timely intelligence from detained terrorists."

Team Obama's record of responding to such Congressional inquiry has been abysmal, with long standing demands for information routinely being ignored in matters as disparate as the Black Panther vote suppression case, the threat assessments of GITMO detainees and other questions regarding the release of terror suspects to foreign countries such as Yemen.

1999-2010 PipeLineNews.org LLC. All rights reserved.