Was ‘Underwear Bomber’ Case Mishandled by White House?
by JIM KOURI, CPP
January 22, 2010
Hearings before the U.S. Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday revealed that the nation's top intelligence officer, the Homeland Security secretary and the CIA chief were not consulted by the White House after the capture of the so-called "Underwear Bomber."
In testimony he gave as he sat before the committee senators, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said the Christmas Day airline bombing suspect should have been detained as a terror suspect when the plane landed and that it was a mistake to arrest him as a criminal suspect.
He stated that special interrogators rather than civilian law enforcement officers should have questioned the would-be bomber.
The Nigerian terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was reportedly interrogated by federal law enforcement investigators when Northwest Flight 253 landed at Detroit International Airport on Christmas Day after he allegedly tried to detonate a makeshift bomb he surreptitiously took through airport security in Nigeria and Amsterdam. Abdulmutallab presently is being held in a secure prison about 50 miles outside of Detroit.
Blair told the Senate committee members that he was not consulted on about Abdulmutallab and whether or not he should be interrogated by the new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. The White House had decided to remove interrogation responsibility from the Central Intelligence Agency and have a team conduct interrogations of suspected terrorists.
"That unit was created just for this type of case," Blair said. "We should have put it before them. The decision was made on the scene. We should have used it."
Blair and U.S. National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter, who was also on a panel this morning, have come under heat for the failed Christmas Day plot and its aftermath.
It was the Justice Department that immediately indicted Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft even after he told cops he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his explosives at an al Qaeda training camp in Yemen. And they did it without notifying intelligence or homeland security officials.
Last summer, the White House announced that the CIA would no longer interrogate suspected terrorists. Any and all interrogations will be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direct supervision of a member of the administration, although no one had been named “Interrogation Czar.”
The move was part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s intention to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA agents involved in interrogations already investigated by the CIA’s Inspector General’s Office. Holder's critics have pointed out that his law firm represented several terrorists who were tried by the U.S.
Groups such as Amnesty International, Code Pick and others are applauding Attorney General Holder’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate cases brought to the Department of Justice against members of the Central Intelligence Agency.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Jim Kouri, CPP is currently vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org) as well as a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he is syndicated by AXcessNews.Com.