9-11 panel chiefs says Obama team screwed up on underpants bomber

Eli Lake:

The leaders of a commission that investigated failures related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks told a Senate panel Tuesday the Obama administration mishandled the interrogation of the failed Christmas Day airline bomber.

Former Gov. Thomas H. Keane, New Jersey Republican, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, Indiana Democrat, said U.S. intelligence agencies should have been consulted before the bombing suspect, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was granted constitutional protections under U.S. law, known as Miranda rights, and initially stopped talking to investigators.

The criticism from two of Washington's respected former government officials comes as a bipartisan panel on Tuesday gave the Obama administration a failing grade for its efforts to date to prepare for and respond to biological-weapon terrorist attacks.

Mr. Abdulmutallab, who is now in custody, was interrogated for 50 minutes after he was pulled off of a Northwest Airlines flight after he purportedly tried to detonate a homemade explosive device sewn into his underwear.

Asked for his reaction to the fact that the intelligence community was not consulted, Mr. Keane told the Senate Homeland Security Committee, "I was shocked, and I was upset."

The former governor said that "it made no sense whatsoever to me that, here is a man who may have trained with other people who are trying to get into this country in one way or another, who may have worked with some of the top leadership in Yemen and al Qaeda generally — and we don't know the details of that — who may know about other plots that are pending, and we haven't found out about them."

Mr. Hamilton was questioned about the issues and said he agreed with Mr. Keane.

"There did not seem to be a policy of the government as to how to handle these people," Mr. Hamilton said. "And that has to be clarified."

...

There is a policy, it just does not make much sense. The policy is that if the attack occurs on or over US soil and and the perp is caught, he will be tried in teh criminal justice system and not in a military commission. This is the Holder policy, and it has little to nothing to do with national security or strategic thinking.

In fact, it puts us permanently on the strategic defensive, reacting to attacks rather than finding out about future attacks and stopping them. It is a return to the failed policies of the Clinton administration and is consistent with the liberal terrorist rights agenda.

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