Debra J. Saunders

Republicans have been hitting the Obama administration for Attorney General Eric Holder's too-quick decision to Mirandize accused Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after a mere 50 minutes of what has been described as valuable interrogation. After the Miranda moment, the would-be bomber clammed up.

Critics argue that the FBI did not need to tell the Nigerian citizen that he had a right to remain silent and to an attorney. For one thing, he is not a U.S. citizen, but arguably an "enemy combatant" caught entering the country intent on committing an act of war. And even if he were a U.S. citizen, a "public-safety exception" for putting off a Miranda reading is recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. So how do the Obamans defend this clear mistake?

The answer: By reminding people that President George W. Bush allowed accused terrorists to be Mirandized first. As if that makes Holder's decision smart and solid.

On Wednesday, Holder sent a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that noted that the decision to try Abdulmutallab in criminal court and interrogate him a la Miranda was consistent with "policies and practices" adopted by previous administrations and "were not criticized when employed by previous administrations."

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Be it noted, Obama and other Dems were in no position to criticize the Bushies for being too easy on terrorists because they were so busy kicking them for being too tough on the likes of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And Republicans had their hands full defending Bush against efforts to weaken intelligence-gathering.

Holder also noted that under Bush, law enforcement officials advised now-convicted shoe-bomber Richard Reid, a British citizen, "of his right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney within five minutes of being removed from the aircraft" Reid tried to blow up.

Bush supporters have responded by noting that military tribunals were not operational when Reid was arrested in December 2001, hence, his treatment was mirrored that of any other accused criminal. That still doesn't mean it was a swell idea to Mirandize Reid before actionable intelligence might have been gleaned.

At Senate Intelligence Committee hearings last week, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, grilled Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on the premature Mirandizing of Abdulmutallab. Mueller nonsensically responded that "fast-moving" events prompted the decision.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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