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Krauthammer On Abdulmutallab: ‘The Guy Is Nigerian,’ So You ‘Have To Assume’ He Wasn’t ‘Acting Alone’

By Amanda Terkel  

"Krauthammer On Abdulmutallab: ‘The Guy Is Nigerian,’ So You ‘Have To Assume’ He Wasn’t ‘Acting Alone’"

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Today’s Fox News Sunday panel looked at Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to hold terrorist trials in federal courts rather than military commissions. The discussion quickly shifted to Holder himself, and whether he should be fired. NPR’s Juan Williams argued that Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer were lobbing “unjustified” attacks on Holder since the Bush administration repeatedly tried terrorists in civilian courts.

Krauthammer then cited the case of the failed Christmas Day bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, saying that the Obama administration should have assumed that he “has people who are working with him” because he’s Nigerian:

KRAUTHAMMER: You arrest a guy who’s got a bomb in his underpants. You know, it’s likely he didn’t do it at home in his kitchen. … The guy is Nigerian. You’ve got to assume — you have to assume that he has people who are working with him.

WILLIAMS: Because he’s a Nigerian?

KRAUTHAMMER: Why do you assume otherwise? It makes no sense at all. You capture a terrorist and in almost all of our plots there are groups of terrorists. [...]

WILLIAMS: We have made such progress in terms of breaking down al Qaeda and getting them in terms of the structure to malfunction that there are now more lone wolves now and it’s tougher to capture and know the extent of knowledge they have at any one moment. There was no evidence, on the face of it on that day, had come from an al Qaeda training camp.

When Williams asked whether Holder should be held “accountable for all intelligence failures, including intelligence failures by the British and everybody else who didn’t understand what Abdulmutallab was up to,” Kristol smirked and shrugged his shoulders. Watch it:

On Jan. 5, President Obama admitted that there were “human and systemic failures that almost cost nearly 300 lives” on Christmas Day. He added that it “was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.” Unlike what Kristol was trying to argue, it was not solely the fault of “incompetence” by Holder.

Transcript:

KRAUTHAMMER: Democrats are running away from any idea — from KSM in New York, and they all are arguing that you don’t — on Miranda rights, the Democrats are scared to death of defending Miranda rights. (CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: You said we’re politicizing that. I supported the President on Afghanistan. I support him on Iraq. I have no problem with Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense. I don’t have much of a problem with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. I don’t have much of a problem with Leon Panetta as CIA director. It is just unfair to say if we think Eric Holder is doing a bad job (CROSSTALK) — He is doing a bad job! He’s been an incompetent attorney general! He’s been an incompetent attorney general!

WILLIAMS: There’s no evidence he’s been incompetent. You’re simply saying you disagree with the idea that the civilian courts could handle Abdulmutallab. And that obviously is not —

KRISTOL: You defend the decision? You defend the decision not to let the CIA know that Abdulmutallab — (CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: No, I think they should have let everybody know, and when we see a list of administration top officials, including the Homeland Security director, Dennis Blair — director of Intelligence — saying he’s unaware, that to me is wrong. But it’s also the case that they did not understand that this man was not a lone wolf, that he was in fact tied into al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Once they did, then steps were taken.

KRISTOL: But, Juan, how could you not understand that?

WILLIAMS: Oh, please! C’mon.

WALLACE: Let Charles —

KRAUTHAMMER: You arrest a guy who’s got a bomb in his underpants. You know, it’s likely he didn’t do it at home in his kitchen.

WILLIAMS: It’s not. Let me just say —

KRAUTHAMMER: The guy is Nigerian. You’ve got to assume — you have to assume that he has people who are working with him.

WILLIAMS: Because he’s a Nigerian?

KRAUTHAMMER: Why do you assume otherwise? It makes no sense at all. You capture a terrorist and in almost all of our plots there are groups of terrorists. Why would you assume he is acting alone and not interrogate — (CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: We have made such progress in terms of breaking down al Qaeda and getting them in terms of the structure to malfunction that there are now more lone wolves now and it’s tougher to capture and know the extent of knowledge they have at any one moment. There was no evidence, on the face of it on that day, had come from an al Qaeda training camp.

KRAUTHAMMER: He told them immediately.

WILLIAMS: He told them. He told them.

KRAUTHAMMER: “I’m from Yemen.” Once you hear that –

KRISTOL: It’s in the files. In fact, if they alerted the CIA, they had intercepts with his name. Remember his father went to the embassy? If you were a responsible person and you immediately let the CIA and other intelligence agencies know and say, “What do you know about this guy?” You don’t mirandize him.

WILLIAMS: The President of the United States himself said there was a systemic failure in terms of intelligence gathering.

KRISTOL: And who was accountable for that failure?

WILLIAMS: Eric Holder is now accountable for all intelligence failures, including intelligence failures by the British and everybody else who didn’t understand what Abdulmutallab was up to? That seems to me to make you into someone who’s just trying to politicize this to beat the Obama administration and get rid of Eric Holder.

Update

On Meet the Press today, White House adviser David Axelrod pushed back on criticism regarding Abdulmutallab: “Over time they have had additional opporutinties to question; my sense is that he has given very valuable information. … We have not lost anything by how his case has been handled.”

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