Our guest blogger is Ken Gude, Associate Director of the International Rights and Responsibility Program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
We are in day 47 of the conservative exploitation of a failed terrorist attack for partisan political purposes. The good news is that the public doesn’t appear to be buying it: A poll out today shows public support for President Obama’s handling of terrorism has increased since November. The support is merited because the Obama administration’s decisions are producing results, while the favored conservative alternative already failed when tried before.
Today’s installment is a diatribe from former Bush administration officials Dana Perino and Bill Bruck against John Brennan, which contains a number of misrepresentations and outright lies. Bear with me, it’s going to take a while to go through the whole thing.
First, Perino and Bruck attempt one of my favorite conservative attacks, going after the Obama administration for aiding the enemy by informing the public that the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is cooperating:
“The administration has spent the past two weeks telling anyone who will listen, including our enemies overseas (whom Abdulmutallab apparently is flipping on), that Abdulmutallab’s family convinced him to start cooperating six weeks after he was Mirandized.”
So, after weeks of partisan attacks by conservatives over its handling of Abdulmutallab specifically designed to scare the American people, when the Obama administration seeks to reassure the public that its chosen path is producing results, that too becomes grounds for more attacks. Essentially, Perino and Bruck are saying, “Its fine for us to attack you but you can’t defend yourself.” Right.
And notice the clumsy lie about when Abdulmutallab began cooperating:
“Abdulmutallab’s family convinced him to start cooperating six weeks after he was Mirandized.”
We know that Abdulmutallab’s family was instrumental in securing his complete cooperation with authorities beginning on January 17. That information was made public on February 2. So, the public learned of his cooperation six weeks after the attack but he had been in full cooperation with authorities for more than two weeks at that time. Perino and Bruck repeat this lie throughout the piece.
Perino and Bruck reveal their confusion about what it means to secure the cooperation from an individual being interrogated:
“Indeed, this is when Brennan himself writes that ‘[t]he most important breakthrough occurred.’ How, then, could Abdulmutallab have been ‘thoroughly interrogated’ immediately after he was arrested if ‘the most important breakthrough’ came six weeks later, and only after his family intervened? This glaring contradiction goes unaddressed.”
It’s not addressed because there is no contradiction. As soon as he was detained, and before he went into surgery for injuries he sustained during the failed attack, Abdulmutallab was questioned and apparently gave his interrogators useful information. When Abdulmutallab emerged from surgery he decided to stop cooperating and asked for a lawyer. He was then Mirandized. The breakthrough came when FBI agents gained the assistance of his family to persuade him to cooperate fully with the government. At least since mid-January, Abdulmutallab has been providing useful information that has already resulted in one terrorist cell being rolled up.
Perino and Bruck then suggest that Brennan was lying when he claimed that senior officials in the intelligence community and military were discussing the case before Abdulmutallab was Mirandized after he came out of surgery:
“Either the heads of the intelligence community lied to Congress several weeks ago when they all testified, under oath, they were not consulted, or Brennan is fibbing now.”
The “lack of consultation” canard has been a conservative favorite for weeks now. It rests on a faulty presumption, that Mirandzing Abdulmutallab was the cause of his decision to stop cooperating. We know that is false. We also know that not only did officials across the intelligence, military, and law enforcement communities discuss the case at an early stage, but that Republican Congressional leaders were also updated on Christmas night, and none of them raised any objections. A subsequent meeting of the National Security Council, including all of the principals, discussed in detail the issue of whether to proceed with criminal charges or chose military detention, and it was unanimously decided to follow the criminal route.
Perino and Bruck blast Brennan for stating the simple truth, that Mirandizing individuals seized in the United States has never before been considered controversial and is the law and longstanding policy of administrations of either party: Read more