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Mitch McConnell vs the FBI

By Matthew Yglesias on February 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm

"Mitch McConnell vs the FBI"

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I don’t think Mitch McConnell’s bizarre slam on the FBI has gotten the attention it deserves:

Appearing on Fox News, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused the president of treating Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab “as if he had robbed a convenience store.” But in a dig at the FBI interrogators overseeing the interrogations, the Kentucky Republican compared their work to that of longtime softball interviewer CNN’s Larry King.

“He was given a 50-minute interrogation,” said McConnell. “Probably Larry King has interrogated people longer and better than that, after which he was assigned a lawyer who told him to shut up. That is not the way to deal with a person in the war on terror.”

This is really nuts. I appreciate that conservatives have a longstanding disdain for the American legal system and the concept of constitutional rights, but normally they express that disdain in terms that avoid disparaging law enforcement personnel. The FBI is, as far as I’m aware, a highly competent investigative agency. Why on earth would you compare them to a second-rate cable chat show? If McConnell wants to have an honest debate about whether terrorism suspects should be interviewed by FBI agents or military personnel that’s fine, but I think we ought to be able to conduct that debate without insulting anyone. He really ought to apologize.

Meanwhile, I think the idea that a lawyer advising Abdulmutallab would tell him to shut up is a little bit strange. This isn’t the kind of situation where the cops need to sweat a confession out of the guy in order to secure a conviction. Making the case is going to be child’s play. Abdulmutallab’s only smart play to help himself is to cooperate with investigators—any competent lawyer is going to be telling him to put ideology aside and help the FBI.

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