One of the several galling aspects of the recent campaign to convince people that the FBI can’t handle terrorism suspects is the galling hypocrisy of it. The Bush administration routinely had the FBI deal with terrorists. So did the Clinton administration and as far as I know all other administrations. John Brennan briefed Republican congressional leaders on the Pants Bomber case right away and “explained to them that he was in F.B.I. custody” and they didn’t voice any objection then. But in the new year, searching for a new issue, the GOP has decided to start insulting FBI interrogators and otherwise pretending to be shocked by the idea of criminals being arrested and treated like criminals.
Now the new story from the GOP leadership, apparently, is that they’re ignorant fools rather than hypocrites:
Sure enough, Sen. Chris Bond (R-Mo.) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republicans on the congressional intelligence committees, insisted that Brennan never specifically told them the FBI would Mirandize Abdulmutallab. “If he had I would [have] told him the Administration was making a mistake,” Bond said. The entire Republican leadership, including fact-averse Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House GOP leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). Apparently these men, who claim leadership on national security, know less about FBI procedure than the average movie-goer. Obviously the FBI Mirandizes suspects in their custody.
Of shows currently on television featuring FBI agents, I recommend Bones and White Collar. You will note that in no cases do they respond to criminal complaints by waterboarding suspects or holding them secretly in Bulgaria. By contrast, if you want a portrayal of the practical impact of what happens when cops don’t follow the rules, I think you should check out The Shield on DVD.