Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Security Fail

For all the baseless whining about how the Obama administration handled the Abdulmutallab case, it appears increasingly obvious that the White House's approach was not only correct, but is paying dividends that benefit all of us. Eli Lake has this important report.

U.S. and allied counterterrorism authorities have launched a global manhunt for English-speaking terrorists trained in Yemen who are planning attacks on the United States, based on intelligence provided by the suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing after he began cooperating.

U.S. officials told The Washington Times that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, facing charges as a would-be suicide bomber, revealed during recent cooperation with the FBI that he met with other English speakers at a terrorist training camp in Yemen. Three U.S. intelligence officials, including one senior official, disclosed on the condition of anonymity some details of the additional bomb plots. [...]

Information about the bomb plots was shared with the FBI after Mr. Abdulmutallab's family traveled from Nigeria to help coax the former student into cooperating, after a period of about five weeks when he refused to help authorities.

Let's be really clear about this. Republican criticism hasn't just strayed badly from reality in the Abdulmutallab case; the more important takeaway is that if U.S. policy followed Republican talking points, we'd be less safe as a nation right now.

On the surface, one of the key GOP attacks is the notion that making Abdulmutallab aware of his rights meant that we were denied important intelligence about possible terrorist threats. It should be painfully obvious that Republicans have no idea what they're talking about -- Abdulmutallab has provided critically important information since getting a lawyer and being Mirandized.

But we can also go one step further and realize the depths of Republicans' misguided ideas here. If, for example, we'd locked up Abdulmutallab in a military prison and/or denied him Miranda rights, he wouldn't be cooperating right now.

The White House has defended the decision to treat Mr. Abdulmutallab as a criminal on the grounds that the suspect's family has coaxed him into cooperating, something that likely would not have occurred had he not been afforded access to counsel.

There's a "global manhunt" underway to prevent potentially deadly terrorist attacks precisely because the U.S. is operating under Obama's approach, and not Cheney's.

For anyone who takes American security seriously, this policy debate is over. The discredited right looks increasingly ridiculous with each passing day.

Yglesias: More Failure for Obama’s Law Enforcement Approach to Terrorism

If only we’d tortured that pants bomber guy we wouldn’t be facing these kind of massive military setbacks:

The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.

The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder, and was a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Spencer Ackerman offers the pragmatic case against torturing Baradar—the goal of our anti-Taliban military operations is to bring some substantial bloc of Taliban types to the table in a bargain, but nobody’s going to give up if they think that means being subject to brutal treatment.

Update Recent Newsweek profile of Baradar.
  • mcjoan (DK) adds:

    Dick Cheney would only celebrate this victory if Baradar were being tortured, I suspect. And on that note, Ackerman has an important post:

    Apparently Baradar has been in custody since last week and is being interrogated by both the Paks and us. (This is why the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group exists.) The ultimate point of fighting the Taliban is to compel them to give up fighting and accept some version of a post-Taliban order in Afghanistan. Torturing Baradar — which the Pakistanis have been known to do — is counterproductive to that effort. If we treat the guy respectfully, in a demonstrated way, it might spur a reconsideration of Taliban goals. I am not counting any chickens, but any hope of a game-changing possibility will be foreclosed upon if we or our allies torture Baradar. Let’s be smart — and true to Obama’s stated principles/executive order. If there was any doubt whatsoever, the Abdulmutallab case proved we don’t need to torture to get good intelligence.

    This really could be a major turning point--having as important a prisoner as Baradar in custody and treating him according to the Geneva Conventions is critical to this administration showing the world that it has broken from the lawless Bush administration's past. The success of capturing the most powerful Taliban leader ever caught in this war already sets this administration apart. Let his treatment at our and the Pakistanis' hand do the same.

Republicans really want to force John Brennan, President Obama's senior counterterrorism adviser, to resign. They just haven't been able to find a reason yet.

In the latest dust-up, Brennan compared detainee recidivism to the American penal system, and concluded that "one out of five detainees" released from U.S. custody "returned to some type of extremist activity," which "isn't that bad."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) used the comments to call for Brennan's ouster, telling Fox News this morning that any official who compares the two recidivism rates has necessarily "lost touch with reality." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) have also seized on Brennan's comparison as evidence that the senior counterterrorism adviser needs to go.

These guys really should use Google more before attacking White House officials.

[A]las, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a very similar argument during an AP interview in 2005. And she, like, Brennan likened the rates of recidivism among enemy combatants to that of American criminals.

"[B]y the way, recidivism isn't just a problem at Guantanamo; it is a problem with criminal justice as well," she said.

We checked the clips: None of the three Brennan critics so much as peeped when Rice made her comments.

Imagine that.

Keep trying, Republicans. I'm sure you're bound to think of something credible eventually.

And while the complaining at the kids' table keeps getting louder, grown-ups like Brennan can keep working on national security issues. By all appearances, the White House couldn't care less about the GOP campaign against Brennan, which is as it should be.

Cheney, devoid of credibility, makes mockery of security Feb. 15: Rachel Maddow condemns Dick Cheney and the cadre of echoing partisans who dishonestly attack the Obama administration for treating Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a civilian criminal when every single person who was arrested on a terrorism charge during the Bush administration was handled the same way, including being Mirandized.

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John Cole: Revenge of the DFH

This, if true, is hysterical:

Olbermann says a source in the Bayh camp cited “left bloggers” as a reason for his leaving. “People said mean things to me!” What a fucking loser.

In addition to patchouli, it appears the DFH has another weapon in his arsenal to defeat centrists- the sternly worded blog post. I think every centrist, right now, should be required to answer whether they could ever be driven from a race by “left bloggers.” Because if they can, then I think these Senators should, at the very least, be forbidden from voting on matters of war and national security.

And could someone deploy the Mother of All Blog Posts against Ben Nelson?

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