Eli Lake reports:
Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean, New Jersey Republican, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, Indiana Democrat, said U.S. intelligence agencies should have been consulted before the bombing suspect, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was granted constitutional protections under U.S. law, known as Miranda rights, and initially stopped talking to investigators.
The criticism from two of Washington’s respected former government officials comes as a bipartisan panel on Tuesday gave the Obama administration a failing grade for its efforts to date to prepare for and respond to biological-weapon terrorist attacks.
Echoing conservative critics and members of Congress, Kean (“I was shocked, and I was upset”) and Hamilton (“There did not seem to be a policy of the government as to how to handle these people”) can’t fathom why the Obami did not properly interrogate the bomber (with the requisite intelligence data in hand) to elicit potentially valuable information. Kean observes that “here is a man who may have trained with other people who are trying to get into this country in one way or another, who may have worked with some of the top leadership in Yemen and al Qaeda generally — and we don’t know the details of that — who may know about other plots that are pending, and we haven’t found out about them.”
The White House is nevertheless wedded to its law enforcement approach and after-the-fact clean-up preparations rather than the ferreting out of information potentially within our grasp. As Lake notes, on the same day the 9/11 commissions raised their complaints, the “Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism said the Obama administration is not addressing urgent threats, including bioterrorism.” The Obami assured us they are coming up with a ”new plan for a better and quicker response to bioterrorism threats and attacks.” How about simply questioning a terrorist we’ve apprehended? (That’d be new.) The best “response” is not more emergency vehicles to tend to the sick and dying, but a no-nonsense approach that seeks to gather information to prevent the attacks from occurring. That is precisely the tactic of the Bush team, which was not on some bizarre lark when it determined that it was going to employ enhanced interrogation techniques on those who were seeking to kill Americans (in large numbers). Putting aside the techniques to be employed, the Obami, to the shock of the 9/11 commissioners and most of the country, have essentially thrown in the towel on eliciting information from any terrorist we capture on U.S. soil. We certainly do need a “new plan.”
Obama has insisted that in tossing aside Bush-era anti-terrorism policies, he was defending our “values” or that we somehow “lost our way” in the aftermath of 9/11. It is increasingly clear, as with so much other blather than comes from the White House, that it is this administration that’s lost. There is a bipartisan consensus emerging that the Obami have behaved irresponsibly and that there is no moral or constitutional imperative to Mirandize terrorists and allow them to clam up. It’s become obvious to all but the reality-insulated Left that the moral preening is no more than a smoke screen for an ill-conceived and poorly executed set of policies.
Given the lack of support for the current approach and the urging of figures like Kean and Hamilton to take a second look at the Obami’s assumption, it seems there is plenty for responsible lawmakers to do. Scott Brown seemed to have a handle on this when he said that “our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation — they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.” Perhaps he can reach across the aisle and induce some of his new colleagues, just as we are seeing on health care, to set aside the foolishness of Obama’s first year in favor of some responsible governance.