Lack of Intelligence
The Weekly Standard
Stephen F. Hayes – Sun Jan 31, 7:00 pm ET
On January 27, the secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was roundly criticized at a meeting of the House Homeland Security Committee. She had ducked the hearing, which was about the Christmas Day terrorist attack, and lawmakers were animated. The surprise was that it was Democrats doing most of the attacking.
And earlier last month, at a Senate hearing on the same subject, she was roundly castigated for those comments and for the fact that she was not a part of the decisionmaking process that resulted in the terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, being mirandized fewer than 12 hours after he was detained.
Asked for details on the handling of Abdulmutallab, Gibbs has provided little information. At a White House briefing, he was asked about a media report that Abdulmutallab had been interrogated for fewer than 50 minutes before FBI agents read him his rights. Gibbs claimed that he did not know how long the interrogation lasted. But in an earlier appearance on Fox News Sunday, Gibbs had not disputed a claim from Chris Wallace that the interrogation lasted just 50 minutes. Gibbs further claimed that FBI interrogators were able to get all that they could out of him.. That, of course, is nonsense. Several sources confirm that Abdulmutallabâ's interview lasted 50 minutes. And while Abdulmutallab did share some information about his time in Yemen, sources say that intelligence professionals, particularly those who have been tracking Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, are furious that they did not have any opportunity to learn more from a person who might have fresh knowledge about the group and its leaders. One source told me that there is virtually no one in the intelligence community who will defend the decision to mirandize Abdulmutallab after talking to him for less than an hour.Â The failure to obtain more from Abdulmutallab is all the more significant because intelligence officials are conducting fewer interrogations today than at any time since the 9/11 attacks. There are three reasons: (1) The administration has dramatically changed U.S. interrogation policy, sources say, and there is widespread confusion about what is permissible; (2) the HIG, which is supposed to conduct interrogations, does not yet exist; and (3) there are fewer terrorists to interrogate because the administration prefers to kill them with drone strikes rather than capture them on the ground. The administration never misses a chance to make the last point; indeed, President Obama mentioned it in his State of the Union address. But you cannot interrogate a dead terrorist, which makes it all the more imperative that you get everything you can from any terrorists you do capture.