Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Underwear Bomber Follies; ...and the Party Never Ends

One of they key talking points of the Obama Presidential campaign was to do away with the Bush interrogation strategies, including the use of so called cohesive interrogation techniques (call it what you want, water boarding is a from of torture and torture works; one should make a decision on those grounds). After President Obama took office, starting in Aug 2009, he directed the establishment of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), which was intended to replace the Bush Administration's intelligence-gathering procedures for captured terrorist suspects. The opportunity to use HIG presented itself, a year later with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's (the underwear bomber) failed attempt to bring down a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day. What actually happened was a farce so outlandish, it would rival a Pink Panther movie with Eric Holder, US Attorney General as Inspector Hol-der', ala Clouseau'.

The first problem that cropped up is, who is in charge? The root of this is the Presidents inability to not only define terrorist, or to even define what terrorism is. Janet Napolitano called terrorists creators of man-made disasters. President Obama twisted belief that Islamic terrorism is a result of oppressive poverty. The reality is Islamic terrorists come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. In the Washington Post article, “5 Myths About Who Becomes a Terrorists”, Jessica Stern completely debunks President Obama's flawed worldview. “The reasons that some people become terrorists are as varied as the reasons that others choose conventional professions: market conditions, social networks, contact with recruiters, education and individual preferences. And just as the passion for justice that may animate a young law student is not necessarily what keeps him working long hours at a law firm while hoping to make partner, a terrorist's motivations for staying with his cause can also change”. It's as simple as this, is a terrorists a criminal or an enemy combatants. At least with President Bush everyone knew the US considered terrorists as enemy soldiers, most guilty of crimed against humanity.

First we have Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (let's just call him Umar), somehow getting by Amsterdam's Airport security. After talk of a “sharped dress man”, first he didn't have a passport, then he did, then he didn't, it turned out Umar “was” being watched by the CIA, and he was let onto the plane, so they could follow him to a identify his Al Qaeda “higher up”; oops! Once the bomb fizzled and burned, Umar was arrested and taken into custody at Ohare Int Airport by the FBI and Inspector Hol-der', the FBI's prosecutor So what happens next? Does Hol-der' talk with Napolitano, Head of Homeland Security (and the TST)? No. Does he discuss options with Dennis Blair, the Director of Homeland Security, who mans the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group? No. Does he ask Michael Leiter, the head of the National Counter Terrorism Center? No. Instead, he sends in cold (no background information) and FBI interrogator, who talks with Umar for 50 minutes, calls it good and Miandizes him. 50 Minutes! Robert Gibbs, the White House Press secretary said, "Well, FBI interrogators believe they got valuable intelligence and were able to get all that they could out of him,"

I will never forget the congressional hearing where Napolitano, Blair and Leiter were sitting together at a table at Congressional Hearing, Sen. Susan Collins, the panel’s ranking Republican: “Were you consulted regarding the decision to file criminal charges ... in civilian court?” They all looked at each other and one at a time they said, Nope, Not me, Uh-Ah (okay the really said “I was not”). When Blair was asked about the use of the HIG, he said, “"That unit was created exactly for this purpose," Blair told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. "We did not invoke the HIG in this case. We should have." Blair had to later clarify his remarks and admit the HIG was not yet operational! Further, Blair said it never dawned on them that the HIG would be used on a suspect arrested on US soil. Huh?

THEN!...Then!...then. The piece de resistance; the pinnacle of naiveté and self serving idiocy. As Inspector Hol-der' and the other national security heads are looking for a desk to hide under, Sen Diane Fienstein comes to their supposed rescue and announces the the world, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is talking again. With those few words, any information that was of any value was compromised. At the very least, Inspector's Hol-der's' incompetence seemed to have had the usual Clouseau success, until the information was leaked. I know know there is no intelligence left in Washington, but I know there are US spooks somewhere in this country, who are sitting at their desks, elbows on the top, forehead cradled in their hands and slowly rocking their heads back and forth; sorry man.

There's more, but this is the jest. Again, the way Bush looked at this was, since 911, the US was at war with terrorists. Any terrorists captured were prisoners of war; that's what Guantanamo Bay was, a POW camp. Remember all those WWII films. Do you try prisoners of war in a civilian court? or do you hold them until the war is over? Granted, there are some POW's that have committed crimes against humanity ala Nurenburg; in those cases you have a military tribunal and try them. Inspector Hol-der' is also attempting to try the 911 arrested terrorists in a civilian court in New York. In a court system that has a Constituional guarantee that you are innocent until proven guilty, President Obama has said, of 911 suspect, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, "I don't think it will be offensive at all when he is convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him." and Sen. Patrick Leahy said, "He's going to be convicted - that's the important thing. We show the world that our judicial system works."
In other words he will have a fair trail and then he will be shot. Is this the example the senator wants to show the world on, not only the strength but the fairness of our courts? AND KNOW!; And Know! And know, after months of jabbering, political pressure seems to be sufficient to reverse Inspector Hol-der' and try the 911 suspects with a military tribunal. There is a god, he doesn't like terrorist and apparently doesn't think much of incompetent prosecutors either.

As a final caveat, what seems to be lost in all this, is that the information we can extract from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is much more important then prosecuting him. The idea that all Inspector Hol-der' could think about was a successful court case, shows the Obama Administration really doesn't care; they really don't care. The proper response to the underwear bomber publicly should have been very little. Just like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The underwear bomber should have disappeared of the face of the earth for a while. No, I don't mean torture him. I mean take a couple of months and extract every bit of information, useful or not, out of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Then once your done, you figure out what you are going to do about him. This is not supposed to be about a posturing President and his Attorney general, it's about keeping American citizens safe. Remember us?

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