The Obama administration’s decision to treat Umar Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant rather than an enemy combatant is indefensible on the merits. It is also incredibly costly in terms of foregone intelligence. The administration’s combined arrogance and stupidity would be laughable if their consequences weren’t so serious.
Today’s Telegraph carries Philip Sherwell’s article quoting former Senator and 9/11 Commission member Slade Gorton on the issue. Speaking of Abdulmutallab, Gorton says:
“He was singing like a canary, then we charged him in civilian proceedings, he got a lawyer and shut up,” Slade Gorton, a member of the 9/11 Commission that investigated the Sept 2001 terror attacks on the US, told The Sunday Telegraph.
“I find it incomprehensible that this administration is treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue. The president has finally said that we are at war with al-Qaeda. Well, if this is a war, then Abdulmutallab should be treated as a combatant not a criminal.”
Why is the Obama administration treating Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant? It is an unbelievable fact that we have as yet no straightforward answer to this question. There is, in any event, no good answer to it. If we are at war with al Qaeda, as Obama himself asserted last week in the statement to which Gorton alludes, we should not be treating Umar Abdulmutallab (not to mention Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) like John Gotti.
JOHN adds: Check out, too, Marc Thiessen’s excellent piece which explains the unique value of intelligence gained from captured al Qaeda terrorists.
SCOTT adds: And check out Michael Barone channeling Evelyn Waugh.