Abdulmutallab

Gitmo’s Indefensible Lawyers; Legal counsel to some of the detainees went far beyond vigorous representation of their clients

In the Wall Street Journal, Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn ask the question “Doesn’t the public have a right to know?”

On the evening of Jan. 26, 2006, military guards at Guantanamo Bay made an alarming discovery during a routine cell check. Lying on the bed of a Saudi detainee was an 18-page color brochure. The cover consisted of the now famous photograph of newly-arrived detainees dressed in orange jumpsuits — masked, bound and kneeling on the ground at Camp X-Ray — just four months after 9/11. Written entirely in Arabic, it also included pictures of what appeared to be detainee operations in Iraq. Major General Jay W. Hood, then the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, concurred with the guards that this represented a serious breach of security.

Maj. Gen. Hood asked his Islamic cultural adviser to translate. The cover read: “Cruel. Inhuman. Degrades Us All: Stop Torture and Ill-Treatment in the ‘War on Terror.'” It was published by Amnesty International in the United Kingdom and portrayed America and its allies as waging a campaign of torture against Muslims around the globe.

“One thread that runs through many of the testimonies from prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq, and from Guantanamo,” the brochure read, “is that of anti-Arab, anti-Islamic, and other racist abuse.”

How did the detainee get it? More importantly, who gave it to him?

Majeed Abdullah Al Joudi, the detainee in whose cell the brochure was first found, told guards he received the brochure from his lawyer. An investigation by JTF-GTMO personnel revealed that Julia Tarver Mason, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, had sent it to Al Joudi and eight of the firm’s other detainee clients through “legal mail” — a designation for privileged lawyer-client communications that are exempt from screening by security personnel. Worse, the investigation showed that Ms. Mason’s clients passed it to other detainees not represented by Paul, Weiss lawyers. In all, more than a dozen detainees received a copy. … READ THE REST

Those lawyers who formerly worked for Republican administrations and that are criticizing Keep America Safe for calling al Qaeda’s lawyers what they are, i.e. al Qaeda’s lawyers, ought to read it two or three times. This is far from the first time Debra Burlingame has written or spoken out about the lawyers waging lawfare upon our Nation, the one al Qaeda continues to attack.

Many of the lawyers who freely took on the task of defending al Qaeda’s killers or advocating on their behalf not only undermined the legal underpinnings for detaining their clients, but also endangered our troops in combat against them abroad. Some call that indefensible; I call it treason.

Obama stuck with terror-stupid; including Biden saying waterboarding ‘didn’t work’

President Barack Obama has yet to make a “right decision” in the handling and prosecution of the deadliest Islamic radical terrorists captured on his and previous watches.

Obama says he has not made a final decision to move the 9/11 trial out of New York City but he indicates the trial and security costing a mere billion dollars from “his stash,” i.e. taxpayer dollars, will not be the deciding factor. Wherever it is held, Attorney General Eric Holder wants transparency. Apparently, Obama has finally found something he is willing to see C-SPAN conduct non-stop coverage of: the 9/11 trial. Do they still prefer a federal show trial? You betcha!

Meanwhile, Obama’s “intelligence” choir is singing the praises about a Bush 43 intelligence failure: Richard Reid being allowed to remain silent. They skip the verse about only the interrogations of other detainees led to Saajid Badat, his still shoe-bomb armed accomplice in England, ten months after Reid was sentenced. Nor do you hear that in response to Reid suing for his Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) to be lifted, Holder directed a filing be made that they would be allowed to expire on the same day he was touting them against Reid on the DOJ’s web site, June 9, 2009. [Editor — An emailer asked, “Is it possible the SAMS against Reid were lifted that day without his knowledge?” No. The Public Law requires the Attorney General’s approval of all SAMS actions.]

That is not the worst of it.

On November 18, 2009, Holder testified before the Senate that KSM and his co-conspirators would be held in New York City using those same SAMS and did not mention what was “coincidentally” happening in Denver. That same day, an Assistant U.S. Attorney entered Denver’s federal courthouse to tell a judge Reid’s SAMS had ended; Reid could talk to the press, was in general population, and is now communally praying 5-times a day with fellow jihadists in Supermax.

Obama got caught without a HIG-leaf when the Flight 253 bomber’s pants came down. We’ve since learned the decision-paper for creating High-Value Interrogation Groups was at the bottom of the administration’s in-boxes. Instead of ordering the aggressive interrogation of Abdulmuttalab, he was read his rights. Holder is negotiating with a terrorist, and with his lawyer present; Richard Reid is doing what Umar will not do — life.

“The HIG is up!” and running, we are now told. Yet the smart money says Eric Holder has directed they first offer those we have enough to bring to federal trial a sweetheart deal in return for their accomplices, followed by Miranda warnings, their mommies, and negotiations. No, McGruff the Crime Dog licking the faces of cooperating jihadists will not be on the table as that would be “torture.”

John Brennan told a Muslim group yesterday that a 20% recidivism rate among the Gitmo detainees Bush 43 released, “Isn’t bad.” When the choir sang harmony this morning — “Bush did it. Bush did it. Bush did it.” — they forget to chime in with Obama’s first release, Jose Padilla’s accomplice, the also dirty-bomb trained Binyam Mohamed. The two were arrested en route to opening up the gas mains beneath any suitable, fully occupied apartment building they could find in the U.S. They were to ignite an explosion that was to cause the building to collapse. It was to be like the World Trade Center towers, only without the planes.

This morning on Face the Nation Vice President Biden was asked if the administration could ever envision using enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically waterboarding as was used on KSM. Biden flatly replied, “No.” He paused and then added, “Because it didn’t work.”

Oh, no, Joe — it worked on the three of them. In fact, it worked the best when it was used the most; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave up to interrogators “50 percent of what we know about al Qaeda” and “conducted graduate level seminars” on their methods and operations only after he was waterboarded 183 times.

President Obama is stuck with the terror-stupid.

Reporter-at-large Jane Mayer conducted a series of recent interviews of Eric Holder for a lengthy piece just published in the New Yorker magazine. Near the end, she reports this:

“Late last month, at home, in Northwest Washington, Holder addressed those who have suggested that he and Obama are too weak to take on terrorism. “This macho bravado—that’s the kind of thing that leads you into wars that should not be fought, that history is not kind to,” he said. “The quest for justice, despite what your contemporaries might think, that’s toughness. The ability to subject yourself to the kind of criticism I’m getting now, for something I think is right? That’s tough.””

Tough? Perhaps. But is criminalizing the war the smartest way to protect the American people?

Richard Reid ‘A Mistake, Not a Precedent’ says Andrew McCarthy (actually, Eric Holder set the precedent)

Andrew McCarthy writes in the NRO today “We need not repeat the mistakes of Reid with Abdulmutallab.”

First, there was still very strong reason to believe that a second wave of attacks was imminent. Reid’s attempt strengthened these suspicions. In contrast to today’s relative calm, the country was on the direst kind of war footing: in fear of a raft of new domestic attacks only weeks after a strike deadlier than Pearl Harbor. In exigent circumstances, you tend to go with what you know, because you don’t have the luxury of time to think through something better.

Second, although no one seems to remember this now, the anthrax attacks had just happened. Again, they fortified the sense that the next mass-murder attack was just around the corner. In December 2001, it was all hands on deck to pore over available intelligence reports, look for patterns, and figure out where the next hit might come. Forging a new enforcement paradigm for the litigation of terrorism cases was not a priority.

McCarthy points out Reid was just one of many attacks we saw. Allowing Richard Reid to remain silent did nothing to prevent Flight 253. Instead of making that same mistake, President Bush had thousands of terrorists interrogated and dozens of attacks were prevented; not affording Constitutional rights to terrorists (besides Reid) prevented those attacks. Initially repeating a past mistake with Abdulmuttalab is not mitigated by the fact President Bush “did it” eight years earlier.

McCarthy went on to write:

That brings us to a third point Democrats would prefer to forget: “The Wall,” the internal regulations adopted by the Clinton Justice Department in 1995, had made it practically impossible for intelligence agents to compare notes with criminal investigators and prosecutors. Indeed, the Wall prevented the apprehension of two of the 9/11 terrorists, a dereliction that blew any chance to foil the plot.

The Wall was also a mistake, one that cost lives. I don’t hear anyone in the Obama administration saying we need to regard it as a precedent that binds our hands today.

My words: No, they don’t say it; Eric Holder just does it. He has a habit of repeating major mistakes.

Between August 1997 and October 2000, then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder was formally informed three times that the Wall was preventing the sharing of information between FBI intelligence and FBI criminal investigators.

Eric Holder did nothing to fix a mistake that would have prevented 9/11. By conducting a criminal investigation of the previous administration’s foreign policy, Holder greatly increased the same kind of risk aversion within our intelligence agencies that led to the Wall’s creation.

Lots of people die when Attorney Generals and Presidents make mistakes. Some number of us will live to regret the one just repeated with Abdulmuttalab; others will not be alive to regret it.

Obama administration misleads and repeats intelligence failures of the past

The Obama administration apparently never made or discovered a mistake not worth repeating.

Counter-terror chief John Brennan incredibly states the four Members of Congress he briefed on Christmas Day should have assumed Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab was read Miranda warnings. Yet the administration has given mixed signals on if and when terrorists will be provided a right to remain silent and a lawyer. For example, during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on November 18, 2009, in response to a question by Senator Amy Klobuchar, AG Eric Holder said:

“The people in the field have been making determinations about giving Miranda warnings or not for some time now. They have had thousands of people come into their custody; only a small number of them have been given Miranda warnings.”

Minutes before that, Holder refused to offer a clear opinion to Senator Lindsay Graham on whether custody begins (for the purpose of civilian trials and Miranda warnings) at the same time a terrorist is captured.

Congressman Pete Hoekstra is disputing John Brennan on both the facts and his presumptions:

Brennan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Hoekstra and other top Congressional Republicans were told on Christmas Day that the Detroit bomber was in FBI custody, and should have known that he would therefore be read his rights according to Miranda.

But Hoekstra tells National Review Online that it would have been unreasonable to infer any such thing from his phone call with Brennan, which was brief and carried over an unsecured line.

“He never brought this stuff up,” Hoekstra says, adding that the FBI was the natural choice to hold Abdulmutallab until a detainment and interrogation strategy could be settled. “No, I wouldn’t expect the military to be at Detroit Airport waiting to arrest somebody,” Hoekstra adds, but he thought the administration would carefully investigate alternatives and consult with national security principals before moving forward with Miranda rights and other criminal procedures.

Abdulmuttalab was not read Miranda warnings until approximately 11 PM Eastern time and it is likely Brennan briefed the four well before that time. While it is not clear Brennan then told them whether Abdulmuttalab had provided intelligence during his initial interrogation, we now know that he was not initially read the warnings. President Barack Obama has acknowledged that some number of agencies and personnel failed in their responsibilities prior to the Christmas Day attack and Abdulmuttalab stopped providing intelligence when read “his” rights. (AG Holder directed that he be Mirandized prior to the FBI’s clean team attempting to question him further.)

In addition, we know that on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, the White House Press Secretary’s Office intentionally leaked “on background” sensitive information to the media that Abdulmuttalab was now cooperating:

Gibbs explained that the White House felt the need to provide background briefings about what Abdulmutallab was now saying in order to “contextualize” the information after receiving inquiries from reporters.

In other words, the Obama administration was getting pounded for providing a foreign terrorist Constitution rights not afforded them in that document. The White House felt the need to push back politically. They leaked secrets, made the intelligence we are now getting from Abdulmuttalab less valuable, and then falsely implied that Senator Kit Bond had disclosed the information.

Stupid is as stupid does, that Richard Reid was read “his” rights was a poor example to follow; that too was an intelligence failure.

Reid was arrested not three months into our invasion of Afghanistan, while the hunt was still under way in Tora Bora, and several months before Jose Padilla, Binyam Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Ramzi Binalshibh were captured. Bush 43 could have ordered Reid turned over for military detention as his November 13, 2001 Military Order proscribed and yet he at least seemed to learn from his mistake; he ordered Padilla turned over for military detention and the rest eventually ended up at Gitmo.

After leaving Afghanistan, Reid traveled separately through several countries in the Middle East. His interrogation would likely have provided valuable intelligence on both al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the contacts he made during those travels. Only through the interrogations of other detainees was Reid’s accomplice, Saajid Badat, discovered and arrested, in England in November 2003. Ten months after Reid pled guilty, British police found Badat’s still armed shoe-bomb when they searched the home of his parents. Badat did not use his bomb for he had had a change of heart, immediately confessed to police, told them how to disarm the device, and pled guilty. Richard Reid was (and is) a committed jihadist who we should have interrogated.

Update, February 9, 2010: Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com reports that John Brennan is at it some more, in USA Today:

Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda. Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill. They will, however, be dismantled and destroyed, by our military, our intelligence services and our law enforcement community. And the notion that America’s counterterrorism professionals and America’s system of justice are unable to handle these murderous miscreants is absurd.

Ed also has a link there to Byron York’s deconstruction of Brennan’s op-ed.

No Miranda warnings needed: Sen Risch tutors DNI Blair and FBI Dir Mueller

Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) provided a tutorial on why Miranda warnings did not ever need to be provided to Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab. It took place on February 3, 2010, during testimony by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and FBI Director Robert Mueller before the Senate Intelligence Committee:

Attorney General Eric Holder decided on Christmas Day to direct that Abdulmuttalab be read his rights. By doing so, he prevented the immediate gathering of further intelligence because Abdulmuttalab elected to remain silent and speak to a lawyer before answering further.

Not reading him Miranda warnings would not have effected the ability to convict Abdulmuttalab or prevented a sentence of life in prison. Yet that intelligence might not have been available for use as evidence in the federal prosecution of others involved, thus forcing their prosecution by Military Commission. The war paradigm — the imminent risk of possible attacks by Abdulmuttalab’s associates — should have taken priority. Instead, AG Holder placed a higher priority on his preferred legal option to prosecute those involved in federal court.