Oh! That Federal Judge…

In Crime, Politics on February 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

The Obama Administration has taken a lot of criticism over the decision to charge attempted Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab criminally.

And clearly, the administration could have handled some aspects differently.

But some of it has just been over the top to the point of you have to wonder about the well-being of some of the people speaking.

One of the strongest — or rather, loudest — critics has been Mitch McConnell, the Senator from Kentucky and the Republican leader of the Senate.

In a recent speech before the Heritage Foundation, McConnell ripped into the administration over its handling of Abdulmutallab, saying they were more concerned with  “reading him his Miranda Rights and getting him an attorney” than treating him as “a terrorist who could provide us with vital information to stop new attacks” and that Americans were “outraged” by that.

Of course, it turned out that despite warnings to the contrary, Abdulmutallab has been cooperating with investigators.

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote to McConnell, answering many of his criticisms, pointing out that the policies and practices used to determine the treatment of Abdulmutallab were consistent with what what done under the Bush Administration and that those policies “were not criticized when employed by previous Administrations.”

In other words, Um… Senator? Is it possible your criticisms are linked to the fact there’s now a Democrat in the White House and not a member of your own party?

Of course, McConnell wouldn’t be the first forget about the reality of the situation and try and score points for purely political reasons.

Holder goes on to write that “without a single exception” the US Government has — since Stptember 11th, 1001 — arrested and detained “under federal criminal law all terrorist suspects who are apprehended inside the United States.

He points out that in 2003, President Bush signed a policy directive stating: “the Attorney General has lead responsibility for criminal investigations of terrorist acts or terrorist threats by individuals or groups inside the United States.”

And — “the Bush Administration used the criminal justice system to convict more than 300 individuals on terrorism related charges” including Richard Reid, the would-be shoe bomber who “was advised of his of his right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney within five minutes of being removed from the aircraft.”

Meanwhile, former Federal Judge and Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Abdulmutallab should have been held in military custody, supposedly giving the administration more time to interrogate him and decide what to do about charging him.

The only problem, Holder points out, is that “the government’s legal authority” to hold someone “indefinitely without providing him access to an attorney” is “far from clear” and that “when the Bush Administration attempted to deny Jose Padilla access to an attorney, a federal judge in new York rejected that position, ruling that Padilla must be allowed to meet with his lawyer.”

Now, who was that judge?

Holder writes: “Notably, the judge in that case was Michael Mukasey.”

Oh. That Federal Judge.

  1. FYI, there’s a new Jane Mayer piece that makes many of the same points in longer form with direct input from Holder in the New Yorker –

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