There was thus no legal or policy compulsion to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant, at least initially, and every reason to treat him as an intelligence asset to be exploited promptly. The way to do that was not simply to have locally available field agents question him but, rather, to get in the room people who knew about al-Qaeda in Yemen, people who could obtain information, check that information against other available data and perhaps get feedback from others in the field before going back to Abdulmutallab to follow up where necessary, all the while keeping secret the fact of his cooperation. Once his former cohorts know he is providing information, they can act to make that information useless.
Nor is it an answer to say that Abdulmutallab resumed his cooperation even after he was warned of his rights. He did that after five weeks, when his family was flown here from Nigeria. The time was lost, and with it possibly useful information. Disclosing that he had resumed talking only compounded the problem by letting his former cohorts know that they had better cover their tracks.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Mukasey - Where the U.S. went wrong on the Christmas Day bomber