Undie-bomber talks without torture

Contrary to Republican claims, Abdulmutallab, who tried to blown up a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day,  has been cooperating with federal authorities, answering their questions about his connections to al-Qaida. Experts on interrogation have long known that torture — and even extreme duress — can lead to false confessions. The best information is gleaned when interrogators take the time to try to establish a relationship, as they seem to have done in this case.
From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit on Dec. 25, started talking to investigators after two of his family members arrived in the United States and helped earn his cooperation, a senior administration official said Tuesday evening.

Mr. Abdulmutallab, 23, began speaking to F.B.I. agents last week in Detroit and has not stopped, two government officials said. The officials declined to disclose what information was obtained from him, but said it was aiding in the investigation of the attempted terrorist attack.

“With the family, the F.B.I. approached the suspect,” the senior administration official said, speaking to reporters at the White House on the condition of anonymity because of the pending legal case. “He has been cooperating for days.”

The cooperation was first disclosed during a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, as the suspect’s interrogation became the subject of an intense political debate over whether he initially stopped providing information after he was read his Miranda rights and received a lawyer. The administration was seeking to refute the notion that he was treated differently from any other terrorism suspects since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The White House hastily called a briefing on Tuesday evening to discuss the new details of the case. The senior administration official provided this account:

Two counterterrorism agents flew to Lagos, Nigeria, on Jan. 1. Before their departure, the agents spent days getting briefed on information in the case. In Lagos, the agents met with C.I.A. officers, who provided contacts among the suspect’s family, friends and other associates.

The two agents moved to Abuja, the capital, “to gain an understanding of the suspect,” and ultimately located two family members of Mr. Abdulmutallab, the official said. The relatives, whom the official declined to identify, agreed to cooperate because they “disagreed with his efforts to blow up American targets.”

The agents and the two family members flew back to the United States on Jan. 17. They met with the F.B.I. to discuss a way forward. After meeting with Mr. Abdulmutallab for several days, the official said, the family members persuaded him to talk to investigators.
“The intelligence gained has been disseminated throughout the intelligence community,” the official said, adding, “The best way to get him to talk was working with his family.”

Another federal official said Mr. Abdulmutallab had provided information about people he met in Yemen, where he is believed to have receiving training and explosives from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a branch of the terrorist network.

“He’s retracing his activities over there,” said the official, who would discuss the case only on the condition of anonymity. “You run to ground what he tells you, validate it and follow up. You build a relationship. It’s a pretty standard process.”

155 comments Add your comment

Joel Edge

February 4th, 2010
7:27 am

Well, there ya go. If we establish a relationship with bombers and sundry terrorist they’ll spill their guts. Sounds like a plan.
And if this guy had succeeded? There would be no need for this relationship stuff. Sounds like an after the failure plan. His and ours.

Peadawg

February 4th, 2010
7:55 am

Only Democrats believe terrorists deserve some sort of “fair” trial and “fair” interrogation.

Jo Yo

February 4th, 2010
7:56 am

Get a life mike.

mike

February 4th, 2010
7:58 am

Jo Yo –

Thanks for the useless comment. You think I care any more about your opinion than you do mine?

Joel Edge

February 4th, 2010
8:02 am

Jo Yo
Have to agree. I pretty much disagree with everything CT writes. I’ve had no problems.

Bubba

February 4th, 2010
8:02 am

These quotes seems to contradict your point:

“One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.

“It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohammed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not.”– Eric Holder, 2002

And then, answering a question from Paula Zahn about John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban:
“Well, I mean, it’s hard to interrogate him at this point now that he has a lawyer and now that he is here in the United States.”

Transcript is from CNN

quod erat demonstrandum

February 4th, 2010
8:06 am

Hmm, sounds like the crotch commando is smarter than the President – at least he is talking to the other side.

Chaps

February 4th, 2010
8:07 am

“Government officials” covering AG Holder’s rear by claiming the panty-bomber is cooperating. Raise your hand if you believe them.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 4th, 2010
8:12 am

Encouraging to see the leftist view, that playing patty-cake with terrorists will always yield the best intelligence. And that harsh questioning of any sort, without Miranda cautions, always constitutes torture. Doesn’t make me feel any safer, but it is encouraging to see the leftists honestly disclosing their views.

ghostwriter

February 4th, 2010
8:12 am

I just thought of something. Why is Nigeria on the list of states that support terrorism and not Saudi Arabia? Also, why the rush to classify terror suspects as enemy combatants and try them in military courts as if they are not granted legal counsel? Also, doesn’t classifying them as enemy combatants, i.e., prisoners of war, them permit UN inspector to monitor their treatment? Someone please enlighten me if I’m wrong about this.

Bob

February 4th, 2010
8:25 am

Eric Holder and Obo lie. Holder should be in jail for selling pardons in Clinton’s last term. Tucker is trying to defend a bad call by Obo.

The Seeker

February 4th, 2010
8:27 am

NO PLEA DEALS FOR TERRORISTS!!!

Bob

February 4th, 2010
8:28 am

Ghostwriter, you are wrong, kill them on site.
However, some classes of combatants may not be accorded POW status, though that definition has broadened to cover more classes of combatants over time. In the past, summary execution of pirates, spies and franc-tireurs [2]have been performed and considered legal under existing international law

Peadawg

February 4th, 2010
8:29 am

Looks like Obama and the Dems really do “pal around with terrorists.”

jesus

February 4th, 2010
8:30 am

turn the other cheek….

quod erat demonstrandum

February 4th, 2010
8:30 am

Folks,

Please remember, the Geneva Convention does not apply to these cowardly terrorists. It only applies to uniformed, organized and clearly identifiable combatants.

In addition, it applies to state v. state conflicts.

Guerrilla warfare is not covered.

I do wish it did cover them. Then a person involved in sabotage, espionage or other terrorist activities, out of uniform, can be summarily tried and executed.

Peadawg

February 4th, 2010
8:34 am

I wonder how Cynthia, Obama, and all the other Democrats would feel about terrorists if one of their family members was killed by one. I wonder if they would still want a fair trial and fair(non-torture) interrogation.

resno2

February 4th, 2010
8:36 am

They have been able get this guy to talk because he is nothing more than a not very bright foot soldier, and not intelligent enough to have planned this himself.

resno2

February 4th, 2010
8:37 am

How would obama feel if one of his family members WAS one?

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
8:39 am

I think you have a great point about this terrorist being pretty low in the food chain. I really don’t think he knows much. BTW, if one of Obama’s family members was one what? A terrorist?

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
8:41 am

Peadawg, The American system of jurisprudence already deals with that issue quite rationally. If a family member were killed by a common criminal — or a terrorist — you’d want to shoot him or slash his throat yourself. At least, I would. That’s why we’d don’t allow family members to sit on juries. Judges, lawyers, even police officers must recuse themselves if a family member is involved.

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
8:42 am

Guerilla warfare was not covered because, at that time, most major combat was between states with uniformed militaries.

Peadawg

February 4th, 2010
8:44 am

So Cynthia, if one of your family members was killed by a terrorist, would you still defend them like you’ve been doing?

M Percy

February 4th, 2010
8:47 am

QED, some more supporting material.

Under Article 47 of Protocol I (Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts) it is stated in the first sentence “A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.”

And therefore are not protected by the combatant & POW provisions, if I read it right.

1. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar rank and functions in the armed forces of that party;
(c) Is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict;
(d) Is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and
(e) Has not been sent by a State which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

2. A mercenary is also any person who, in any other situation:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at:

(i) Overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or
(ii) Undermining the territorial integrity of a State;

(b) Is motivated to take part therein essentially by the desire for significant private gain and is prompted by the promise or payment of material compensation;
(c) Is neither a national nor a resident of the State against which such an act is directed;
(d) Has not been sent by a State on official duty; and
(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of the State on whose territory the act is undertaken.

mike

February 4th, 2010
8:49 am

Cythia-

Please let me know what I have done to deserve being banned and having my posts removed.

Was I vulgar? Did I use hate speech? Did I violate the visitor agreement in any way?

Or did I just commit the indefensible sin of calling for your removal? Why are you exempt from the same exact criticism that you put forward?

I scoop ;~] Uleak :>o

February 4th, 2010
8:51 am

The Waistbandito Bomber presents a torture challenge. He had severe burns over half his body. I doubt there was much more pain we could have inflicted upon him.

Playing good cop first was a good idear. I suppose we could have threatened to buy Abdul a Prius and let him drive away. Or forced him to watch the final few remaining prime time Leno shows.

But if we got the info, and it pans out, then there can be no arguing with success.

I like the GOP plan for the 911 terrorists: Invade a random country. There is no need for the GOP to brag about what they’d do to the Abdul’s of the world. We all saw it. The real thing in real time.

And our country will never trust lunatic fringe hotheads again.

RLJ

February 4th, 2010
8:52 am

CT, then would you support a revision of the Geneva Convention agreement to include guerilla warfare combatants and/or terrorists? That maybe off topic so feel free to say so. Just wondering.

mike

February 4th, 2010
8:53 am

ghostwriter –

“Why is Nigeria on the list of states that support terrorism and not Saudi Arabia?”

(I posted this answer earlier, but Tucker took it down because, as you can see, my language is quite offensive.)

Because Saudi Arabia’s government is one of the harshest enemies of Al Qaeda. They are even more threatened by AQ than we are.

“Also, why the rush to classify terror suspects as enemy combatants and try them in military courts as if they are not granted legal counsel?”

Because the goal in legal matter is to find justice. The goal in military matters is to win the war. Locking up terrorists is more about taking them off the battlefield than it is to seek justice.

Obama knows this. That is why he has already said that they will lock up KSM forever, regardless of the outcome of the trial.

“Also, doesn’t classifying them as enemy combatants, i.e., prisoners of war, them permit UN inspector to monitor their treatment?”

Well, I think you mean the Red Cross and they have been visiting Gitmo for years.

Any other questions you need answered?

mike

February 4th, 2010
8:55 am

“I like the GOP plan for the 911 terrorists: Invade a random country.”

Yup. Iraq was totally random. We never went to war with them and they were never in violation of the UN sanctions that were the conditions of their surrender.

No difference between Iraq and Canada, right?

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
8:56 am

Indeed, RLJ, I would support such a revision. Most foreign policy analysts believe that the wars we will be fighting in the future will involve stateless terrorists, warlords, narcoterrorists, etc. The civilized world needs a framework in which to deal with them. Our approach to the law — and our respect for it — is among the things that distinguishes us from the uncivilized world.

Scout

February 4th, 2010
8:58 am

Ms. Tucker:

I think the title of your thread is incorrect. He is now known as the “eunuch-bomber”.

By the way ……… the new intelligence out there is that Islamic terrorist doctors from London are now implanting explosives in the breasts of Islamic terrorist women for future use as needed.

You guessed it …………. the “boob bombers” will soon be upon us.

I’m serious ………. Google it. Saw it last night.

P.S. ……….. and if he doesn’t talk – you waterboard him !

mike

February 4th, 2010
8:58 am

I like how the left are calling this guy things like “the Undie Bomber” or “Waistbandito”, as if it would have been less serious if the 300+ people had been killed by a bomb in the guys underwear.

All of your partisan flippancy aside, this guy was extremely close to being successful. This is according to the Obama admin.

The left dismissal of the threat of this guy because they are too busy giggling over the word “underwear” is a good example of their lack of seriousness when it comes to terror.

quod erat demonstrandum

February 4th, 2010
8:59 am

M Percy,

Good points, never thought of the terrorists as merc’s.

That throws a new light on it. wonder what the Geneva Convention deals with merc’s –

2. A mercenary is also any person who, in any other situation:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at:

(i) Overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or
(ii) Undermining the territorial integrity of a State;

seems they would be treated most harshly.

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
8:59 am

Mike, If, in fact, you posted this before (this is the first time I’ve seen it), the post must have had several links. If you are as sophisticated about our blogging software as you claim, you’d know that the software automatically rejects posts that include links. They bog everything down.
Now, if you want to participate in this blog, stop whining.

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
9:00 am

There are plenty of countries that are in violation of UN sanctions, but no don’t invade them, Mike.

Joel Edge

February 4th, 2010
9:03 am

The only problem with the “civilized world” dealing with the uncivilized is the definition of civilized. Might as well say: How did the Romans deal with the Gauls and Visigoths? Not to well. Nice intellectual discussion though.

mike

February 4th, 2010
9:04 am

What Tucker and the rest of the national security dilettantes refuse to understand is that the goals of capture and detention are different in war than they are in civilian matters.

The goal of the civilian legal system is to mete out justice to the guilty and to exonerate the innocent. The goal of the military in wartime is to take enemy combatants off of the battlefield, either by catching them or killing them.

We have never given or prisoners of war civilian trials because we just wanted to keep them off of the battlefield until the war is over. That is what we should be doing now. Obama sort of acknowledges this when he says the KSM will be locked up forever, regardless of the outcome of the trial.

If we are not going to let these guys go anyway, giving them a show trial just undermines our legal system. If the left was actually thinking this through, they would understand this. Instead, they operate as they have for nine years now: with reflexive reaction against all Bush policies, no matter how sensible.

Joel Edge

February 4th, 2010
9:06 am

“the software automatically rejects posts that include links” Really? I seem to remember seeing links here before. New standard?

quod erat demonstrandum

February 4th, 2010
9:06 am

Mike,

I think you are wrong on Iraq and the violations of the surrender accords from the first Gulf War.

Iraq was in violations of many of the sanctions and sections related to the surrender.

You must study and read about the material and medical assistance that Iraq provided after we invaded Afghanistan. We followed top leadership into Iraq, this was one of the many reasons we went into Iraq.

I personally think it was also to tell Iran to stay out of Afghanistan. At that time, I think Iran would have helped the afghan’s but when a conflict broke out on their other border, they blinked and did nothing overt.

Scout

February 4th, 2010
9:06 am

One more time:

“When civilized man can no longer stand the horror or war and refuses to fight, then he will surely be killed or enslaved by the uncivilized who can.” Author Unknown

RLJ

February 4th, 2010
9:07 am

Regarding revisions, on one hand I see the point. If in a combat zone, someone places a bomb that targets a military structure or target, I think that person is an enemy combatant. However, if someone boards a plane with civilians and attempts to destroy that plane, it is terrorism. Whatever laws apply in that case should be applied. The Geneva Convention shouldn’t be revised to treat such people as enemy combatants.

neo-Carlinist

February 4th, 2010
9:08 am

listen, this information neither supports the “fair trial” crowd, OR the “enemy combatant” crowd; because we don’t know how much is accurate. you people need to consider the concept of disinformation. it is used by intelligence types, especially in counter-terrorism operations. I accept that the “enemy combatatant” crowd wants a swifter form of justice (battlefield justice), and I also accept that any suspect can give interogators bogus information (lawyered-up in court, or at Gitmo). the thing is, intelligence AND law enforcement both require the investigation of leads, so why try/execute this guy quickly. I think the one good thing about this case and this debate is we (USA) can play “good cop” and “bad cop”. regardless of how far up or down the terrorist food chain this guy is (as opposed to KSM), dead terrorists can’t rat out their contacts, and it’s just a hunch, but this guy doesn’t strike me as “hard core”. and either way, let’s say he provided viable, “actionable” intelligence, if a team of CIA operators or SEALs or private contractors wiped out a cell in Yemen, or Pakistan or Somolia, do you think we would ever know about it (in real time)? the he said/shes said stuff is just politics and it has no bearing on the actual hunting/killing of bad guys.

mike

February 4th, 2010
9:09 am

“Mike, If, in fact, you posted this before (this is the first time I’ve seen it), the post must have had several links. If you are as sophisticated about our blogging software as you claim, you’d know that the software automatically rejects posts that include links. They bog everything down.
Now, if you want to participate in this blog, stop whining.”

As usual, you are speaking from utter ignorance. Not one of the posts that were removed by your team had a single link in there. I guess I shouldn’tbe surprised that your argument is rooted in ignorance of the facts.

Say what you want, but you did ban my IP until I overcame that and you also took down completely civil posts.

I am not whining, but you sure are lying.

“There are plenty of countries that are in violation of UN sanctions, but no don’t invade them, Mike.”

Yeah? How many of them were ones that we had been at war at 10 years earlier? How many of them were shooting at our planes when enforcing the UN no-fly zone? How many of them were refusing UN mandated WMD inspections?

Your argument is pathetic, but there is nothing new about that.

real fan

February 4th, 2010
9:15 am

Since niether the geneva convention or the constitution cover terrorism I say we write our own pact. Catch em , torture them in the worst ways possible until they talk and when you think theyve told you everything cut theyre heads of with a rust boyscout knife and hang there dismembered bodies on ellis Island facing the world trade center , with a note saying WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

mike

February 4th, 2010
9:16 am

” I accept that the “enemy combatatant” crowd wants a swifter form of justice (battlefield justice)”

Wrong. We want the combatants off the battlefield. Justice is a secondary consideration in war.

Obama knows this. That is why he has said that KSM will be locked up forever, regardless of the outcome of his show trial.

mike

February 4th, 2010
9:17 am

quod –

“I think you are wrong on Iraq and the violations of the surrender accords from the first Gulf War. Iraq was in violations of many of the sanctions and sections related to the surrender.”

I think you misread my statement. We are on the same page here.

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
9:18 am

If I banned your IP address, there was nothing civil about your posts.

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
9:22 am

What if torturing them in the “worst way possible” only yields to bad information that sends our intelligence officers on time-wasting snipe hunts?

ctucker

February 4th, 2010
9:23 am

neo-Carlinist, I think you’ve made excellent points.

Peadawg

February 4th, 2010
9:27 am

If y’all want to post links, just put spaces in it. www. ajc. com

see?