Yesterday on Meet the Press, White House adviser David Axelrod said of Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab: "We have not lost anything as a result of how this case has been handled." Axelrod said this despite the fact that Democratic and Republican senators, as well as former CIA Director Michael Hayden, have criticized the decision to read Abdulmutallab Miranda rights after a 50-minute interrogation and the failure to inform top intelligence officials of his detention.
Even Joe Klein, who competes on a daily basis to be the journalist most in the tank for Obama, criticized this decision: "[Abdulmutallab] doesn't have Miranda rights. It is entirely possible that we lost valuable intelligence as a result of this stupidity.
Politico's Glenn Thrush writes, however, that Axelrod's remark was actually a "pretty innocuous statement on the surface -- but it was instantly transformed into a potent GOP talking point by sharp-eyed forward observers," like my colleague Steve Hayes. Thrush merely asserts this, without explaining why he thinks the statement is innocuous. Didn't Axelrod say that we hadn't lost "anything" through the administration's handling of Abdulmutallab? And weren't there seriously objectionable decisions regarding the handling of Abdulmutallab? But Thrush doesn't address these questions. He simply tells it as a story of how conservatives distorted, or "transformed," an "innocuous" statement into a "potent GOP talking point."
Thrush also gets his facts wrong when he writes that conservatives wanted Abdulmutallab "interrogated by the military where he could lawyer up and shut down." The whole point of the conservatives's objections was to interrogate Abdulmutallab somewhere where he couldn't "lawyer up." Many conservatives wanted the CIA to have a chance to ask Abdulmutallab about his al Qaeda friends, but who wanted the military to interrogate him?