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Brennan Digs Administration Deeper on Miranda Rights for Abdulmutallab

Obama's top counterterrorism adviser accuses Republicans of playing politics with national security.

1:49 PM, Feb 8, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Yesterday on Meet the Press, Obama's counterterrorism adviser John Brennan claimed that Republicans should have known, based on his Christmas Day conversation with them, that terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would be Mirandized:

I explained to them that he was in FBI custody, that Mr. Abdulmutallab was, in fact, talking, that he was cooperating at that point.  They knew that "in FBI custody" means that there's a process then you follow as far as Mirandizing and presenting him in front of a magistrate. None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point.

Congressional Republican leaders say Brennan's statement is very misleading: Boehner, McConnell, Bond and Hoekstra assert they were merely given a courtesty calls on non-secure phone lines, and it's absurd to claim they should have known Abdulmutallab would be Mirandized after 50 minutes based on their conversations.

Marc Thiessen writes that the facts don't support Brennan: "the Obama administration announced that its new FBI-led 'High-Value Interrogation Group' (HIG) would not necessarily Mirandize suspects it was questioning." So how were Republican leaders supposed to know Abdulmutallab would be Mirandized? The Washington Post reported on August 24: "Interrogators will not necessarily read detainees their rights before questioning, instead making that decision on a case-by-case basis, officials said. . . . 'It’s not going to, certainly, be automatic in any regard that they are going to be Mirandized,' one official said, referring to the practice of reading defendants their rights. 'Nor will it be automatic that they are not Mirandized.'" (The HIG was not actually set up, to the apparent surprise of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, when Abdulmutallab was captured.)

"I'm just very concerned," Brennan said yesterday, "on the behalf of the counterterrorism professionals throughout our government that politicians continue to make this a political football and are using it for whatever political or partisan purposes."

But now it's clear that Brennan was the one who was trotting out a partisan talking-point--unsupported by the facts--to attack Republicans yesterday. In fact, there's widespread agreement across the political spectrum that it was a mistake to Mirandize Abdulmutallab.

For more on the Obama's mishandling of Abdulmutallab, see Steve Hayes's editorial in the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

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