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Three Different Accounts of Abdulmutallab's Interrogation

What's the truth?

11:45 PM, Feb 1, 2010 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Based on the instructions from Washington, the second interview was conducted by different FBI agents and others with the local joint terrorism task force.
Such a move is not unusual in cases where investigators or prosecutors want to protect themselves from challenges to evidence or statements.

By bringing in a so-called "clean team" of investigators to talk to the suspect, federal officials aimed to ensure that Abdulmutallab's statements would still be admissible if the failure to give him his Miranda warning led a judge to rule out the use of his first admissions.

Even if Abdulmutallab's statements are ruled out as evidence, they still provided valuable intelligence for U.S. counterterrorism officials to pursue, officials said.
In the end, though, the "clean team" of interrogators did not prod more revelations from the suspect.

Having rested and received more extensive medical treatment, Abdulmutallab was told of his right to remain silent and right to have an attorney.  He remained silent.

In a story published last Friday, the Washington Post attempted the first rewrite, claiming that new details suggest "that Abdulmutallab, 23, clammed up even before he was informed of his right to remain silent -- a warning that could have come later had he been placed in military custody."

Their selective account, which accuses Republicans of politicizing the case, relies on a "partial chronology provided by an administration official, and supplemented by interviews with additional federal sources." The Post reported that Abdulmutallab spoke to FBI agents for 50 minutes -- consistent with the AP account.  But here the chronology changes.  After a 5pm teleconference among law enforcement and intelligence officials, according to the Post,

"Agents again visited Abdulmutallab about 9 p.m., finding him more combative and allegedly citing jihadist intentions. He asked for a lawyer. FBI agents then read him his rights. Abdulmutallab was charged in a criminal complaint the next day, after a meeting of the president's national security team in which the Justice Department outlined its approach."

That's a key difference.  In the AP account, a clean team is sent in to Mirandize Abdulmutallab.  In the Post account, Abdulmutallab asks for a lawyer on his own and "FBI agents then read him his rights."

A Los Angeles Times story from Monday includes the same two details as the Post story from Friday. "The decision to advise the accused Christmas Day attacker of his right to remain silent was made after teleconferences involving at least four government agencies -- and only after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had stopped talking to authorities, according to knowledgeable law enforcement officials."  And in the LA Times piece, like the Post piece, the chronology has changed.  According to the Times: "The source said that Abdulmutallab was not read his rights until he made it clear that he was not going to say anything else."

Here is the LA Times chronology:

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