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System Failure

The Christmas Day bomber was never asked specific questions based on the intelligence the U.S. government had already collected on him.

1:00 AM, Jan 21, 2010 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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So whatever information Abdulmutallab provided, he gave up in response to general questions about his activities, not in response to specific questions based on the intelligence the U.S. government had already collected on him. And within 24 hours — according to Senator Jeff Sessions, whose tough questioning left Mueller stuttering — Abdulmutallab was Mirandized and he stopped talking. (It would be nice to learn, from Mueller or someone else in a position to know, precisely when Abdulmutallab was read his rights.)

The administration's embarrassing performance continued even after the hearings had been adjourned. Blair's office released a statement intended to clarify his earlier remarks about the high-value detainee interrogation group — HIG.  

"My remarks today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs have been misconstrued. The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody. They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI's expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational."

The problem was not so much that Blair had not contemplated using the HIG on terrorists captured on U.S. soil — Duh! — but that it is not yet fully operational. And this is better? As Blair testified himself, the HIG was "started as part of the executive order after the decision to close Guantanamo." That was a year ago tomorrow. So the elite interrogation unit that was to have been keeping us safe after the administration banned enhanced interrogation and vowed to shut down Guantanamo Bay — it doesn't actually exist yet.

Barack Obama should call Scott Brown again — not to congratulate him, but to thank him for guaranteeing that this extraordinary incompetence does not get the coverage it deserves.

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