In a letter today to Senator Mitch McConnell, Attorney General Eric Holder defended his decision to have FBI agents read Miranda rights to Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and to charge him in civilian court. Holder challenged the claims of some critics that the presence of a lawyer would in any way hurt U.S. intelligence collection from Abdulmutallab.
"I am...confident that the decision to address Mr. Abdulmutallab's actions through our criminal justice system has not, and will not, compromise our ability to obtain information needed to detect and prevent future attacks."
But the attorney general made the opposite argument back in 2002. In an interview with CNN on January 28, 2002, Holder expressed concern that the U.S. government was unlikely to obtain valuable intelligence from American Taliban John Walker Lindh because he was in the United States and had a lawyer.
CNN's Paula Zahn asked: "How much pressure should they put on this man to get information out of him as they interrogate him?"
Holder said: "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. But to the extent that we can get information from him, I think we should."
Holder went on to say that whatever information the U.S. government would likely come from an attempt by Lindh and his lawyer to seek a plea bargain with the United States.
He was right in 2002.