The Blog

40 Years Max?

9:06 AM, Dec 28, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The Washington Post reported yesterday that "Abdulmutallab was charged Saturday in U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan with attempting to destroy an aircraft and with placing a destructive device onboard a plane, each of which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman informed Abdulmutallab of the charges during a hearing at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, where he is being treated at the burn unit."

So a maximum of 40 years in prison, and perhaps the chance to get time off for good behavior. Of course, we also don't get to interrogate him to find out who he was working with and what other plots are out there. If he were treated as an enemy combatant and transferred to military commission system, we could use Army Field Manual techniques without Miranda (not as effective as enhanced techniques, of course, but much better than standard police practice). We could use his non-Mirandized statements against him in military commissions, so long as the statements were not forcibly coerced and were otherwise reliable. Instead, it's three squares a day, the best legal defense the ACLU can provide, and maybe the chance for parole before the kids he was trying to kill on that plane even make it out of college.