by Jacob Laksin
After being roundly condemned for charging Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant – a decision that granted the would-be Christmas bomber the right to remain silent after a brief 50-minute interrogation session – the Obama administration this week went on the offensive against its critics. Not only is the abrupt end to Abdulmutallab interrogation not the intelligence failure it appears to be, the administration insists, but it actually vindicates its view of terrorism as a criminal matter.
The administration’s new line is that Abdulmutallab has been cooperating with investigators since last week and has even provided intelligence in several ongoing terrorism investigations. This is, to be sure, welcome news. Yet the administration’s decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights, instead of treating him as an enemy combatant under the laws of war, remains deeply troubling. It also epitomizes the shortcomings of the administration’s view that the criminal justice approach is the most effective one against the country’s terrorist enemies.