January 27th, 2010
11:10 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Fact Check: The 'Undiebomber' has spoken

(CNN) - Did the man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day clam up when read his rights?

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who delivered the Republican response to Obama's State of the Union address, included that assertion when he said the GOP had "serious concerns" over how the Obama administration treats suspected terrorists.

"Americans were shocked on Christmas Day to learn of the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit," McDonnell said. "This foreign terror suspect was given the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen, and immediately stopped providing critical intelligence."

McDonnell's assertion is narrowly true - the suspect, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, did stop talking to FBI agents after being read his rights. But he was questioned twice before then, quickly spilling that he was trained in Yemen by al Qaeda operatives and giving up information that "has already proved useful in the fight against al Qaeda," a Justice Department spokesman told CNN last week.

Numerous Republicans have argued that AbdulMutallab should have been placed in military custody and subjected to more extensive interrogation. They have been joined by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. But the Obama administration has argued that civilian courts are the proper place for cases like AbdulMutallab's.


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama • SOTU fact check
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Republican talking points.

    January 27, 2010 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  2. rjt

    Who knows what else could hav been learned from this guy. Obama needs to look at it that way and nothing else.

    January 27, 2010 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  3. right

    he was right, this guy should have been treated just like the terrorist's treated the Americans in the videos that were shown on the arab networks,

    January 27, 2010 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  4. Be serious......

    why would he have talked....he knew he would not be tortured..... would be read his Miranda rights..... and would be lawyered up at taxpayer expense.......

    He didn't say anything useful.....why would he? Because he likes Obama?

    January 27, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  5. A thomas

    He needed a water board session not Miranda that is for Americans

    January 27, 2010 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  6. Thomas

    who really cares about what a panel of so called experts have to say about the presidents speech, really?? no one on CNN is mentioning the statement about sound bites, and who cares about what they think about when certain topics were discussed at which point in the speech..this is the exact thing that was discussed..a little room full of people on can not agree on the color of crap...

    January 27, 2010 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  7. Joel

    Oh, for the love of... EVERYONE in the US has Miranda rights, not just US citizens. Take a basic civics course, McDonnell.

    January 27, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  8. jmccrea for SC

    There is not such thing as being narrowly true or narrowly false. If it is not true it's false. McConnell is too old to make up lies to support his agenda.

    January 27, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    CNN is still drinking the kook aid. Wake up and stop protecting those that put our lives at risk.

    January 27, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  10. porchhound

    50 minutes of "interrogation" while he was drugged...Cops spend more time than that on shoplifters...WHAT WAS YOUR POINT?

    January 27, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  11. Bobby

    (CNN) – Did the man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day clam up when read his rights?------- TO WHICH CNN says this is narrowly true lol. I don't call it narrow when he was read his rights after only 50 minutes of interrogation. NO time to investigate to form the RIGHT questions and come back to him.
    But CNN elected Obama now they have to defend him.

    January 27, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  12. valwayne

    The underwear bomber was read his Miranda rights within 12 hours of getting off that plane. They may have asked him some questions, but they certainly couldn't have interrogated him in that time. A careful interrogation takes days, weeks, possibly months to get all the possible information that might be useful and to insure the terrorists isn't just lying. In 12 hours they couldn't have gotten further than the terrorist cover story. We'll never know now if he was really answering truthfully and how much we might have gotten over a few more days or weeks. And isn't it funny that we still don't know who authorized reading him is Miranda rights and giving him a lawyer?

    January 27, 2010 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  13. Bob

    bob mcdonnell hopefully didn't say that without a smile. thats about a month after Christmas. he did talk. mcdonnell you are full of el toro popo.

    January 27, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  14. maryann johnston

    the PRESIDENT delivers a state of our UNION, enough said... there is no clause for a response...this political crap contributes to the divisions...makes independents sick...please stop giving either party of No equal time and let America hear what the President duly elected says..enough time is available on the news and talk shows for the opposition....tired of the gridlock, polittical blockage and simple partisan crapola

    January 27, 2010 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  15. AZgrammy

    What's the difference, eh?

    Shoe Bomber – Richard Colvin Reid

    Richard Colvin Reid, commonly known as Shoe Bomber, is a self-admitted member of Al Qaeda who was convicted by a U.S. federal court of attempting to destroy a commercial aircraft in-flight by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes.

    His motive was terrorism.
    Reid was immediately taken into custody after incident.

    Three days later he was charged in U.S. federal court at Boston, Massachusetts in a criminal complaint with "interfering with performance of duties of flight crew members by assault or intimidation".

    Crime was reported as carrying a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
    Judge ordered Reid to be held in jail pending trial due to seriousness of charges and high risk that Reid would attempt to flee.

    At that time, forensic results indicated Reid's shoes contained 10 ounces of C-4 plastic explosives, enough to blow a hole in plane and cause it to crash.
    During a preliminary hearing which was held on December 28, an FBI agent testified that forensic analysis had identified chemicals as PETN, primary explosive, and TATP (triacetone triperoxide), a chemical needed to detonate bomb.

    Prosecutor proceeded to obtain a grand jury indictment and on January 16, 2002, Reid was charged with eight criminal counts related to his acts of terrorism, namely:
    * Attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction,
    * Attempted homicide, placing an explosive device on an aircraft,
    * Attempted murder,
    * Interference with flight crew members and attendants,
    * Atempted destruction of an aircraft, using a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence,
    * Attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle.

    Reid pled guilty to all eight counts on October 4, 2002.
    January 31, 2003, he was sentenced by Judge William Young to Life in Prison with NO possibility of parole...
    Three Life sentences to be served consecutively…..
    Eight fines of $250,000 each were also imposed.
    During sentencing hearing Reid stated that he was an Enemy of United States and in league with Al-Qaeda.

    Though Reid proclaimed he was a soldier of Allah under command of Osama Bin Laden, Judge Young declared:

    'You are not an enemy combatant, you are a terrorist' ...
    'Not a soldier in any army, you are a terrorist.
    To call you a soldier gives you far too much stature.'

    January 27, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  16. waveney Alfred

    All this talk about the Christmas day Bomber,,,why was this man traveling to the USA with just a Visa, One-Way Ticket, no Passport..no Luggage and paid Cash... and a well dressed man came and vouched for him... man cannot be found...clothing no over coat or jacket... I beleive it was a set up by the CIA?

    January 27, 2010 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  17. Robert Culver

    Regardless of his feeling on the matter, he was in our borders and subject to our laws and our liberties. Once we start taking freedoms away from anybody we start to take them away from everyone.

    January 27, 2010 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  18. Stortz

    “McDonnell's assertion is narrowly true –“

    Which is to say… McDonnell’s assertion is WIDELY FALSE!

    January 27, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  19. against the grain

    Obama is an idiot to not torture this terrorist fanatic! stupid bleeding heart liberals will never learn. what is the worst thing that can happen to these terrorists... they either die or end up in an American jail. Either one is a cake walk compaired to the way they currently live. the usa even knows where these camps are in Yeman. But won't go after them. Foolish!!!!!

    January 27, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  20. Michael from Ventura

    The Governor of Virginia was a polished, refined, politically ambitious politician. The presdient was the real leader tonight and his hopes for America were more than evident. I wonder if the baggers and gop smirkers like Mitch McConnell know how repulsive they are?

    January 27, 2010 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  21. Winston Smith

    "Narrowly true"? Some fact check, Matt. McDonnell claims the Knickerbomber clammed up after being Mirandized; you then confirm precisely that in the next paragraph. While suggesting the "narrowness" of the Governer's veracity, you elide mention of the less-than-an-hour interrogation or the "system worked" and "he acted alone" blunders. And since when does the media swallow what a Justice Dept spokesman says hook, line and sinker?

    January 27, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  22. Randy Edwards

    We should have put those explosive underpants back on him and threatened to detonate them. Then, when he told him everything, we should have detonated them and blow his stuff off.

    The hell with what the rest of the World thinks about us. Law and principles is for losers.

    January 27, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  23. Ronald Morris

    Matt, your liberal bias is showing. Nothing narrow about the facts. Undiebomber was questioned twice without Miranda Warning and talked both times. As soon as he was offered the chance not to talk he stopped talking. If he had not been Mirandized he might still be talking.

    Question, since terrorists have 5th Amendment rights do they also have 4th? The technology exists to look through walls and see people and hear voices. Is it a civil rights violation to use this technology in the field without a search warrant? It is illegaql in the US according to the Supreme Court for police to use this tech without a search warrant.

    January 27, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  24. A disgusted former Republican

    The Refuseniks try to spin everything including their obstructionism. They are the party of idiots.

    January 27, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  25. John Ferris

    The point the Governor was making is that he probably would have given up even more information if he had not been given the legal rights of a U.S. citizen. Who knows what else he knew and what other plans are out their right now. Remember people, the "Undiebomber" was successful, the bomb was on the plane and ignited - the only reason why those people didn't die was because of luck that the bomb was a dud. Everyone needs to waken up, especially the far left (such as those here on the wonderful CNN – Communist News Network) and realize - these people will not wither and will not waiver, they want to kill us and they will keep trying. We need to question these people not give them attorneys and 5th amendment rights to silence! It just seems more and more like they will not waiver, but we will in this country.

    January 27, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
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