January 27th, 2010
11:10 PM ET
4 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. shelleyt

    Exactly the same Federal Court that Richard Reid was tried in – by the Bush Admin. Same type of case and total hypocritical spin on the part of the GOP.

    January 27, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  2. Albert K. L.A., CA

    Thats right, that pesky constitution giving human persons rights. Only fictitious corporate persons should have human rights and only robots should be able to run for office.

    January 27, 2010 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  3. Nurse

    questioned for 50 min until justice dept team releaved the the first team and rights were given , he shut up and all forthcomming info was stopped , Why was he stopped ?Eric Holder ?

    January 27, 2010 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  4. Michele

    Americans are more shocked, sir, that a man who has been a Governor for a mere 11 days was chosen to deliver a speech that only reiterated the right's slams, and offered nothing in the way of hope that Republicans can realize they are elected to SERVE, not rake in corporate dollars and run for re-election on the backs of American initiatives. Obama is handling terror just fine...the fear mongering has got to stop! We must treat people with respect and dignity...had Bush not tortured so many people, al Qeada would not have so many angry recruits...that is the shocking truth, sir.

    January 27, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  5. Mirta

    The point is the guy is a terrorist and should be tried in a military tribunal and not given the same rights as USA citizens. He tried to murder American citizens plain and simple...the reason this is happening is because the final decision regarding the death penalty in a military trial is left the the POTUS! Wake up, people!!!! Obama is freezing the budget in 2011 and part of that directly impacts homeland security. In one breath he wants to freeze spending and then in the next breath he pledges monies to something else. He is in way over his head!!!

    January 27, 2010 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  6. Chris

    What does John McCain has to say on this subject.

    January 27, 2010 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  7. llinmpls

    So Gov. are you suggesting we torture this person? Man up and come out and say it or shut up. You are not helping.

    January 27, 2010 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  8. Jereme

    From the article:
    Did the man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day clam up when read his rights?

    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.

    How is what the senator narrowly true? It is true, the suspect was talking until he was read his rights and then refused to cooperate after being given his Miranda rights , which is what the senator said.

    The article makes it sounds as if the senator is twisting the facts when in fact it is the person who wrote this that is doing the twisting, it is articles and postings like these from the main stream media that make people distrust them, whatever happened to ethical reporting?

    January 27, 2010 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. Marcus

    'Numerous Republicans have argued that AbdulMutallab should have been placed in military custody and subjected to more extensive interrogation'... ok, they're talking about TORTURE?
    Rethorical question isn't?

    January 27, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  10. Marcus

    Mr. McDonnell,
    Before you say anything about how the 'proper handling' of guys and gals caught in the act like AbdulMutallab was, google Frederick Joubert Duquesne or Fritz Joubert Duquesne.
    A tip, he was the leader of the Duquesne Spy Ring.

    January 27, 2010 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  11. Marcus

    'Numerous Republicans have argued that AbdulMutallab should have been placed in military custody and subjected to more extensive interrogation'... ok, they're talking about TORTURE?
    You know... that stuff that was abhorrent to George Washington, Ulysses Grant and Eisenhower?
    Rethorical question isn't?

    January 27, 2010 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  12. John

    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.

    "McDonnell's assertion is narrowly true"

    What? Narrowly true? Anything he said before being read his rights can't be used against him! The Obama administration is more interested in protecting terrorists than protecting the american people.

    January 27, 2010 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  13. vwrtb

    Do we not have better things to argue about... If not then this administration is doing superbly!

    January 27, 2010 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  14. sara

    Just more Untruths.....he was Attorney General of Virginia when one of the Terrorist was tried in Federal Court in his State....and besides, I wasn't Shocked on Christmas Day. With All his Terrorist "expertise" why would he be surprise that Terrorist works 24/7.

    January 27, 2010 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  15. m smith

    They Lie

    January 28, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  16. Sue

    The underwear terrorist was only questioned/interrogated for 50 minutes--before he was read his miranda rights and lawyered up--which meant that he was NOT going to give anymore information..

    This is UNBELIEVABLE!!!

    Why is Obama, Holder, Napolitano, etc.---more concerned about the rights of terrorists--than they are the rights of US citizens to be safe/secure.

    January 28, 2010 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  17. Anonymous

    I want to know exactly what they have in mind when they want the bomber to be subjected to 'more intensive interrogation'. Like what? Waterboarding? Yeah, we don't do that anymore. Drop him in a secret black hole somewhere never to be heard from again? I don't think so.

    Not to mention that a military tribunal hasn't been convened in forever, while our criminal justice system, while not perfect, has been in place for a couple hundred years now.

    January 28, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  18. Dulcie - Denver

    I want to know exactly what they have in mind when they want the bomber to be subjected to 'more intensive interrogation'. Like what? Waterboarding? Yeah, we don't do that anymore. Drop him in a secret black hole somewhere never to be heard from again? I don't think so.

    Not to mention that a military tribunal hasn't been convened in forever, while our criminal justice system, while not perfect, has been in place for a couple hundred years now.

    January 28, 2010 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  19. in AK

    "But the Obama administration has argued that civilian courts are the proper place for cases like AbdulMutallab’s." are they serious? these are people wanting to kill americans!!

    January 28, 2010 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  20. Mike in SA

    How is this "narrowly" true? From media accounts that I have read (including CNN), AbdulMutallab clammed up immediately after being read his "rights". Just because he gave up some information prior to that doesn't mean he gave up everything he knew. We blew it big time.

    January 28, 2010 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  21. Sniffit

    Oh well. Ever heard of "fruit of the forbidden tree" in the context of criminal investigation? Yeah. If your position is that torture is justified by obtaining additional information (read: statements that may or may not be true)...maybe they have it, maybe they don't (hint: they're not that stupid)...then you have subscribed to the idea that abandoning our ideals is justified by convenience. True patriots die before they are willing to abandon their beliefs...they don't abandon them in the name of fear and convenience because, hey, fundamental belief systems come with caveats. The true cowards are those who believe in torture for the sake of convenience. I'll die AMERICAN, thank you...not some hollow shadow of one who supported throwing it all away because I wet my pants.

    January 28, 2010 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  22. NJ Drew

    Is this a joke? CNN wonders why ratings are down and they still have this left slanted view of the world. Let's see... a non-biased fact check would say, is it true that he stopped giving useful information after giving a Maranda statement. Well, did he... yes, he did. However, our 'impartial' fact checker injects that it's narrowly true, because s/he is omniscient and knows with 100% certainty that the bomber had no more useful intelligence information and/or would not have provided it in any case (despite the fact that he quickly divulged infomration initially). Well, actually, that does seem like it's a biased judgement when you look at it that way. Very disappointing. I really want to watch CNN again. It's such a shame. Ted Turner's gone, drop the left slant PLEASE. You originated this format and it's a tragedy for those who were loyal viewers for so long to see what has happened.

    January 28, 2010 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  23. CR

    McDonnell's overly staged and stilted performance was the lamest since Bobby Jindal's. Really lame.

    January 28, 2010 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  24. rachel cail

    I have great concern that the local fbi agents and the ag from the white house made the decision to his status without consulting homeland security, the director of the fbi and the military. my impression is the president is too limited to axlerod, and gibbs make decisions on issues that should be brought to other people,
    I wonder if
    robert Gibbs ever danced with the rockettes, since I have never seen such skilled tappdancing any time he has asked a question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2010 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  25. PL

    Why should everyone be happy to have obtained whatever was told by this bomber initially. Doesn't anyone think that there could be more valuable info that the bomber may spill that would give us great intel?
    Eric Holder should be fired. He never informed the intelligence community, the national defense dept, the homeland security director, etc when he made that decision.
    Apparently this was ok with the administration.

    January 28, 2010 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
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