January 30th, 2010
11:44 AM ET
5 years ago

Republican slams Obama administration on terrorism


Washington (CNN) – A usually mild-mannered, moderate Northeastern Republican takes an aggressive stance Saturday as she delivers her party’s weekly Internet and radio address.

In her roughly five-minute address, Maine Sen. Susan Collins takes issue with how the Obama administration has chosen to treat Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused to trying to blow-up an American airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

“Less than one hour. That’s right, less than one hour,” Collins says in this week’s Republican address. “In fact, just fifty minutes. That’s the amount of time that the FBI spent questioning AbdulMutallab, the foreign terrorist who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day. Then, he was given a Miranda warning and a lawyer, and, not surprisingly, he stopped talking. How did we get to this point? How did the Obama administration decide to treat a foreign terrorist, who had tried to murder hundreds of people, as if he were a common criminal?”

After noting a number of acknowledged failures on the part of the intelligence community relating to AbdulMutallab, Collins turns her attention to what she views as another misstep.

“But, today, I want to discuss another failure – a failure that occurred after AbdulMutallab had already been detained by authorities in Detroit – an error that undoubtedly prevented the collection of valuable intelligence about future terrorist threats to our country,” Collins says.

“Once afforded the protection our Constitution guarantees American citizens, this foreign terrorist ‘lawyered up’ and stopped talking,” says Collins. “When the Obama administration decided to treat AbdulMutallab as an ordinary criminal, it did so without the input of our nation’s top intelligence officials.”

Collins suggests that critical information may never been learned because of the decision to advise AbdulMutallab that he has the same constitutional rights as American citizens, adding that the administration “appears to have a blind spot when it comes to the war on terrorism.”

“There’s no other way to explain the irresponsible, indeed dangerous, decision on AbdulMutallab’s interrogation. There’s no other way to explain the inconceivable treatment of him as if he were a common criminal,” the Maine Republican says.

Collins is currently the Ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. She was previously the committee’s chair.

Read the full text of Collins' remarks below:

“Less than one hour. That’s right, less than one hour.

“In fact, just fifty minutes.

“That’s the amount of time that the FBI spent questioning Abdulmutallab, the foreign terrorist who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day.

“Then, he was given a Miranda warning and a lawyer, and, not surprisingly, he stopped talking.

“How did we get to this point? How did the Obama administration decide to treat a foreign terrorist, who had tried to murder hundreds of people, as if he were a common criminal?

“On Christmas Day, the skies above Detroit became a battleground in the War on Terrorism.

“That day the bomb being carried by Abdulmutallab failed to detonate. Thanks to the courageous action of the passengers and crew, nearly 300 lives were saved on the plane and more lives were spared on the ground.

“The government’s security system, a front line in the war against terrorists, failed long before Abdulmutallab boarded his flight to the United States.

“It failed when his visa wasn’t revoked, even though his father had warned our embassy in Nigeria about his son’s ties to Islamic extremists.

“It failed when the intelligence community was unable to connect the dots that would have placed Abdulmutallab on the terrorist watchlist.

“It failed when this terrorist stepped on to the plane in Amsterdam with the same explosive used by the ‘Shoe Bomber,’ Richard Reid, more than 8 years ago.

“But, today, I want to discuss another failure – a failure that occurred after Abdulmutallab had already been detained by authorities in Detroit – an error that undoubtedly prevented the collection of valuable intelligence about future terrorist threats to our country.

“This failure occurred when the Obama Justice Department unilaterally decided to treat this foreign terrorist as an ordinary criminal.

“Abdulmutallab was questioned for less than one hour before the Justice Department advised him that he could remain silent and offered him an attorney at our expense.

“Once afforded the protection our Constitution guarantees American citizens, this foreign terrorist ‘lawyered up’ and stopped talking.

“When the Obama administration decided to treat Abdulmutallab as an ordinary criminal, it did so without the input of our nation’s top intelligence officials.

“The Director of National Intelligence was not consulted.

“The Secretary of Defense was not consulted.

“The Secretary of Homeland Security was not consulted.

“The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center was not consulted.

“They would have explained the importance of gathering all possible intelligence about Yemen, where there is a serious threat from terrorists whose sights are trained on this nation. They would have explained the critical nature of learning all we could from Abdulmutallab. But they were never asked.

“President Obama recently used the phrase that ‘we are at war’ with terrorists. But unfortunately his rhetoric does not match the actions of his administration.

“The Obama administration appears to have a blind spot when it comes to the War on Terrorism.

“And, because of that blindness, this administration cannot see a foreign terrorist even when he stands right in front of them, fresh from an attempt to blow a plane out of the sky on Christmas Day.

“There’s no other way to explain the irresponsible, indeed dangerous, decision on Abdulmutallab’s interrogation. There’s no other way to explain the inconceivable treatment of him as if he were a common criminal.

“This charade must stop. Foreign terrorists are enemy combatants and they must be treated as such. The safety of the American people depends on it.

“I’m Senator Susan Collins from Maine. Thank you for listening.”


Filed under: GOP • Homeland Security • Obama administration • Susan Collins • Terrorism
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. hobart

    So now, even the moderate Republicans are historical revisionists, who lie and hope no one notices? Or perhaps, the neo-Nazi ultra right wingnuts have them scared?

    Why is that when lots of terrorists were prosecuted in civilian courts under the Republican administrations, Republicans said nothing? And now, when we have a Democrat administration, suddenly it's the end of the world. When the media presses them on this, all they do is dodge the question. Why can't the media hold these Republicans accountable for their hypocrisy (when we do something, it's OK; when you do the same thing, it's treason)?!

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    January 30, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Mark S.

    Yes, Susan, let the torture begin. Its so very American to torture the enemy. I call on all good Americans to support government sponsored torture. (sarcasm intended)

    January 30, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    I don't believe this Administration can handle Terrorism, I just don't think it can.

    They failed on many failed circumstances, failed on many unorthodox ones, failed on many instances, etc. They just failed and I agree, our Consitution is a risky and complicated one, there really is no measure how we should handle Terrorists in the long run. Let alone what a self-defition of bad is to you may not be the same as someone else.

    They seem to get things wrong and out of place, they can't seem to focus on their agenda, whihc distracts them from many unusual practices from their job.

    And they do suck at Terrorism, and I thought at least they can get the job done but they blow at it. I don't trust em.

    January 30, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Glenn Koons

    For weeks now, Collins, Sessions, McCain and others have complained to the WH in formal letters, without replies, that terrorists do not deserve American Miranda rights and trials in civil courts. They are right as SCOTUS has affirmed and Presidents from FDR have confirmed. Obama and Holder are dead wrong and their wrongheadedness would get us all killed. Note that the MSM, CNN, MSNBC made it seem that Shumer and DIFi were the brave Dem Senators who demanded the move from NYC for KSM. That was balderdash and in fact, the Dems had no idea of who, what or where terrorists, (their man made disasters and not Islamofascists) would go. There is talk among Dems to send the trial to Gov's Island. Oh puleeze. Send these thugs down to Gitmo and try them in military courts. Obama is simply tone deaf and inept to boot on anything having to do with this war or our military. God save us from this naif and his Dem minions in Congress.

    January 30, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Dave C - NJ

    This kid was low level cannon fodder. Warriors for thousands of years know not to let attackers, especially suicide attackers, know anything. Because they may be captured and tortured.

    Get off it, lady. It's not like we caught Bin Laden.

    January 30, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Evelyn Carlisle

    This is a very critical point made, will this argument be presented to the president?? I'd like Pres. Obama's reasoning.

    January 30, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. billy123

    Again business as usual from the GOP. It is odd where were these same Republicans when Presdient George W. Bush did the same thing. If the GOP wanted all this to handled by the military has anyone asked the question what these people did not be brought to justice under President George W. Bush from 9/11 though 01/19/09?

    January 30, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. dan smith

    A weak President. Obama is childlike,believing that we can sit down and play nice with extremists who want nothing more than to kill as many Americans as they can

    January 30, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. Dave C - NJ

    Two words that will shut her up: Shoe Bomber.

    January 30, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. GE in MD

    Somehow the "facts" as Sen. Collins reports them do not match some other reports I've seen elsewhere about how this guy has continued to spill some info for many hours after apprehension.

    I'd like to see a credible report with details that all sides of this debate about how the goood should have been handled can agree to.

    January 30, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. phyllis B.R.

    Apparently, Senator Collins was disturbed about yesterday's mtg. between the President and the GOP – that 2 months after the bombing to release her statement to the Press. Or did it take her that long to prepare her statement?

    January 30, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Dave C - NJ

    Did you clows demand for Bush's reasoning when the Shoe Bomber was treated the exact same way? Didn't think so. Hmmm.

    January 30, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. Jim

    All this proves is that there is no such thing as a moderate Republican and that there is no limit to what they will do to politicize anything that happens. Their sole objective is power and they'll do or say anything, no matter how hypocritcal, to get it. Shane on Susan Collins and her Republican co-conspirators....

    January 30, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Dave C - NJ

    I love how you conservative fools keep saying Obama wants to be nice to terrorists. This kid is going to be tried and executed. How is that nice exactly? Just keep repeating your lies folks. It's good entertainment on these boards.

    January 30, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  15. Robert

    Gee and I used to respect her as being honest and fair.... Obama did nothing different than Bush did with the shoe bomber. Where was her indignation then?

    I suppose next she will be claiming Obama wasn't really born in the USA and will be a featured speaker at the Tea Pary convention....

    Are there any republicans left who have the integrity to be fair and honest???

    January 30, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. A disgusted former Republican

    So why is Senator Collins condemning the President for following former President Bush's policy? Do the Republicans have different standards for Republican and Democratic presidents? Oh yes, I forgot; Republicans have no standards, morals, or ethics! They are the American Taliban!

    January 30, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  17. Jake

    Who's soft on terrorism? Really didn't want to go here, but since you brought it up Ms. Collins, why don't you take a look at the number of American civilians that were killed by acts of terrorism in the first year of each of the past two presidents' first years?

    January 30, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. Jimmy James

    Don't forget to call him the "alledged terrorist" afterall he is innocent till proven guilty. UGH! Obama came out shortly after and said he acted alone, then we find out he was trained and supplied in Yemen. Thats not acting alone. None of his national security or defense leaders were consulted. The FBI inteerogation team he announced last year hasn't even been invented yet. Holder decided by himself. I know liberals will cry the shoe bomber was treated this way but that was 2 months after 9/11 and we didn't have anything in place to deal with them yet and he did act alone. To have the trials in NYC will cost 200 million + a year. We don't have that money to spend. Send terrorists to Gitmo.

    Healthcare and Gobal Warming are a higher priority than terrorists. It isn't Obamas fault, its his liberal advisors and cabinet members are guiding him. If and when we get attacked again, they will just go to the Democrat playbook and blame Bush.

    January 30, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. anonymous reader

    I know Sen. Collins would like us to believe she is unbiased and impartial in her comments, but how do we know what shes saying isn't skewed? Why in the world would ANYONE take such a loose stance on terrorism – don't get me wrong I don't believe Obama would either. I suspect shes not revealing the whole picture, but seems like that's always the case. My advice to the American people is – don't take sides from a biased speech you heard or article you read without knowing all the facts.

    January 30, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Jo-Ann, uniondale, ny

    Ms. Collins were you at the meeting yesterday when our President spanked the republicans on every question.....no teleprompter as you people always say...I'm sure the repubs wish they had not invitied President Obama, cause he did an excellent job answering every question..

    January 30, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. anderson n carolina

    Fear ...is all the GOP have got! After yesterday's smack down you'd think they'd lay low for awhile.

    January 30, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Eva from Tampa

    Has she not listened to a thing the President was saying? Why did it take her 2 months to issue a statement? Could it be that her party is intellectually outpaced by our brilliant President? She should be ashamed of herself.

    January 30, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. Jerry in NC

    Since when did a senator become an expert on interrogation and obtaining information? What's the matter senator, did they not keep him long enough to torture him? Why don't you and the others like you, stop publicly second-guessing and criticizing the President and his administration, and support him like a patriotic citizen should? It's your public critcism and silly opposition that gives terrorism incentives. They see the constant in-fighting as a weakness in our government and country, more than they do the the way we deal with prisoners. But you politically hungry headline seekers don't see it that way, because you are too busy trying to score voting points by attacking your President every chance you get. This has become like a cancer in this country, ever since President Obama won the election. There has not been any patriotic support from any of the republicans in this country. Only constant criticism, obstruction, and division.

    January 30, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Can you imagine a republican faulting someone else for their own failures and weaknesses? It is just like these right wingnuts to blame everyone else for getting the country into a hellish mess, instead of facing reality.

    January 30, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Susan Collins has now drifted into never never land.

    January 30, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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