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. valwayne

    FIRE ERIC HOLDER: The insanity of Circus trials in NYC costing hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe billions! The insanity of asking a few questions for 50 minutes and giving an illegal enemy combatant his Miranda rights and a lawyer instead of interrogating him for information to save American lives. This is driven by Arrogance, Incompetence, and a radical left wing ideology. We can't fire Obama for the incompetence and damage to our national security for 3 more years, but ERIC HOLDER can be fired NOW!!! This man is a clear and present danger to our national security!!!!!

    January 30, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    The inept and weak presidents have always been from the conservative side of the political spectrum.

    January 30, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Crazy Harry

    Hypocrisy Maximus!

    January 30, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. A disgusted former Republican

    Glenn Koons – Did you forget that 9/11 happened on the Republican watch. If Republicans are so intelligent on terrorism policy, how was the destruction of the twin towers successful?

    Also, I seem to remember that the Supreme Court affirmed that the Republican version of military tribunals was UNConstitutional. Where have you been, asleep?

    You need to get your facts straight before you make your comments.

    January 30, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Slider

    If Progressives want a display of how far Obama's administration has alienated moderates and independents, then this example should hit close to home.

    It appears some of the rabid losers on this forum have failed to take notice...

    Which is a great thing for the rest of the country.

    November is going to be so nice.

    January 30, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Corey Schmitz

    You would think CNN would point out that her statement is full of factual errors and outright lies. Imagine a world with responsible media.

    January 30, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Jon

    I guess they forgot how the Bush admin. treated the shoe bomber..Soft on terrorists? I believe it was Obama giving the OK to take out the 3 pirates holding an American captive..Also there are twice as many drone attacks in Pakistan as there was under Darth Vader.

    January 30, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. coreywalker

    they seem to forget the biggest terror attack in history happen on their president watch.

    January 30, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Lynn

    Maybe the GOP would be happy if we invaded every country that might have a terrorist. Where do we begin; Iran, Yeman, North Korea, Indonesia, etc. The GOP just loves to bad mouth, as the old saying goes, they'll scream if their coffin's too short.

    January 30, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. dave

    Funny how I never , after 9/11 and the highly publicized failures of the CIA and FBI in the pre-9/11 Intelligence failures...never did we hear Senator COllins or any Republicans , talk of the "failure of the Bush Administration on terror" or of the Bush Amdinisration's incompetence'. I wonder why that is? Do Republicans only come crawling out of the woodwork when they think they can score partisan points? Where , for instance , were Senator Collins and her Republican colleagues, when BushCO was taking Clinton's budget surplus and running a war without taxing for it thus turning the surplus into a three trillion dollar deficit? They are out there now talking about how Obama is spending money (not mentioning that he's spending it to correct BushCo's m,istakes)...but where were their heartfelt complaints while Bush was doing it? PHONIES

    January 30, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. polly

    Typical Obama...it's his game.

    January 30, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. britello-fl

    Politicians are called politicians for a reason, they sell their souls to stay in office no matter what price we have to pay. Pass the chedder!

    January 30, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. Josh Henderson

    Our President takes time and go and listen to the ideas of the GOP, and this is what he gets. I beleive that he has been tough on terroist, he just sent a extra 30,000 troops to fight these people. And going after these individuals in all corners of the world. Give me a break

    January 30, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Diane Portland Oregon

    Poor republicans, this is all you have. Sad, Sad!!

    January 30, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Roger

    The military commission was not in place for the "Shoe Bomber" trial. Also, he was an American. The "Christmas Day" terroist was not. Finally, Obama accepts that we are at war and he acts as though captured enemy combatants should be treated as criminals. I wonder if Usama Bin Laden, if captured, would be tried as an ordinary criminal. Obama the stakes are high and you can't allow your striving for political success jeopardize each and every American. Each day American troops are fighting to protect our security and far too many have made the supreme sacrifice. As Commander of the military you are sending mix signals to the enemy at the expense of the American people. Remember, you were elected President of the American people not the world. With your lack of experience don't you think you should delegate this responsibly to someone who is qualified? Somehow your ego and arragance distorts your thinking. Get with it!!!

    January 30, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  16. Richard McCabe

    I do not get this attack on the current handling of this arrest compared to what was done by George Bush'sadministration. Where was this Senator then with her big irrate mouth. How short is their political memory in so many of these issues?

    January 30, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. condos, Ontario Canada

    If Obama walked on water GOP would condem him for not being able to swim like any good American can.

    January 30, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Frank Schultz

    The sad thing for me is that so many people are willing to advocate, actually demand, the mistreatment and abuse of people by our government for national security or "safety" reasons. Don't they understand the the rationale so many terrorists use is that the US and the western nations are destroying their culture, their way of life, and their beliefs? As a result the terrorists believe it is all right to commit terrorist acts. When we take on the same reasoning as the terrorists, we become terrorists. That is NOT what I want this country to become. The test of a great nation is how it treats people in the face of crisis and threat–so far we have failed. If we can't treat people with the rights that our constitution requires, it is a sad day for America.

    January 30, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Al

    Hey Susan, speaking of failures in your regards to Obama. Where in hell was G.W Bush on 9/11, where did he disappear for most of the day? Where was he when KATRINA snuck upon us,,,uh, apparently Bush was the only person in the country without TV when that heppened. Another failure of the GOPs,, Rudy Guilaini, ex prosecutor, why did all of the evidence from 9/11 disappear so fast. Apparently someone in the Bush administration wanted all of the evidence to disappear forever. The present day GOP is a laugh and a disgrace to America, however the Insurance companies and Corporate America love all of you self serving righteous hipocrites.

    January 30, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. LouAz

    Whine, whine, whine.
    You are a US Senator. Get legislation that specifies how this panty bomber should be held accountable for his actions. 9-11-01 was a long time ago. You have had a long time to realize there are no US LAWS that say what to do with this guy except common criminal law.

    You and the Bushies never did anything about this. You ignored what to do to someone except if they were on the ground in Iraq of Afghanistan. There you concured that it was OK to water board them, pull out their fingernails, rub them with pig guts, or shoot them. But you and the Bushies and all the other Flat Earthers shirked you responsibility about what "to do" with bad guys on US soil.

    Now you blame Obama ?
    It was you job to do for 7 years and you ignored it.
    Shut up and sit down. The adults will take care of this.

    January 30, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Doug

    The truth hurts.........omly this time, it almost killed 300 + AMERICANS!

    The Obama administration is more worried about giving a TERRORIST his "RIGHT'S" than they are about protecting the American citizens.

    50 minutes! And then, "you have the right to remain silent". Are you freaking kidding me?

    To have Susan Collins have to blast the Administration is fitting.

    What's next, is the administration going to bring charges against the 9/11 mastermind in civilian court? Or better yet, have the trials in NYC and give a platform for the terrorist to slam the country and have us spend millions of tax payer dollars defending him and providing security?....................Ooops, they are already doing that too.

    America, wake up. This Administration is a JOKE!!!!

    January 30, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Lilarose in Oregon

    OK, Susan Collins, in your high position on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, what do you and your fellow Republicans propose to DO about this?

    All Obama (and the nation) get from the Republicans is criticism. Why not go see Pres Obama (he has an open door policy) and talk with him about it–take some of your Republican buddies.

    But don't go until you have some constructive ideas!

    January 30, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Mike

    How did Obama forget to remind me to do my laundry??? How did we get to this point?

    January 30, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    The right wingnuts must think politics is like golf, where the lowest scores are best. After yesterday's session with the republicans, Obama walked away ahead 140 to 0. Truth does not matter to republicans, and it showed yesterday.

    January 30, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. rick reid

    as usual the Republicans still think they know everything about terror, I sometimes wonder who the REAL enemy to this country is, the terrorists or ourselves.

    January 30, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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