January 30th, 2010
11:44 AM ET
4 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. Jason

    Susan – too funny.

    It's so obvious the republicans are trying to position themselves as the party of "I told you" if one of these terrorists ever gets lucky.

    Everything the GOP does is politically motivated. Everything – even this.

    Sickening.

    January 30, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. marcus (seattle)

    it is SO funny to EVER hear a republican slamming a democrat on terrorism.. wasn't it a republican-led house, a republican-led senate and a republican president who ran the country when 2000+ americans were killed, in the worst terrorist attack on our nation's soil ?? you bet it was.. the republican party has no standing to give ANY advice on how to stop/handle terrorism.. they're actually the poster-child for how NOT to stay ahead of terrorists !!!

    January 30, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Brian in NC

    Susan, your belief that yours is the only party that knows how to handle things is exactly why this country is in the mess it find's itself in. Your narrow minded, elitist (the real kind, not the made up kind that your party tried to tack onto Obama) and holier than thou attitude and mindset is not only so phony it is seen by all, but it is the real danger that our country faces.

    Wake up and realize that your tactics and ways are not working anymore.

    January 30, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. MaineLyn

    Susan Collins is my senator and I hold her in high esteem as a honest politician. However, when she blames the "Obama Administration" while citing the wisdom of four cabinet members under the "Obama Administration"... I realize that she has it wrong. I appreciate her voice and her courage to be a moderate in a polarized congress. You can't say that four of the highest ranking members of the administration are not part of the administration.

    January 30, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. dentalleagulservise4higher

    She has no clue about her proclaimed statement. Her party just got the smack down by Obama on national TV and they didn't stand up to defend their own agenda. That event proves that the GOP and its members had no plans to take care of the US problems nor have any clue how to combat the US financial crisis, healthcare, environment, and etc.

    US of America....the GOP, RNC, and Sarah quit her the Governers job is a hilarious joke. They are no longer the leaders in the growth of the US future.

    January 30, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. lucy

    I think it is really scary that our own citizens have no confidence in our system of justice. I can understand the issue of congestion and so on in downtown New York – but all these complainers seem to have forgotten our embarrassing internment of Japanese and so on. Why are we so afraid that our maximum security prisons, well, aren't secure? There are empty prisons in this country that could certiainly work just fine, while providing jobs. I am really tired of the GOP yammering all the time, trying to cause panic. Do something useful, for a change, and stop just complaning.

    January 30, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. WIL

    I commend all of you for even lisiting to sen. Collins her voice to me is like finger nails on a chalk board the Republicans have no room to talk on this subject anyway. Every time they try the blame game it only arodes the little credibilty they have. Look we dodge a big bullet on this, to try and place blame for policitcal gain is just wrong I would rather have the problem of weather or not we questioned him long enough or weather we will recover anyone from the wreackage think about.

    January 30, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. Mickey

    Republican politicians have become nothing more than terrorists...domestic terrorists. As usual, nothing of substance from the GOP, only derision and obstructionism. This, my fat, floppy-eared, long-trunked friends is fact. These politicians are feeding you fear, hatred, and bigotry. And there is no turning back for the GOP. They have already sown the seeds, and to do a complete turn-around now will show them as weak, which, in reality, they are. GET WITH THE PROGRAM!

    Fear will not win...hatred will not win...bigotry will not win.

    January 30, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. John in Tampa

    PS- there is enough evidence and witness now to take care of AbdulMutallab personally, so there is no reason not to politely wring out anything else he knows. You just say anything MORE is not admissible. Since all it can be is a bit more info about bad guys in Yemen, it's not needed for him anyway.

    January 30, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. annie against biased news

    barry 'chavez' obaama is handling the terrorist situation exactly as he wants to – giving them more freedoms and bolstering their attempts. This so-called president cares nothing about our beloved country or WE THE PEOPLE.

    January 30, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Sarah

    Boy it just doens't get through the GOP's head does it? Stop criticizing and get to work on the issues of job creation, the economy, education, Health Care Reform and stop your FEAR SCARE TACTICS........you know Democrats, Republicans or Independents know matter who is in the WH......you will not be able to stop the Terrorists.......they will strike at their will when they want and it could be under this President just like they did under Bush/Cheney.......no matter how hard we try to stop them, they are already here, in this country just waiting ....... and if the terrorist don't get us the radical white supreme conservative republican groups will start and all out civil war........

    January 30, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. Fed up Monority

    They were schooled yesterday.....yet they learned nothing.....not the type of people I want representing me.

    January 30, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. stevetall

    Just another Republican who doesn't understand the rights of the accused. It's not just for Americans, ding-dong. It's for everyone, citizen or not. Why? Because it's the right thing to do. No one, not even you, Senator, is above the law or beneath the law.

    That's what 'rights' are all about. You have to believe in them and provide them to everyone regardless of the political benefit of catering to the less-than-smart electorate.

    Shame on you, Senator. Should we have tortured the man? Would that have made you feel better? Shame, shame, shame.

    January 30, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Vigla

    Any Repuublican who touts this as weakness from Obama then is calling Bush and Cheney weak too. Not only did Bush and Cheney allow 9/11 to happen, they then allowed the Anthrax attacks, Reid the shoe bomber, attacks on our embassies, etc.

    You hypocrites that call yourselves Republicans are HATERS, pure and simple. You hate that you're in the political wilderness, you hate that the era of Conservatisim is over after a long (WAY too long) 30 years, you hate that we have a black president too. You hate anything proposed that does not fit the Limbaugh test and refuse to work with anyone to compromise. People will see through this and you will remain in the minority for many years because you are unable to demonstrate why you should lead. You are all unamerican punks.

    January 30, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. El Kababa

    "Treason" is the only word to describe this kind of irresponsible Conservative rhetoric. This is just the old "soft on Communism" rhetoric. They just crossed out "Communism" and penciled in "Terrorism."

    1. The president cannot choose which criminals have Constitutional rights and which ones don't. The Constitution says that any criminal has the right to a fair jury trial and a lawyer. Conservatives, of course, have never given much thought to the concept of "God-given rights" except when discussing the right of corporations to buy elections and bribe elected representatives (which they call "free speech").

    2. This is not World War II. Since 9-11-2002, about 10,000 Americans have been killed by terrorists in America or overseas. During the same time period, 232,000 Americans have been shot and killed by other Americans in hunting accidents, gang wars, barroom brawls, family feuds, and drug deals gone wrong. During that time, 211,000 Americans have been killed in automobile accidents. During that time, 61,000 Americans have been killed by aspirin overdose or allergy. We could save more American lives by enforcing seat belt laws than by fighting the "War" on terrorism.

    3. If we get to pick which people have God given rights and which people don't, then I say that Conservative voters are a much greater danger to our democracy than all the terrorists on this planet. They do not deserve the right to vote, but our Constitution grants it to them whether they deserve it or not.

    That's only my opinion, of course, but I am never wrong.

    January 30, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Bob C

    Republicans appear to be cowards. Afraid that our system of government isn't strong enough to deal with 7th century thugs. Too bad they are so willing to give up the ideals upon which this great nation was founded.

    January 30, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. Lori in Texas

    So much for President Obama's attempt to convince the GOP caucus that we must work together for the American People. The Repubs are right back to criticizing him for everything he does/doesn't do even when they've done it before him! Richard Reid anyone?

    Typical Republican response to everything:

    Party Before Country and Profits Before People!

    January 30, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Independent

    God bless President Obama for trying to work with Republicans, because the hypocritical reciprocation from the GOP is transparent nonsense.

    Sen. Collins knows full well she enabled the Bush administration the RESPECT to prosecute terrorists (shoe bomber & others) in our civilian courts, but she will not extend the same to President Obama.

    Double standard and reprehensible politics.

    January 30, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. Mitch

    I guess A...she wasn't at the meeting with Obama to play nice and B...she has completely forgotten everything that's happened since 9/11 and before.

    Maybe she can explain how so soon after 9/11 when the GOP made America fear for their lives at every turn, a guy almost blew up a plane with his shoe and Bush didn't seem to care for almost a week????

    Shouldn't the nation's intelligence have been on higher alert so soon after and in a period where Bush made Americans afraid???

    I get it...it doesn't count since she doesn't remember it being a GOP administration's problem. Just like the report Bush ignored about Obama looking to attack America in a neat little report on his desk.

    January 30, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. Linda Iowa

    I too would like to know where the integrity of the MSM is. The lies that are told and gotten away with. Media knows ahead of time what questions they are going to ask and can have the proof of the truth at their fingertips if a lie is told. That would be the true holding professional liars feet to the fire. They would think twice before getting on the air and lying to the American people.

    January 30, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Dianne

    The person to be afraid of is the one that seems friendly. The enemy cannot decide how this person will be have or is capable of behind closed doors. The person that says everything that they believe, constantly beating their chest has given away the plan. You know fron whence he come. The quiet is far more dangerous.

    January 30, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. lester

    Lost in all of this is the disrespect for our Constitution. Republicans have shown a tendency to look the other way as Bush ignored the document. American safety is paramount, but we will never be safe if we ignore our own laws.

    January 30, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Mlhall

    Why do Republicans hate President Obama.

    January 30, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Albert K. L.A., CA

    AbdulMutallab, was given a Miranda warning and a lawyer pursuant to tose pesky constitutional reguirements that George Bush and Dick Cheney never understood either.The idea of being a nation of law and not men being the best way to protect human rights is an old from the birth of the nation. Republicans just do not get it because last week the Republcans on the Supreme Court held that corporations have rights of free speech but some how went further to make that mean they can aid foreign entities to influence our lawmaking and elections with unlimited cash bribes as being a mere opinion of a corporation who cannot express themselves any other way, yet Susan Collins, Cheney and Bush do not think that same constitution is for humans. Republican think we are a nation of corporations and not men.
    ,

    January 30, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Charlie in Maine

    I would not have felt any safer if they had tortured him. He gave thgem actionable intelligegence. I don't trust many Republicans any more and she was one of the few left that I did trust

    January 30, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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