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. Raymond H. Burgoon-Clark

    The Underpants Bomber was caught with his pants down (literally) ... it was pretty much an open-and-shut case.

    January 30, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    As many people are reminding Senator Collins, the "Underwear Bomber" is being treated in exactly the same way that GW Bush treated the "Shoe Bomber'.

    She yet again proves that the GOP has one goal: To make our president and our country fail, in their efforts to regain power.

    GOP = Party Before Country

    January 30, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. nadine

    Will someone please answer that question, "Why do Republicans and x-treme far right hate America? What's wrong with these people!

    January 30, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Someone needs to remind Collins and all the other Republicans that they LOST the White House, Congress and the Senate in 2008.

    The Democrats are still in very firm control of those institutions, and will be for a long time to come.

    The Republicans need to grow up and accept that they LOST – and also accept that they had 30 years to try out their economic, military and foreign policies – and those policies FAILED!

    January 30, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. sue

    Shame on you – when the Republican administration has had numerous terrorist trials in the civilian court and that was okay. It's like the facts don't speak for themselves.
    And the Repubs wonder why they are considered the Party of NO!

    January 30, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Sue

    Obama, Holder, Napolitano and the rest of the liberal Democrats--are more worried about protecting the rights of terrorists---than they are about protecting the rights of US citizens to be safe/secure.

    The underwear bomber was only questioned/interrogated for 50 minutes--–before he was read his miranda rights and lawyered up.

    Now, we have no idea what future attacks/plans that Al Qaida may have planned for our country---as well as our allies.

    Obama and his administration are a disgrace in regard to national security/defense issues (as well as other issues, but we are talking about defense here).

    Let us just pray-–that we are not attacked again before the 2010 elections. After the 2010 elections---and the clobbering that the Democrats are going to get---there will be enough Republicans in the House and Senate to stop this Obama lunacy.

    January 30, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. John in WV

    I would be more interested in knowing what this senator would want her party to do as opposed to what she thinks the president should not have done. She chose to criticize other than offer solution. Any wonder her party has become the party of "NO".

    January 30, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Radar54

    Interesting , when it was a Republican administration there were no

    No health care reform for the middle class. However now they have a great plan, without raising taxes, were was this plan seven years ago?

    Not one little Tea Bagger.

    Two wars , Not one Republican complained! None of their high and mighty kids had to suffer.

    Not one little Tea Bagger rally against this either.

    Where o where was this lady when they had the shoe bomber on trial?

    January 30, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. John Connors

    The Republicans are totally hypocritical again. The Bush administration did exactly the same thing with the Shoe Bomber. Further, what would they suggest we do differently here? Torture the man rather than interrogate him? The reputation of the United States is already down the toilet in the eyes of the world with "extradition" to overseas secret prisons, and now they would have the US do this in full view of the world? We look more and more like Russian Gulags. No wonder there is an endless supply of people willing to be suicide bombers against the USA.

    January 30, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Minnesota gal

    No wonder the republicans claim they are better at terrorism than the Obama administration.

    Have you ever in your life seen a more grumpy, hate spitting, inciting to violence and childish actions than the bunch of republicans we have now. All they think about is how to spread terror to the American people and especially the democrats. It is a 24/7 action with them.

    January 30, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. What goes around

    Is her Senate seat in danger? If not, I can't explain this cliche, talking points-ridden rant. Unless it's just a bit of day-after (the GOP spanking) desperation to re-claim the rhetorical upperhand.

    January 30, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. Dick_NH

    Ms. Collins,
    As a New Englander, I am amazed at your partisan attack against President Obama....your constituents should be ashamed of your blatant lack of decency and good sense. I don't think I heard you so vigorously attack George W. Bush after the "Shoe Bomber" incident.... have you conveniently forgotten that incident ? It was handled exactly the same way as the Christmas Day "attempt".

    Let me ask you : How many of these terrorists have been convicted in Military Tribunals ??? And how many have been convicted in Federal Court ??? Cat got your tongue, Senator Collins?????????

    January 30, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Radar54

    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

    Um Dan,

    You should not call the Republican extremists? Not nice.

    January 30, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    I thought criticizing the President during the war on terror was aiding and abetting the terrorists. At least that's what I heard from the Republicans from 9/11/01 until 1/20/09. Glenn Koons, please ask the nice nurse to adjust your meds.

    January 30, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Bush's Favorite Things: Blanky, Bikey & Nappy

    Susan Collins should be waterboarded and tried in a military tribunal.
    She's a blithering, idiotic parrot trying to put a "moderate" face on the G.O.P. She'll be teabagged in November anyway, so we won't have to listen to her wishy-washy dialogue for long. Thanks for playing historical revisionism along with your (right-wing) nutjob collegues, Susan.

    January 30, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  16. Dianne

    The congressman from Utah, was not as innocent as he porttrayed during the GOP talk with the President. He, Micelle Bachman, and Joe Wilson are responsible for pushing forward to stop full body scans at airports last year. So if these people are so concerned about terroism, why did they line up so many to vote down this protection for the American public and for the cres on theses flights which nobody seems topay much attention for their safety at work.

    January 30, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Will Work for Health Care

    Probably got her facts from Palin. That's why it took so long to respond.
    These Repubs are behaving like kindergärtners.

    January 30, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Tristan

    Republicans need to get control of their fear. Bush isn't going to be yelling 'orange alert' anymore, so you can stop soiling your pants for no reason. Obama has kept America safer, longer than Bush did, get over it.

    January 30, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Jacob

    and the Republicans are salivating over the idea of another terrorist attack!

    they DO NOT care about Americans

    January 30, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Stu

    Why don't they so far as to suggest suspending the Constitution for all crimes we find abhorrent? I can hear the argument: The Obama Justice Department is coddling child molestors by offering due process!! Why'd they let that cop killer have a lawyer? He could have provided a lot of good intelligence with a nice robust interrogation!!!

    Who decides which suspects enjoy the protection of the Constitution and which do not? Susan Collins? Dick Cheney?

    January 30, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Bret

    May God have mercy on each one of us !

    January 30, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Emma

    Whomever sees the President as weak and chid-like is clearly distorting
    in his thinking which shows in your misrepresentation of his stance on terrorism. You seem to have not done your homework.

    January 30, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Nevada dude

    Sen Collins is now harping the standard GOP talking points. seems like the republican Bosses have finally gotten to even this moderate Repub.

    January 30, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. Linda L

    Not only is she conveniently forgetting the Shoe Bomber but also the fact that Representative Jason Chaffetz,UT, in a bill co-sponsored by 21 other Republicans in May 2009, HR 2027 amends title 49, US Code to establish limitations on the use of whole-body imaging technology at airports. Then they added an amendment to stop this technology altogether. This technology would have stopped a would-be Christmas bomber. I am so tired of the memory loss finger-pointing. Our two party system is beginning to bring us down as our politicians are so busy campaigning 24/7 that they forget to address problems that all Americans are facing. We've got to get past our allegience to party and start thinking solutions.

    January 30, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. Bill

    Ms. Collins, the sooner you and others learn that these people are not terrorists to obama, they are family. And he and Eric Holder have every intention of giving them as much support as in needed to protect them from us American heathens.

    January 30, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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