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. Russell for common sense Americans

    This exactly what we the people are talking about . Is this slamming of the administration getting the people's business and concerns taken care of in Washington , this is nothing more than obstructionism , how about Susan Collins come up with solutions and respectably bring them too the table , bickering and blaming has to stop . It is in no way solving our problems of getting our economy moving again !

    January 30, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    The rethugs are starting to sound like Nazis. Those pesky murderers who wanted to rewrite history.
    Let's see . . . . 9/11, the shoe bomber for starters. Does anyone remember these happened under bush's watch?
    Oh yes, let's not forget bin laden . . . . dead or alive!
    I rather have a president (Obama) who thinks before he shoots than one who shoots off his half brain (bush) and brings us more misery and hatred.

    January 30, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Grundoon

    What? Should they have water boarded him?

    I thought the GOP was going to do their part to change the political climate but this one can't help herself.

    January 30, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. not alone

    Looks like the attack dogs are back(well they never did leave did they?) so much for both parties trying to get some of the peoples work done. this really saddens me, would have at least like to see both sides try to get along even for a lil bit.

    January 30, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Obama/Biden

    the republicans need to help with rebuilding the economy instead of criticize Obama on every he does. Americans need jobs and health care, terorism cannot be front issue for Obama when so many people do no have jobs. The republicans need to get it.

    January 30, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Adelita

    I really don't understand Al-Qaeda's rush to take credit for an inept would-be bomber who only managed to set his crotch on fire! Wouldn't you think they'd be embarrassed to claim him?

    January 30, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Liz

    Be afraid, be very afraid-isn't that the Republican creed? "Fear everyone, fear religions, fear, fear, fear..."

    As Roosevelt stated so well, "We have nothing to fear except FEAR itself."

    January 30, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    The Constitution just keeps getting in the way of how the GOP wants to run things

    January 30, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. meeee

    She's absolutely right. Obama is being careless with his foreign policy – not reading reports, not torturing to get false information.. Remember, it was under Obama that a bunch of them came over here and blew up two of our buildings... uh.. wait, ... I'm confused now.

    January 30, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Allison29

    We Americans are easily fooled. Republicans make us believe anything......

    January 30, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. jay in denver

    We need to let the military handle it! You know, the military, a giant wasteful government bureaucracy paid for by all our taxes.

    Oh wait, that's Socialism! Never mind!

    January 30, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. Rick

    George Bush + Republican Party= the reason why the terrorists hate us.

    January 30, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Chris

    Another day, another attack by the GOP on the President. And, once again, they attack him for something that, when the exact same thing occured under the Bush Adminisitration they were perfectly fine with it, but when it happens during the Obama administration the Right is all outraged and up in arms about it. If you look up "double standard" in the dictionary, it says "See – Republicans."

    January 30, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Rick

    The Republicans sure kept us safe on Sept. 11, 2001 not.

    January 30, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. sharon

    Just shows that she is also scared of the right wing of her party and scared of a primary challenge. Considering that she represents Maine, she may need to worry about a Democrat challenge.

    The Obama administration is tougher on terrorism that Bush ever was; however, the Republicans have to try something considering that they have no agenda, ideas or solutions.

    January 30, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. tmart

    What IS the law regarding this? Obama is not supposed to just make it up!!!

    January 30, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Tony in Maine

    If one only reads the opinion page of the major dailies in Maine, one would assume that the state is mired in the politics of the late 19th century. Collins represents the publisher of those papers and people who write many of the letters to the editor that appear in them.

    Like Olympia Snowe, her reputation as a moderate is inaccurate. While not conservative libertarians, both are far to the right of center and seem oblivious welfare of the people of Maine.

    I have no idea why so many of my fellow Mainers are takenin by the "independent" label they wear.

    January 30, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. juliet hartford ct

    i thought repub and dems were going to sit down and work together how long did that last oh about 2 secs...because the pres clean their clock at the retreat on 01-29-2010....Let the partisan begin again ....

    January 30, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. Paul Illinois

    Collins, McCain, Sessions they were all there when their boy George W ignored reports of potential 9/11 and then fumbled when he had a chance to capture OBL at Tora Bora. The majority of reports so far do state that the Christmas bomber spilled his guts before and after any rights being read to him, too bad for Collins, she'll have to wait to tune up her water boarding techniques.

    January 30, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Brian

    "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

    ~Abe Lincoln, who had to deal with the very people in our country's history which have come closest to ripping it apart.

    January 30, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. gary davis harbor oregon

    hey Collins ,untill you get all the facts and I don't think you qualify to be privey to all the facts , why not support try and support the president . you are just the same as the rest of the purists that want to go after everything the president says or does .yet all you people can do is be critical , of the great job the president is trying to do . didn't you learn anything from the question and aswer session that the president had with the republicans? so from me to you ( shut up ) until you can be positive in your statements to the media . you people have made most of americans sick of your negative lip service . put up or shut up !
    plus the amount of negative crap the republicans are spouting is just that crap .

    January 30, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Denna

    "Republicans Slam Obama on terrorism". Sigh, if it wasn't that it would be something else. What is with you people. Didn't the people who hired you, i.e. the voters, hire you to help this country, or has the Republican party become the party of people who are mentally unwell?

    To Dan Smith: President Obama isn't childlike. What is wrong with trying to get along with the people who share this earth with us. I think he is working hard to both protect America and retool our image so that we are not thought of as "the great satan" in other countries. Dan, what have you done lately to help America????

    January 30, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. Rich Rollin

    It is important for americans not to listen to such hatefull senators, Treating this criminals different or special gives them the motivation to commite more crimes. Treating them special enhances there martyr beliefs, they want to feel different, they want to create the woa hah!. I believe they should be treated like any common criminal, like any criminal. This will ultimately remove the prestige they imagine the world owes them. America should let there values rule other than there fears. Threason we admire america is there values. Treating this people special is getting caught in the trapp the terrorist want so they can use it for propagada and recruit more terrorist. Remember to resist the devil and he will flee!!!

    January 30, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. charlie z

    i think mrs. collins would have preferred that we throw the guy into gitmo, detain him for an undetermined time without pressing any charges, and then torture the hell out of him. that's the american way!

    January 30, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. jimmm

    Lets see, did she complain about the show bomber? Mossaoui, the 1993 WTC bombers? They were all tried in Civilian court.

    Well, all you Obama haters? Or was it ok, as long as a GOP President did it?

    January 30, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7