January 27th, 2010
11:10 PM ET
13 years ago

CNN Fact Check: The 'Undiebomber' has spoken

(CNN) - Did the man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day clam up when read his rights?

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who delivered the Republican response to Obama's State of the Union address, included that assertion when he said the GOP had "serious concerns" over how the Obama administration treats suspected terrorists.

"Americans were shocked on Christmas Day to learn of the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit," McDonnell said. "This foreign terror suspect was given the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen, and immediately stopped providing critical intelligence."

McDonnell's assertion is narrowly true - the suspect, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, did stop talking to FBI agents after being read his rights. But he was questioned twice before then, quickly spilling that he was trained in Yemen by al Qaeda operatives and giving up information that "has already proved useful in the fight against al Qaeda," a Justice Department spokesman told CNN last week.

Numerous Republicans have argued that AbdulMutallab should have been placed in military custody and subjected to more extensive interrogation. They have been joined by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. But the Obama administration has argued that civilian courts are the proper place for cases like AbdulMutallab's.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama • SOTU fact check
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Mike

    I agree with Lieberman to a certain degree however I don't agree with the Republican assessment of the situation. We saw what happened under the Bush/Cheney Administration those they deemed not a threat were released and guess where they ended up? At the same time I disagree with the Obama Administration concerning civilian courts. We need to create a terrorist task force made up of CIA, FBI, Military, and other agencies to deal exclusively with interrogation, and disposition of these terrorist. It should have the power to make recommendations concerning terrorist who have been apprehended. Yes I know we have the HOME LAND SECURITY AGENCY however, the agency is so large and cumbersome that it can barely react to a natural disaster let alone expidite terrorist cases. Whether you agree with me or not the death penalty should be the only penalty for terrorist. I do not like to see our American tax dollars caring for these individuals who threaten the life and liberties. What do you think?

    January 28, 2010 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  2. Conley

    He will get a fair trial in a US Court, then a not so fair trial in the pen. Where can you put a guy like this? Why not see if he can swim to Gitmo

    January 28, 2010 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  3. Average Joe in America

    Same old politics former president Bush did his terrorist suspect same way and he was praised by all the hot air opposition that we are seeing today opposing everything Pres Obama is doing sad to see these kind of politics.

    January 28, 2010 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  4. Preston kk

    Pkm the gop would let the crap man stay in jail with no charge

    January 28, 2010 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  5. patriot

    NARROWLY CORRECT, interrogate, interrogate, interrogate, we need all the info we can get. I guess that would be a violation of his rights as written in the constition. Now lets but him in the wittness protection program. Never surprized by this admin.

    January 28, 2010 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  6. 911willie

    Not being a US citizen, the Undie Bomber does not have to be given "Miranda" rights, (right against self incrimination, right to attorney, etc.). At MOST he is an enemy combatant and his rights would be covered by the Geneva Convention which provides for no such warnings.

    This case brings up the bigger question regarding all of these terrorists or wannabe's. They are not Civilian Criminals. Ask them and they will tell you that they are "at war" with the US. If this is the case, he and all the rest, especially the gang at Guantanamo have no right to an American Criminal Trial.

    January 28, 2010 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  7. Mad Jayhawk

    If the suspect quit talking after he was read his rights, how is it that the Governor's statement is 'narrowly true'? If the suspect kept talking, the governor's statement would be false. The governor's statement is either True or False, just the way a statement on a T-F Test in high school was. The fact that the suspect said some things before he was read his rights is immaterial. The governor's point was, if you didn't catch it, that if you do not read terrorists their rights there is a good chance that they might talk or keep on talking. Duh. If you do not want terrorists to talk, read them their rights, and give them a taxpayer-paid-for lawyer. In addition everything this suspect said, because he is being treated like a criminal, prior to get his rights read, is useless in his prosecution.

    January 28, 2010 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  8. BILL, WI

    Did the Justice Dept. say that he was questioned twice by the FBI BEFORE they read him his rights?

    January 28, 2010 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  9. I am...

    US citizen or not... the terrorist should be treated like any other criminal of the law. The same treatment that a kid or military officer gets for shooting random individuals is the same that this international terrorist should get...the crime of "terror" in both instances are the same in their own right. It really doesn't matter where you from, if you are threatening the lives of Americans...you should be brought to swift justice and effective investigation, no matter your nationality

    January 28, 2010 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  10. cartman

    CNN once again shows its bias for this administration...

    How is Mr. Smith sooo sure that all available intel was obtained from this terrorist? Was he there? Did he "fact check" the statements?

    Did KSM confide all in 50 minutes? Was there additional info which could have been extracted from this bozo? We'll never know b/c of this naive administration and its moronic Justice Department.

    Given the statement, "But the Obama administration has argued that civilian courts are the proper place for cases like AbdulMutallab's" – we are supposed to believe that:

    – a terrorist with a bomb that fails to detonate and not kill anyone, nor destroy a jetliner deserved a day in civilian court?
    – a terrorist, such as the Fort Hood bastard, if he kills multiple people, and is not killed himself, also gets his day in civilian court?
    – a terrorist who does successfully detonate a bomb is dead – so the issue is moot.

    If this administration continues to think that we can approach these people with kid gloves, then its only a matter of time when blood is spilled again in this country.

    "Let me be clear":

    1. citizens cannot rely on this administration to protect them from enemies abroad – it has become time to protect ourselves – just like the passengers on that flight on Christmas Day
    2. Napolitano isn't the only idiot in this administration – include Holder and our dear leader as well.

    January 28, 2010 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  11. Beefbone

    This is the typical pap of Obama apologists.

    Obviously, if the guy stopped talking after read his Miranda "rights," there was more that he had to say. Speculating that anything yet unsaid wasn't important is just wishful thinking. Holder's letting this guy off the hook borders on treason, but it's probably just attributable to softheadedness.

    January 28, 2010 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  12. Romy Monteyro

    This is political correctness at its best. Something we Americans have no use for. Obama wants to please the world, but not his countrymen.
    Is he even an American citizen? If he is, he is not behaving like one.

    The terrorist Mutallab and the Ft. Hood murder are one and the same.
    They are Muslim extremist whose aim in life is to kill Americans.

    Stop being an America hater Mr. Obama and start acting like a real
    American president--one who would put America first at all costs!

    January 28, 2010 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  13. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    What the GOP fail to tell people is that the undiebomber talked for
    30 hrs.to investigators.

    January 28, 2010 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  14. Keith in Austin

    A total sham by the Bozo Adm. for Political Brownie Points overseas at the expense of the National Security of America! Dispicable!

    January 28, 2010 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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