Monday, January 11, 2010

Abdulmutallab, American Values, And The Problem Of Treating War As A Law Enforcement Excercise

The blogprof reports that Detroit bomber 'singing like a canary' before arrest until he was treated as an ordinary criminal and advised of his right to silence. You'll note he had to get this from The Telegraph, a United Kingdom newspaper as no word of such has been reported in the local news.

Indeed, the provision of full American criminal law protections, including such lawyering-up is being praised by some former Michigan US Attorneys as a wonderful triumph of law: American values v. Abdulmutallab
As former U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, we are confident in the ability of the federal justice system to handle the trial of Abdulmutallab and any other terrorism suspect. During our time at the U.S. Department of Justice, we never felt the need to stray from our traditional justice system to prosecute those responsible for heinous crimes. There is no need to start now.

And therein lies the rub. The honorable former US District Attorneys, and President Obama for that matter, are mistakenly treating this as a criminal matter, note their emphasis when they say "prosecute those responsible for heinous crimes". After all they're very good at law enforcement and that's the mode in which they function so they slot Abdulmutallab into the criminal defendant slot and proceed from there.

Now, lawyering-up is a time-honored American Tradition, certainly valid for American citizens and others who reside or visit the US. But whether we should extend it to a terrorist with whom, as has been stated even by President Obama that, "we are at war", a terrorist who would not have even touched American soil had his plan been successful is ridiculous.

Indeed, such action is dangerous, as noted by the blogprof, valuable and time-sensitive intelligence has been lost due to the underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being allowed to invoke the Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, rights for which he is not entitled. He is not a criminal but instead a terrorist or saboteur and a thorough interrogation, followed by execution is all he is entitled to under the laws of war.

1 comment:

John Byrnes said...

We don’t need profiling to identify Individuals like the Christmas-Day Bomber!

Virtually all media outlets are discussing whether we should be profiling all Arab Muslims; I will in the one-page explain why we don’t need profiling. Over 15 years ago, we at the Center for Aggression Management developed an easily-applied, measurable and culturally-neutral body language and behavior indicators exhibited by people who intend to perpetrate a terrorist act. This unique methodology utilizes proven research from the fields of psychology, medicine and law enforcement which, when joined together, identify clear, easily-used physiologically-based characteristics of individuals who are about to engage in terrorist activities in time to prevent their Moment of Commitment.

The Problem
Since the foiled terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, the President has repeatedly stated that there has been a systemic failure as he reiterates his commitment to fill this gap in our security. This incident, like the Fort Hood shooting, exemplifies why our government must apply every valid preventative approach to identify a potential terrorist.

The myriad methods to identify a terrorist, whether “no-fly list,” “explosive and weapons detection,” mental illness based approaches, “profiling” or “deception detection” - all continue to fail us. Furthermore, the development of deception detection training at Boston Logan Airport demonstrated that the Israeli methods of interrogation will not work in the United States.

All media outlets are discussing the need for profiling of Muslim Arabs, but profiling does not work for the following three reasons:

1. In practice, ethnic profiling tells us that within a certain group of people there is a higher probability for a terrorist; it does not tell us who the next terrorist is!

2. Ethnic profiling is contrary to the value our society places on diversity and freedom from discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, age and/or gender based criteria. If we use profiling it will diminish our position among the majority of affected citizens who support us as a beacon of freedom and liberty.

3. By narrowing our field of vision, profiling can lead to the consequence of letting terrorists go undetected, because the terrorist may not be part of any known “profile worthy” group – e.g., the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh

The Solution
Our unique methodology for screening passengers can easily discern (independently of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, and gender) the defining characteristics of human beings who are about to engage in terrorist acts.

The question is when will our government use true “hostile intent” through the “continuum of aggressive behavior” to identify potential terrorists? Only when observers focus specifically on “aggressive behavior” do the objective and culturally neutral signs of “aggression” clearly stand out, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters. This method will not only make all citizens safer, but will also pass the inevitable test of legal defensibility given probable action by the ACLU.

As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab’s entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong. Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?

Visit our blog at where we discuss the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist act on Flight 253.