Former federal terror prosecutor rips Obama terror prosecution strategy 

Former prosecutor Andy McCarthy's latest piece on how the Obama administration is botching the prosecution of terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is so full of damning information it's hard to know where to begin discussing it.

Let's start with the missed intelligence opportunities:

We have now had confirmed — by President Obama himself, along with top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan — that, while Janet Napolitano’s system was working so well, Abdulmutallab was an untapped well of operational intelligence.

He’d been training with al-Qaeda for weeks in Yemen, now one of the hottest hubs of terror plotting. He was undoubtedly in a position to identify who had recruited him, who had dispatched him on his mission, and who had trained him in fashioning and detonating chemical explosives. He was in a position to tell us what al-Qaeda knows, that Janet Napolitano apparently doesn’t, about our porous airline-security system. He was, moreover, almost certainly in a position to pinpoint paramilitary training facilities, to tell us about other al-Qaeda trainees being taught to do what he was trying to do, and to fill many gaps in our knowledge of the terror network’s hierarchy, routines, and governmental connections in Yemen.

That was not to be. The Obama administration decided that forging ahead pell-mell with a criminal prosecution was more important than acquiring every morsel of useful information Abdulmutallab has to give. That meant telling him, immediately upon arrest, that he didn’t need to speak to the government at all if he didn’t want to. It meant promising to get him a lawyer. It meant he could only be questioned for a few hours — by agents who happened to be on the scene but probably didn’t know much about al-Qaeda’s Yemeni operation. It meant the assignment of a defense lawyer and required court appearances that instantly shut down all questioning.

And McCarthy provides a great example of how civilian courts are inadequate for terror trials:

And yesterday, it meant the Justice Department had to file a “stop the clock” indictment. Under the Speedy Trial Act, when an arrested person is denied bail, the government has only ten business days to file formal charges. So the government hastily slaps together a very lean indictment. Prosecutors never want to allege anything they’re not positive they can prove. Blunders in an indictment signal that someone may have given false testimony in the grand jury or that the Justice Department’s theory of the case is flawed. Such errors are exploited to great effect by defense counsel at trial.

So, at this premature investigative stage, the government alleges only what it knows for sure. Indications are that it doesn’t know much. There are only six counts. They all charge Abdulmutallab alone, as if he were the only relevant actor in this conspiracy. Indeed, by the Justice Department’s lights, you can’t even call the case a “conspiracy.” DOJ hasn’t charged one — not with al-Qaeda, not with anyone.

Read the whole thing.

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Mark Hemingway

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