Possibly worried that getting us all blown up by July won't poll well, and clearly stung by criticism of their decision to Mirandize the Underpants Bomber and let him lawyer up, the Administration trotted out some senior official to give the press a backgrounder assuring us that all is well:
WASHINGTON — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit on Dec. 25, started talking to investigators after two of his family members arrived in the United States and helped earn his cooperation, a senior administration official said Tuesday evening.
Mr. Abdulmutallab, 23, began speaking to F.B.I. agents last week in Detroit and has not stopped, two government officials said. The officials declined to disclose what information was obtained from him, but said it was aiding in the investigation of the attempted terrorist attack.
“With the family, the F.B.I. approached the suspect,” the senior administration official said, speaking to reporters at the White House on the condition of anonymity because of the pending legal case. “He has been cooperating for days.”
The cooperation was first disclosed during a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, as the suspect’s interrogation became the subject of an intense political debate over whether he initially stopped providing information after he was read his Miranda rights and received a lawyer. The administration was seeking to refute the notion that he was treated differently from any other terrorism suspects since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The White House hastily called a briefing on Tuesday evening to discuss the new details of the case. The senior administration official provided this account:
Well, that is a change we may or may not believe in - Byron York recycles previous assurances from Gibbs and Aelrod that we had already gotten all we could from the alleged miscreant.
And Matt Yglesias ought to get some sort of a prize for Most Complete Suspension of Critical Thinking. Here he is, in support (Surprise!) of the civil, civilian approach adopted by Team Obama:
Something I should have said yesterday is that not only has the US Department of Justice normally handled terrorism prosecutions, one important advantage they have over a military detention system or the CIA is that the FBI actually conducts investigations on a regular basis. The FBI breaks the back of organized crime outfits, exposes political corruption, etc. The international dimension of al-Qaeda and the possibility of al-Qaeda being sheltered by foreign governments or militias requires participation of the military and the Intelligence Community but fundamentally neither of these organizations is set up to actually investigate dangerous conspiracies. That’s what the FBI does, by contrast.
Seriously? Just to tear a page from ancient history, was it the FBI that tracked down Saddam Hussein in Iraq?
Or, as if torn from today's headlines does Matt really think it is the FBI that develops the intelligence behind our drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Wow.
It’s true that as an investigative technique “convince the guy’s family to convince him to cooperate” isn’t quite as bad-ass as “use Khmer Rouge torture tactics against him.” On the other hand, the non-torture way actually produces reliable information.
And Matt knows the intel is reliable because...? People can't lie when their sainted mum or beloved aunt is in the next room? I don't know how the reality-based community gleaned this particular fragment of reality.
Next Matt segues to basic psychology:
A family that has confidence in the basic fairness of the US criminal justice system is prepared to help the FBI secure cooperation from their son. A family that believes the US government holds suspects in “black sites” where they’re tortured and/or tries them in kangaroo courts is much less likely to cooperate.
I am strangely certain that I have read of families and emissaries pleading with despotic regimes to free their loved ones. Oh, here we go:
Mothers of detained hikers seek visas to Iran to plead their case
OAKLAND — At this point, Nora Shourd's daughter has been in a prison halfway across the world for a half-year, and the distraught mother feels out of options. All that's left, it seems, is to actually go to Iran to plead her case.
Maybe that is just a strong statement of her confidence in the fundamental fairness of the Iranian justice system and its ability to treat spawn of the Great Satan Americans with justice.
Well. Is it better to be loved or feared? I would think that either approach could work.
Matt's Big Finish:
If we’d handled this in the blood-soaked manner preferred by the right, who knows what kind of nonsense information people would be sorting through right now.
That includes the article of faith on the left that under "torture" people will say anything except the truth. Of course, what the right was calling for was the use of the military tribunals approved by Obama (including for KSM) and the interrogation techniques limited to the Army Field Manual, also as approved by Obama. "Blood soaked manner"? That is just Matt versus the strawmen again.