National Security

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Jan. 21, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, yesterday, several members of the administration's national security team testified before the Senate concerning the attempted Christmas Day attack by the Nigerian terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. This testimony was troubling indeed and left some wondering why the administration is subjecting this terrorist to criminal prosecution instead of gaining the valuable intelligence that is needed in our war on al-Qaida.

Admiral Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, stated quite frankly that the Christmas Day bomber should have been questioned by the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group. Blair went on to say that neither he nor other important intelligence officials were even consulted on the matter. This raises several troubling questions: First, why were Miranda rights given to the obvious terrorist after only a brief session of questioning, which predictably ended his cooperation?

Second, at what level of authority was this decision taken to treat him as a criminal defendant instead of an unlawful enemy combatant? Who made that decision?

I asked this question last night of John Brennan, the President's senior counterterrorism adviser, three times, and he refused to answer. I think the Senate is entitled to know precisely who authorized this.

A year ago, the President decided to revise the Nation's interrogation policies and to restrict the CIA's ability to question terrorists. The administration created a High Value Detainee Interrogation Group precisely for the purpose of questioning terrorists. Why wasn't this group brought in once this terrorist was taken into custody?

Americans are going to need to know the answers to those questions.

I yield the floor.