By Mike Gonzalez
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today swung hard against a public-relations campaign by the Obama Administration to clean up its tattered image over its handling of the war on terrorists, and especially Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
In a major address at The Heritage Foundation, McConnell gave a point-by-point refutation of all of the administration’s failures in this area, from the decision to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay to the botched attempt to try some terrorists in New York. But McConnell took special aim at the administration decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a common criminal after the al Qaeda terrorist tried to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.
It was the first significant Republican response to a concerted effort by the White House to catch up to yet another looming PR disaster. The White House mop-up effort came after intensified criticism, even from Democrats in Congress, of the administration’s decision to read Abdulmutallab Miranda rights 50 minutes into his interrogation on Christmas Day.
McConnell’s address followed 24 hours in which administration sources selectively leaked to the media that Abdulmutallab has been cooperating with authorities for weeks. Many in the media have, of course, bought the White House line that confessions can be obtained even while trying terrorists like common criminals and without enhanced interrogation techniques.
But McConnell said intelligence is “perishable” and that the country’s safety cannot depend on a terrorist having family members cajoling him to talk—a response to the administration sources’ claim that they have flown Abdulmutallab’s family from Nigeria to convince him to cooperate.
“All the intelligence he possessed concerning locations, training techniques and communications methods of al Qaeda in Yemen is perishable,” said McConnell. “Yemeni forces needed the information on Dec. 25, not six weeks later. Meanwhile the American people are left to wonder whether, in place of interrogation, their safety depends on terrotists having families who can persuade them to talk.”
And while the Obama Administration’s handling of the Christmas Day bomber was the “most egregious” example of its “blind spot” when it comes to fighting the war on terror, “it was not an isolated case,” said McConnell. He also lambasted Attorney General Eric Holder’s actions on terrorism and questioned the administration’s wisdom for putting its trust on him when it comes to our national defense. “This is wrong. The attorney general should not be running the war on terror.”
The overall thrust of the Obama Administration’s war on terror has not been to pursue what works but to “conspicuously distance itself from the policies of the past, even the ones that worked.”
On closing the facility at Guantanamo Bay where the terrorists are held, McConnell asked, “Why are they closing it? Because the Europeans don’t like it?”
And McConnell made a pledge on the Manhattan trials. If despite all the bad publicity it is getting, the Obama Administration stubbornly attempts to try terrorists there, “we will do everything we can to deny them the funds.”
You can read McConnell’s speech here.