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FBI Gets Further Information Out of Mirandized Xmas Bomber

It was the one thing I wanted to tell these people who were insisting that we would never get anything more out of the Hot Pants Bomber because he had been informed of his right to remain silent: just because a suspect shuts up at first, doesn’t mean his lips are sealed for good.

How did they do it? They appealed to his family. And guess what? The fact we didn’t beat the crap out of him to get more answers helped us there.

“One of the principal reasons why his family came back is because they had complete trust in the US system of justice and believed that Umar Farouq would be treated fairly and appropriately," the senior official said. "And that they would be as well.”

The FBI and Abdulmuttalab's family approached the subject and “gained his cooperation. He has been cooperating for days," the official said.

Despite the conclusions that some on the Right jumped to, we did not lose future intelligence by failing to resort to more brutal methods, or by failing to put him in front of more intimidating military interrogators, without Miranda Rights to protect him.

The Republicans nowadays assume that only through authoritarian means can we extract every last bit of information. They are wrong. In fact, the best subject to ask questions of is one who is clear and lucid, and not antagonistic to the interviewer. As it turns out, relying on civilian interrogators was not a bad idea:

Those who had access to Abdulmuttalab concluded that "putting him in front of somebody with a military uniform would have made him even more opposed to any type of cooperation," the official said. "The way to get to him is to use family members who are going to be supportive of what we’re trying to do”

They were right, obviously.

We have a tendency to dehumanize our enemy here, but the truth of the matter is, however hostile these people are, they are still very much like us in the ways that count for building rapport. They have families, families that many members love and trust. They have human flaws and human feelings, and those can be drawn on to influence them in an interrogation. Few subjects behave like the superhuman movie bad guys that the Right treats these people like

This was something even members of the Bush Adminstration realized.

The Bush administration used the criminal justice system to convict more than 300 terrorists, the official noted, adding that accused shoe-bomber Richard Reid was Mirandized within 5 minutes.

“When Flight 2523 landed in Detroit the men and women in the FBI, the Department of Justice, did precisely what they were trained to do, what their policies require then to do and what the nation expects them to do," the official said. “The FBI’s current Miranda policy – adopted by the prior administration — provided explicitly that within the United States Miranda warnings are required to be given prior to interviews. The initial questioning of Abdulmuttalab conducted without Miranda warnings under a public safety exception that has been recognized by the courts.”

What Republicans fail to understand is that people can clam up in the face of hostility. They can raise their defenses, especially when they're expecting to be harmed by their captors. But when their captors treat them humanely, that is often quite enough to throw them off their training, their plans for remaining silent.

The Republicans seem to have a generalized problem with believing that cooperation gained by consent will work towards the ends they see as important. More and more in different sides of their politics, we see this tendency to demand and force concessions out of others, rather than ask for compromises, or reach out to those they have power over. What they need to learn is that power doesn't always come at somebody else's expense. Not all games are zero sum, and that includes interrogation. We don't have to take people's rights, take people's dignity, take people's choices away from them to get something of what we want from them.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at February 3, 2010 11:11 AM
Comment #295064

So Stephen what your saying is that our interrogation methods should rely on family influence of suspected terrorist. This was a one in a million shot. It WILL NOT WORK IN MOST CASES. The best thing to do is let the EXPERTS handle interrogation of war criminals.

Posted by: KAP at February 3, 2010 2:51 PM
Comment #295065


We have a tendency to dehumanize our enemy here, but the truth of the matter is, however hostile these people are, they are still very much like us in the ways that count for building rapport. They have families, families that many members love and trust. They have human flaws and human feelings, and those can be drawn on to influence them in an interrogation. Few subjects behave like the superhuman movie bad guys that the Right treats these people like.

Which is to say that there are all kinds of different approaches interrogators can use, of which this is one. To paraphrase what that antagonist from Mission: Impossible said, everybody has pressure points. You find what it is that will get people to talk, and you squeeze.

Maybe it’s a rivalry. Maybe it’s a doctrinal difference. Maybe it’s the fact that the other guy got promoted ahead of you. Maybe they aren’t remorseless, and their conscience pains them. Whatever. You find the crack and you exploit it.

What this breakthrough shows, though, is that Republican pessimism about getting intelligence from this guy was highly unfounded. The Republicans jumped to a conclusion based on one report, and never asked themselves a simple question: after he shut up initially, was he just a dead end? Was it impossible to get him to talk?

No. Obviously not, now.

The real issue here is that some people won’t even allow non-violent, non-authoritarian methods to work before they insist on “getting tough.”

This is just some folks hyping up dark-side methods because they assume we have to be as ruthless in the treatment of our enemies as they are in order to win. In truth, the ruthlessness of a state is often used against it by the terrorists or guerillas it tries to suppress.

See Abu Ghraib for an example of that. The advantage for a terrorist group is that they cannot be put to shame for being barbaric, since they build their insurgency on the foundations of a claimed necessity.

They claim they need to do what they do in order to oppose states or political elements in their own countries that are conspiratorially powerful. They claim they don’t have the option of dealing with us in a civilized manner.

If we deal with them in a mature manner, showing the world that the terrorist will be brought to justice in a calm and reasonable manner. It’s speaks to our greatness, and to the terrorist’s fullness of ****.

To put it plainly, we’re putting them on the spot in the world’s eyes for being the folks causing all the grief and mayhem. We don’t give them the room to justify their lies and slander.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 3, 2010 4:32 PM
Comment #295066


The experts all say that you’ll get more information from someone by treating them well than treating them badly.

Posted by: Max at February 3, 2010 4:36 PM
Comment #295070

I never said anything about treating them bad Stephen and Max I just said leave it to the experts and that we got lucky on this one. Try the same with the likes of KSM and see what happens. Abdulmuttalb is a novice rookie compared to KSM and some of the others.

Posted by: KAP at February 3, 2010 5:14 PM
Comment #295073

I never said anything of the sort. Quit implying I am saying something I am NOT. I am saying that KSM is a tougher bird then the kid was and the interrogators might have to use tougher means to extract info. Every person is different Stephen what technique you use on one probably WILL NOT work on another.

Posted by: KAP at February 3, 2010 7:08 PM
Comment #295086

Pretty weak. We have seen the results of de-regulation thank you. What? We should have just urged Madoff and others to just do the right thing? “oh,please,please,Stop insider trading.” Ridiculous.

Are you just giving us more proof that many on the right really have no use for civil rights or the Constitution dispite their blather to the contrary? You can stop now,we already knew that.

Posted by: bills at February 3, 2010 10:48 PM
Comment #295087

Show me where I have no use for civil rights or the constitution? All I said was we got lucky with the kid, he allegidly talked more. KSM, or someone like him, is different we may have to take a tougher approach. WHERE DOES THAT SAY I HAVE NO USE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS OR THE CONSTITUTION? I am not advocating torture. Or is it you and Stephen are reading more into what I wrote.

Posted by: KAP at February 3, 2010 11:06 PM
Comment #295092

You might note that was a question. Must admit I get insensed when some demand that my country use repulsive.uncivilized methods that disgrace us all to obtain dubious information. It ticks me off when people decide that the monsters of al quieda can define OUR actions. It ticks me off especially, when those same people that are just tickled about torture proclaim themselves Christians. Who would Jesus waterboard.

Posted by: bills at February 4, 2010 6:20 AM
Comment #295099

Well, sir, you are implying that the FBI is not up to the job, that they are not the experts on the matter. I don’t know what else to make of what you’re saying here.

As for “tougher” techniques? We got KSM because of “not so tough” techniques. We got Zarqawi.

Meanwhile, “tougher” techniques lead us on a wild goose chase. Why? Because those enhanced techniques are in all actuality the “re-education” tools of regimes that didn’t give flying crap about the truth, only conformity. These techiques are designed to break the will and draw compliance out of people. They are not designed, as many traditional interrogation techniques are, to weed out false from true.

Let me explain this with a metaphor: in fighting there are moves you use on somebody when you want to kill them, when you want to simply hurt them, and when you want to constrain them.

When we attack a subject’s mind in interrogations, we’re trying to capture the brain intact. We’re trying to wrestle his will into submission, not gut and hang it up as a trophy.

You don’t want to destroy the prize. You don’t want to fog memory, or make the guy suggestible so you never can rely on him, for fear that he’s just picking up on what you want to hear, and just making up stuff to suit. You want them to willingly tell you what they know.

You completely misunderstand my point. First, since a government can accuse anybody of a crime, if no standards apply, the whole point of the protections we hold for the terror suspects is not to protect them, but to protect all of us from a government that can’t be held accountable for it’s investigations and it’s prosecutions.

You folks fail to realize the danger your bending, sometimes breaking of these rules puts the average citizen in.

I believe in freedom, but I also believe in accountability and the rule of law. I believe the government’s regulatory power is necessary in a complex nation like our’s today. The two views are not independent, but counterbalance each other: A stronger government, but better enforced civil liberties and individual rights to ensure that it’s working for, not against us.

I believe that no society can long prosper if it hates its own law and order, but people still love their power. We must embrace both the laws and our freedoms, both the power of govenrment, and it’s being held accountable.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 4, 2010 8:34 AM
Comment #295106

I’m NOT implying the FBI is not up to the Job. All I am saying is the techniques used on Abdulmuttalb may not be able to be used on someone else. What pray tell is so hard to understand about that. Example YOU may be an easy person to be interrogated while I being older and more seasoned may be more difficult.

Posted by: KAP at February 4, 2010 9:53 AM
Comment #295109

You’re missing my point as well: The Republicans have been making a generalized case against civilian interrogation of terrorism suspects, and some, like you, have been making the case that “tougher” methods need to be used.

I’m not saying that bringing Ma and Pa and Cousin Ahmed to visit will help us get information out of everybody. But it worked here, when the Republicans were essentially saying that we’d missed all opportunities to get information out of him, short of taking him out back and beating the crap out of him.

That’s my simple point. I even linked to that essay of John and Christine’s where they complained that the FBI’s actions sacrificed so much actionable intelligence.

What they and you fail to realize is that there are a full arsenal of non-violent, nontorturous tactics that these people know of to get good quality information out of these people.

You folks assume that the only motivation somebody might have for telling you something is pain and suffering and stress. Trouble is, those are some of the worst things for clear recall. Just think of it in terms of your own state of mind after a terrible day at work. Then imagine you got into an accident, or got into a fight you lost after that bad day at work. How much would you remember, and how well?

And if somebody was inflicting all that on you on purpose, what would you do to end that bad day, especially as it got worse? What would you agree to, or agree with, to make it all stop? Certainly more than you would than if you had full possession of your critical faculties. You might even agree to lie, or agree with a lie to end it. You might agree with somebody’s version of a story, if they pushed it hard enough on you.

These are good techniques for starting a cult, or getting some guy to say he loves Big Brother and smile in the end as folks put a bullet in their heads. That’s what the techniques you’re talking about are designed to do.

These are not useful tools for intelligence gathering for precisely those reasons. They are for brainwashing, and the last thing we need these people doing is simply confirming pre-existing preconceptions. We need the information that puts our beliefs about what’s going on to the test, that features the information that corrects our misapprehensions, clarifies our understanding.

We need people to talk of their own free will and tell us the truth. These techniques are not reliable for that purpose.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 4, 2010 11:25 AM
Comment #295116

I get your point, but there comes a time that being Mr Nice guy doesn’t cut it.

Posted by: KAP at February 4, 2010 1:52 PM
Comment #295121

Yes, you keep on telling me that. But this isn’t about being nice guys. This is about preserving the quality of the information you’re getting.

Look, sometimes you can get cooperation by bringing the family, or getting mom an operation. Or, maybe you give the guy access to porno. Or maybe you rope him in by playing to his jealosy. Or maybe you appeal to his ego.

It’s not about being nice. It’s about getting what we want without messing up what we want. Some things don’t hold up well under rough treatment, and memory and cognitive performance are among those things.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 4, 2010 2:43 PM
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