Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Abdulmutallab speaks

So, Abdulmutallab, the 'crotch bomber' has been co-operating with investigators 'despite' the use of standard FBI process [ NY Times].

This should hardly be a surprise. Police are trained to perform interrogations, they have years of experience. CIA agents are not.

Even so, the latest Republican Party talking point is the rather weird claim that reading Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights may have persuaded him to stop talking.

Let us recap the circumstances of Abdulmutallab's arrest. He was taken off the plane he had attempted to bomb. He had severely injured himself in the attempt to detonate the bomb. The passengers and crew had at a minimum removed his trousers and underwear. It seems quite likely that after discovering the bomb in his underpants, the passengers/crew had stripped him completely naked.

Given those circumstances, it seems rather unlikely that Abdulmutallab would have any expectation of a not-guilty verdict.

How could talking to the investigators possibly make Abdulmutallab's case any worse? He can't claim mistaken identity, he can't plausibly deny carrying the bomb, being aware of carrying it or attempting to detonate it.

Abdulmutallab is certain to receive a life sentence regardless of what he says. This is not a difficult case where a confession or an unintended slip is going to make the difference between conviction and acquittal. It is as close to being an open-and-shut case as they come.

The only chance Abdulmutallab has to improve his living conditions during his life sentence or to earn the possibility of parole in the distant future is to co-operate.

Incidentally, the man appears to have burnt away his penis in the attempt. How could torture do anything more than give him something else to think about? If he is being waterboarded he is going to blame his captors for his situation. If he is being being treated as an ordinary criminal he has plenty of time to build up resentment against the group who caused his injury.

At the time of his arrest Abdulmutallab was probably expecting to be taken to Gitmo and subjected to torture. The point at which his Miranda rights were read would be the first point at which the actions of the authorities significantly departed from his expectations.

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