POLITICS
04/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Abdulmutallab Investigation Makes The Case For Lawful Interrogation Instead Of Torture

Last week, I was puzzled to read Marc Thiessen make the claim that the Obama administration was getting too good at eliminating terrorists with drone strikes, and that this was putting the country at risk because it was, per Thiessen, draining the available pool of terrorist operatives that we could capture and torture. It was a strange thing to say, considering the fact that even as he wrote those words, the FBI was carrying out a highly effective investigation into Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's connections to al Qaeda. And if you want to get a a picture of just how effective it is, check out Eli Lake's piece in this morning's Washington Times.

U.S. and allied counterterrorism authorities have launched a global manhunt for English-speaking terrorists trained in Yemen who are planning attacks on the United States, based on intelligence provided by the suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing after he began cooperating.

U.S. officials told The Washington Times that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, facing charges as a would-be suicide bomber, revealed during recent cooperation with the FBI that he met with other English speakers at a terrorist training camp in Yemen. Three U.S. intelligence officials, including one senior official, disclosed on the condition of anonymity some details of the additional bomb plots.

I think the Pete Hoekstras and Susan Collinses of the world had hoped that the Abdulmutallab case would go a long way toward demonstrating the shortcomings of law enforcement agencies, the rule of law, and constitutional constraints in the war on terror. As it turns out, it's quite the opposite: the law enforcement approach proves to be fleet, actionable, and effective. Says Lake: "The White House has defended the decision to treat Mr. Abdulmutallab as a criminal on the grounds that the suspect's family has coaxed him into cooperating, something that likely would not have occurred had he not been afforded access to counsel."

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