Key Senate Republicans today called on Attorney General Eric Holder to testify before Congress about the decisions that the Justice Department made about a man who allegedly tried to ignite explosives in his underpants on a Dec. 25 Detroit-bound airplane flight.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and four top Republican committee members wrote in a letter to Holder that the decision to have FBI agents interrogate Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and read the Nigerian his Miranda rights was “hasty.” They added that it appears that there was “little, if any, coordination” between the DOJ and national security officials.
“It is critical that the American people have a full and timely understanding of the policy and legal rationale upon which this ill-advised decision was made,” Sens. McConnell, Jeff Sessions, (R-Ala.), Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote. Sessions is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee; Bond is the top Republican on the Intelligence panel; Collins is the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security panel; and McCain is the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller defended the decision, saying in a statement last week that the DOJ consulted national security officials before Abdulmutallab was charged in federal court and not taken into military custody. It is not clear exactly when in the decision-making process the DOJ consulted the national security officials on Abdulmutallab.
FBI Director Robert Mueller testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the events surrounding the alleged attempted bombing were “fast-moving” and authorities had “no time” to get other investigators in place. But Mueller said decisions were made “appropriately,” including the decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights.
The letter is the latest in a series of efforts by members of Congress to address the Abdulmutallab case.
Sessions previously wrote a letter to Holder last week demanding to know who made the decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a civilian. Earlier this week, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking member Collins asked Holder to remove Abdulmutallab from federal custody and treat him as a military prisoner.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation yesterday that would compel the DOJ to confer with the Director of National Intelligence and the secretary of Defense before deciding if a suspected terrorist should be tried treated as a civilian.