Forward to next post: “No one goes around suggesting that everyone should become their own autonomous cheesemakers and cheering the death of the cheese industry. Why? Because that would result in a lot of shitty cheese.”
Remember Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber”?
Remember how a Rasmussen poll concluded that 58% of US voters favored waterboarding him, while the conservative media staggered toward its collective fainting couch at the idea of reading him his Miranda rights?
Well, according to an article on Reuters today, he’s been providing “useful, actionable intelligence” in the time since he was Mirandized. Know how we got that intelligence? Rather than disappearing him in some gulag or subjecting him to “enhanced interrogation”, it appears that US officials have treated his injuries and “brought family members from Nigeria to help convince him” to talk.
So now we have information about developing threats in Yemen, more reliable information than we would have had by torturing the guy.
And it’s not fruit of the poison tree, so it’s admissible evidence in court (perhaps not open court, depending on security issues). This means we can put Abdulmutallab on trial like any other person accused of a crime. (Which, interestingly, means he is more likely to be convicted and, if so, given a serious sentence than if he went before a military commission.)
I think this is a good thing for us. I believe that by holding a criminal trial, by looking into his face, hearing what he has to say and the case against him, we’ll learn more about the threats that face us than we have from years of whispering our fears in the dark. And if he’s found guilty, we can then sentence him according to our tradition of law, which is older and stronger and wiser than at least 58% of us have shown ourselves to be.
And the next time someone is concerned that a son, a brother, or a friend is planning an attack, it will be that much easier to step forward, because we treat accused people decently. No matter what our enemies say.
There’s plenty I’m not happy about with the Obama administration right at the present moment. I want health care reform so bad it aches. But this would never have happened under
a Bush presidency*, or a McCain one. We’re doing the right thing here, the intelligent thing, and it’s important that we stand up and say it.
* I stand corrected. Where were the fainting couches then?