Debunked: ‘Christmas day bomber’ read Miranda rights – but not for nine hours
A detailed timeline released Sunday by the Obama Administration seems to have finally debunked Republican claims that a would-be terrorist clammed up after being read his Miranda rights informing him of his right to remain silent.
According to the timeline, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab stopped talking about fifty minutes into his interrogation after his medical condition deteriorated as a result of severe burns incurred during an attempt to take down a jetliner outside Detroit.
The 23-year-old Nigerian man was detained at 12:03 p.m. on Christmas day after allegedly trying to blow up a plane en route from Amsterdam. He was taken to a University of Michigan hospital for treatment of second- and third-degree burns about thirty minutes later, at 12:45 p.m.
“The first questioning of the suspect, which took place more than three hours after his arrest and without him being read his Miranda rights, ended after 50 minutes when doctors said his medical condition had deteriorated, according to the chronology,” veteran investigative reporter Walter Pincus writes in Monday’s Washington Post. When interrogation resumed, some five hours later, the Nigerian refused to answer further questions and was then read his Miranda rights.”
The chronology appears to directly contradict Republican claims that Abdulmutallab only stopped speaking after he was read his rights.
On Sunday, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham quipped, “It makes no sense to get a guy off an airplane who just tried to blow up the airplane and read him his rights within 50 minutes,” and on Feb. 3, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell questioned “why an al-Qaeda-trained terrorist fresh from Yemen and caught in the act of an attempt to blow up an airliner was handed over to a lawyer after a 50-minute interview.”
Both claims are apparently untrue.
According to the report, the FBI’s Detroit office assigned two agents to interrogate the suspect: one, a counterintelligence “agent with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and the second, “a specialist in bomb material.” They begin questioning at about 3:30 p.m. at the hospital where Abdulmutallab is being treated, after speaking with doctors about his condition.
“After 50 minutes FBI agents end the questioning ‘when doctors need to take him in for additional treatment because his medical condition has deteriorated,'” the chronology says.
Shortly thereafter, Abdulmutallab underwent surgery, which lasted roughly four hours.
At nine p.m., when he regains consciousness, he refuses to answer questions. Only then, the chronology says, is he read his Miranda rights, informing him of his right to remain silent.
The Administration’s chronology aligns with testimony given by FBI Director Robert Mueller to Congress earlier this month.
“FBI Director Robert Mueller testified Tuesday that FBI agents questioned Abdulmutallab until he entered surgery, and that the suspect was not advised of his Miranda right to remain silent until after he emerged from surgery,” CBS News wrote Feb. 3. “A federal law enforcement official, requesting anonymity to discuss an ongoing case, said the suspect made clear upon emerging from surgery he was going to stop talking and then was given his Miranda warning.”