GMA: 'No Proof' Lawyered-Up Mutallab Would Talk Less

Chris Cuomo says there's no proof Mutallab will talk less as a lawyered-up criminal defendant than as an enemy combatant.  Suggestions to the contrary are just politics. George Stephanopolous manifests the same problem his old boss did: he doesn't know what the meaning of "is," is.  Steph claims Mutallab "is" singing.  But reports are that the would-be mass-murderer was singing—but isn't any more.
 
It was all part of Good Morning America's defense today of Pres. Obama's decision to give the NWA 253 bomber the full ACLU treatment, rather than dealing with him as the enemy combatant he is.
 
Fortunately, Rudy Giuliani was there to set things straight . . .

CHRIS CUOMO: There are rumors about when he decided to talk, and given a lawyer that he then became quiet. But there is again no proof that the CIA is any better than the FBI in terms of getting people to give statements or that he would not be more prone to give any kind of testimony because of the system he's in.

ROBIN ROBERTS: Well, George is going to talk to Rudy Giuliani in a moment about the fact that he has stopped talking, right?

CUOMO: Well, our reporting reveals, yes, he has stopped talking, but the question is why?  We're told that he stopped talking before he ever got a lawyer, so maybe he exposed himself [?].  And again, this assumption that you can get more information out of him [as an enemy combatant]—there's no real proof of that.  This comes down to how we want these types of defendants treated as a society.  Do you want him to have rights, or do you want him to have less rights?  That's the question: it's a political one.

. . .

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's pick up on what Robin and Chris were just talking about, this Abdul Mutallab case.  You've been quite critical of the decision to interrogate him and try him in the civilian system. But FBI officials say they've talked to him for over 30 hours, he's singing like a bird, he's providing useable intelligence: what's wrong with that?

RUDY GIULIANI: Why stop?  I mean if we've done 30 hours of questioning, basically in that first 30 hours, if this is a typical case, which it probably is, you get some valid information and you get some lies. Takes a lot longer than 30 hours to debrief a terrorist with the kind of history that he appears to have, the kind of knowledge that he appears to have.  Why would you stop it?  There's no reason to stop it.

Let's deconstruct:

Cuomo says there's "no proof" that a criminal defendant with an aggressive lawyer holding his hand will be less likely to talk than an enemy combatant held without counsel in some place like Gitmo. Really?  Isn't there proof that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed started singing when subjected to enhanced interrogation?  Anyhow, Chris, we're allowed to use our common sense.  A lawyer's first job would be to tell young Umar to shut up—which he apparently has. Even if Cuomo's right that Mutallab stopped talking before he got a lawyer, if held as an enemy combatant there'd be every opportunity to get him talking again.  Not so with a lawyer at his side.

Note also the straw man Cuomo sets up: "there is again no proof that the CIA is any better than the FBI in terms of getting people to give statements."  It's not a question of which agency has the better interrogators. It's that the FBI would be hand-cuffed by having Mutallab's mouthpiece counselling him to clam, whereas the CIA interrogators would operate in a lawyer-free environment.

Then there's Stephanopolous, who gets his tenses twisted, saying of Mutallab that "he's singing" and "he's providing useable intelligence."  That would be "was," George.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.