White House Still Can't Say if Obama Knew in Advance on Christmas Day That Underwear Bomber Would Be Mirandized

February 17, 2010 - 9:22 PM
Almost two months after the attempted Christmas Day terror-bombing on a Northwest airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the White House still cannot say whether President Barack Obama knew in advance that the suspect would be read his Miranda rights.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs listens to a reporters question, Monday, March 9, 2009, during his daily press briefing in the White House Pressroom at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – Almost two months after the attempted Christmas Day terror-bombing on a Northwest airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the White House still cannot say whether President Barack Obama knew in advance that the suspect would be read his Miranda rights on the same day as the attempted attack and after he had been interrogated for only 50 minutes.
 
For the second time this month, CNSNews.com asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Wednesday if the president knew in advance that terror-suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would be read his rights to remain silent and to consult with an attorney. 
 
Gibbs told CNSNews.com back on Feb. 3 that he would look at the timeline to attempt to get an answer. 
 
But on Feb. 17, CNSNews.com asked, “You had said a couple weeks back that you would check the timeline as to whether the president knew in advance whether Abdulmutallab had been or would be Mirandized.”
 
Gibbs said, “I did not. I don't know the answer to that.”
 
Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate explosives he had hidden in his underwear while aboard Northwest Flight 253 as it flew over Detroit.
 
FBI agents told Abdulmutallab he had the right to remain silent and consult a lawyer only about 10 hours after he was arrested. Up until that point, the terrorist had only been interrogated for about 50 minutes. After he was read his Miranda rights, Abdulmutallab initially stopped talking to federal investigators.
 
Obama on airline, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

President Barack Obama speaks to the media about the recent air travel incident on Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Administration officials have since said that Abdulmutallab began cooperating with federal law enforcement officials again after some of his family members had been brought to the United States from Nigeria.
 
Republicans in Congress have been critical of the decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab. Also, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter have all testified to Congress that they were not consulted in advance about the Christmas Day decision to tell the terrorist he had the right to remain silent.
 
The administration filed an initial criminal complaint in federal court against Abdulmutallab on Dec. 26, the day after he was Mirandized. Later, on Jan. 6, the administration formally indicted Abdulmutallab.
 
On Feb. 3, CNSNews.com asked Gibbs, “Did the President know in advance Abdulmutallab would be Mirandized?”
 
“I'm sorry?” Gibbs first replied.
 
CNSNews.com asked again, “Did the president know in advance that Abdulmutallab would be Mirandized?”
 
Gibbs answered: “I'll go back and look at the timeline. Those decisions were made, as you know, by the attorney general, by the FBI, and done so in conjunction and in accordance with agencies throughout the government.”
 
“I understand he (Obama) was notified before they indicted him,” asked CNSNews.com, "but before the Mirandizing on Christmas Day was—”
 
Gibbs said, “The answer that I have is: I don't have the timeline with me.”