The Who2 Blog

Chrismas Day Bomber Abdulmutallab Arrest Timeline

Government officials have released the timeline of when the Christmas Day bomb suspect — a.k.a. “the underwear bomber” — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested and, later, advised of his Miranda rights.

Being “Mirandized” means being advised of your constitutional right to refuse to answer questions unless you have legal representation.

The administration of President Barack Obama has been criticized by political opponents for how Abdulmutallab’s arrest was handled, in an effort to portray the president as “soft on terrorism.”

Without being Mirandized, any statements made by Abdulmutallab during questioning would not be admissible in court. So, for example, if he had not been advised of his rights, he could have said “I sure am glad I tried to blow up that plane. I planned and really tried to blow up that plane, and here’s the name of the guy who told me to do it….” — and none of that would have been allowed in court during his prosecution.

Although the timeline of Umar Abdulmutallab’s arrest was not known, a Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told Fox News and their viewers, “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.”

Senator Graham may be right that it “makes no sense.” And it didn’t happen that way.

Republican Mitch McConnell, a senator from Kentucky, likewise mischaracterized the arrest timeline, saying Abdulmutallab was “handed over to a lawyer after a 50-minute interview.”

McConnell is correct that Abdulmutallab had legal counsel after a 50-minute interview — but it was several hours after the interview, as the timeline shows.

The first interview, in fact, occurred three hours after Abdulmutallab’s arrest. It lasted fifty minutes because doctors told investigators that the Nigerian suspect was not healthy enough to continue (Abdulmutallab was badly burned in his botched attempt).

Then, five hours later, the Christmas Day bomb suspect was read his Miranda rights. Then he clammed up, some nine hours — not fifty minutes — after his arrest.

For the timeline and more, the Washington Post story is here.

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