Oh Well, It's Only Terrorism She's Talking About. Maddow Gets it Wrong Yet Again.

In fairness to Rachel Maddow, at least she sounds convincing, even though her earnest assertions invariably collapse under scrutiny. Maddow embodies the smarmy belief that sincerity is all that matters -- fake it well and you've got it made.

Here's Maddow, for example, appearing as a panelist on Sunday's "Meet the Press" and on her MSNBC cable show Monday night (first and second parts of embedded video), weighing in on interrogation of terrorists --

MADDOW: There's, there isn't in this case and there hasn't been in any known modern terrorism case any correlation between the usefulness of an interrogation and whether or not somebody gets read their Miranda rights. It just isn't the case. And in every single instance, every single terrorism case where there's been an arrest in this country in a terrorism case since 9/11, every single one has been handled, the person has been handled as a civilian criminal.

There was a moment when Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri were handed, handled in military custody. There's nothing magic about the time that they were in military custody. They didn't do any more magical forms of talking that they wouldn't do when they were civilians.

Once again, with feeling -- every single one -- in the unlikely event you missed Maddow's emphasis. And on her MSNBC show Monday, Maddow said this --

MADDOW: Every single person arrested in this country since 9/11 on terrorism charges or even terrorism-related charges, every single one has been handled as a civilian criminal -- every single one. And of the years that have elapsed since 9/11, let's see, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, what came next?, oh yeah, '08, and then there was '09, yeah. After all of the years, of all the years that have elapsed since 2001, of all of those years in which every single person arrested in this country on terrorism charges was handled as a civilian criminal, in all but one of those years Dick Cheney was the vice president of the United States.

CHENEY (appearing on "This Week" on Feb. 14, referring to Christmas Day bomber): I think the proper way to deal with it would have been to treat him as an enemy combatant) 

MADDOW: That would be a lot more convincing if you'd ever done that yourself when you had the chance. Every single person arrested in this country since 9/11 on terrorism charges -- I repeat -- has been handled as a civilian criminal, which includes being Mirandized, every single one. The only two outliers are Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri, both of whom were in military custody for a while, during which they didn't cooperate with their interrogators by the way, but then even they were ultimately handled in the federal criminal system, treated as civilian criminals. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Except for the whopping exception you won't hear from Maddow, seeing how it would destroy her Unified Theory on Proper Prosecution of Jihadists. The exception has to do with Padilla and what occurred after he was transferred to military custody in 2002.

In an illuminating, well-sourced article posted Feb. 11 at WeeklyStandard.com, Thomas Joscelyn demolishes liberals' contention in the utter pointlessness of obtaining intelligence from terrorists after they've been designated enemy combatants.

Joscelyn writes that after Padilla was initially detained by the FBI in May 2002 --

The FBI questioned Padilla for several hours but got nowhere. A copy of the FBI's 302 memo written after the initial questioning of Padilla shows that al Qaeda's man gave the bureau nothing. Padilla talked about his personal history but said nothing about his real intentions or his nefarious friends.

... The FBI even offered to put Padilla up in a hotel so they could continue their conversation. But when the agents tried to turn the conversation towards Padilla's al Qaeda ties, he shut down the interview. "He stood up and told me the interview was over and it was time for him to go," (FBI agent Russell) Fincher recalled during testimony.

At that point, Padilla was read a Miranda warning, arrested on a warrant and transferred to a correctional center in New York. "There he stayed for one month without giving up anything of importance to the FBI," Joscelyn writes, whereupon the Bush administration decided to try Padilla as an enemy combatant. "After Padilla was transferred to the brig on June 9, 2002, the leading newspapers noted the chief reason for the move: Padilla wasn't cooperating with authorities." --

"Officials said Padilla has refused to cooperate since his arrest," the Los Angeles Times reported. The New York Times elaborated: "Officials have justified his detention [in military custody] by saying he is considered to be an enemy combatant. He has refused to cooperate with the authorities who have questioned him."

And according to the Washington Post on June 12, 2002 --

[Padilla]'s unwillingness to cooperate with authorities was the primary factor in his transfer to military custody, the officials said. One official said [Padilla] repeatedly resisted the efforts of FBI agents and representatives of the U.S. attorney's office to interview him, both through his lawyer and at least once in a face-to-face meeting inside the MCC. (correctional facility in New York)

Two years later, Joscelyn writes, the Defense Department "released a memo summarizing what was known about Padilla both before and after he was transferred into the military's custody." The memo cites no admissions by Padilla prior to his transfer while "nearly all the information on Padilla up that point came from other al Qaeda detainees and sources."

However, according to the memo, since June 2002 "additional and more detailed intelligence information about Jose Padilla has been developed and made available in unclassified form." They included --

Padilla has admitted that he attended the al Qaeda-affiliated al Farouq training camp in Afghanistan in September-October 2000 under the name Abdullah Al-Espani. ...

Padilla also admits that he first met al Qaeda military commander Abu Hafs al-Masri, aka Mohammed Atef ("Atef"), in Afghanistan when Atef approached him in the al Farouq camp and asked him about his commitment to Islam. Padilla believes this high-ranking al Qaeda member began the process of evaluating his commitment and suitability for al-Qaeda operations. ...

Padilla made his second trip to Afghanistan approximately two months later, entering Pakistan on June 11, 2001. ... Padilla admits he was first tasked with an operation to blow up apartment buildings in the United States with natural gas by Atef about one month later, at a meeting in Qandahar in July or August 2001. Padilla accepted the tasking. ...

Padilla admits he stayed at a number of safe houses in and around Qandahar with Atef in September 2001 and after the September 2001 attacks on the United States, including the safe house at which Atef was killed by U.S. military bombing in mid-November 2001. [footnote omitted] Padilla, who was with the Explosives Expert at his safe house when Atef's safe house was bombed, admits he returned to help dig Atef's body out of the rubble. ...

According to Padilla, he first met KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) in Karachi, Pakistan after Abu Zubaydah sent Padilla and his Accomplice [Weekly Standard's note: The accomplice is Binyam Mohamed] there in March 2002 to present the nuclear/dirty bomb operation. After being taken to a safe house by Ammar al-Baluchi, Padilla presented the idea to KSM, who advised that the idea was a little too complicated and that he wanted Padilla to resurrect the apartment building operation originally discussed with Atef. KSM wanted Padilla to hit targets in New York City, although Florida and Washington, D.C., were discussed as well. Padilla had discretion in the selection of the apartments. Padilla now admits that he accepted the mission. ...

"During his initial interview with the FBI," Joscelyn writes, "Padilla wouldn't even admit that he traveled into Afghanistan. Once in the military's custody, Padilla admitted that he conspired with some of the most senior al Qaeda operatives of all time to attack the American homeland after 9/11 from Afghan and Pakistani soil."

True, Padilla was eventually remanded back to civilian custody, as was al-Marri, and convicted on lesser charges due to concerns about admissibility of evidence and risk of exposure to intelligence agents and methods. But none of this changes the fact that Maddow is 180-degrees, dangerously wrong about Padilla not doing any "magical forms of talking" -- Maddow's quaint way of referring to divulgence of actionable intelligence -- after Padilla was designated an enemy combatant.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts