George, let me ask you a question. Does Governor Palin have a point there when she's talking about the failed Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, being able to invoke our constitutional rights?
WILL: She has a point in that it seemed reflexive on the part of the government without much thought about this. Here was someone who came from Yemen, from Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, who you would think would have interesting things to tell us, and they instantly Mirandized him, after, what, 50 minutes of conversation. I understand he's still being interrogated, but he still does have a lawyer.
The point of counterterrorism is not to prosecute successfully terrorists; it's to prevent terrorists from committing their acts in the first place. It is prevention, not prosecution. And this looked like just another way of saying, "We're not George Bush," which isn't the point.
MARCUS: Well, I mean, they -- it actually might have been a way of saying, "We are George Bush," since that's exactly what happened with the shoe bomber.
I think that it's fairly clear that that particular incident was not well-handled. I agree with George. It was -- there was not enough consideration given to differing routes of dealing with it. On the other hand, he was not instantly Mirandized. He did answer questions for 50 minutes. From my point of view, that was not long enough, and I think next time around there's going to be a lot more consideration given to various routes.
At the same time, I think it's been completely over-dramatized what rights he would have gotten in another setting. Whether or not he's instantly Mirandized and whether or not he's interrogated is one thing. Whether he's tried in a criminal court or in a military commission, he's still going to be invested with all sorts of rights that apparently Sarah Palin's not comfortable with.
HUNT: Well, but I think the problem here was that the administration itself six months earlier set up something, the high- value intelligence group, that was precisely for areas like this.
And the premise, which I think is anti-Bush, is that a skilled interrogator is far more important in getting information from a terrorist than all the waterboarding and Cheney-esque tortures in the world. I think they're right on that, and they -- they bypassed it. They didn't use it this time.
TAPPER: Well, it wasn't operative until a couple weeks ago.
HUNT: Well, they set it up in August, though, Jake.
HUNT: And Dennis Blair wasn't aware that it wasn't operative. That's -- that's a problem.
The second problem -- I don't think prosecutions are unimportant here. They didn't have any prosecutorial problem here. There were 40 witnesses on that airplane. They had material evidence -- his underwear, if you will -- so I think they botched this one up.
I agree with Ruth. I don't think it was a terrible...
PODESTA: Jake, the proof's in the pudding. He's talking. The FBI has gone to Nigeria, got his parents to cooperate. They've talked to them. He's cooperating. They've already rolled up a cell in Malaysia, evidently, from information that he's given.
And I think that, you know, you can huff and puff, as former Governor Palin likes to do, but the proof's in the pudding. He's talking. They've gotten actionable intelligence. They're acting on it. And I think that's -- we've got to...