unlawful enemy combatant, turned over to the military and questioned for possible prosecution in a military tribunal," Mukasey told ABC's "World News."
"Intelligence is a very valuable but fleeting commodity. It has a very short shelf life. He had current information when he got off that plane, that information ceases to be current possibly within days… By the time a plea negotiation takes place his information is going to be close to worthless," he said.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani agreed that it was unwise to put the case in the criminal court system because as soon as Abdulmutallab was assigned a lawyer, questioning had to stop.
"Why would you stop it? There's no reason to stop it, particularly since the administration has created military courts," said Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor.
A criminal trial does not necessarily interfere with the collection of information and can have long term benefits.
"Trying him in a civilian instead of a military court in my view is basically a victory for the rule of law," said Alan Vinegrad, who is also a former New York federal prosecutor. "Basically in that way we are telling him and the world that even in prosecuting terrorists we are going to follow the rule of the law, we aren't going to advocate our principles just to reach the right result."
Vinegrad said a defense lawyer can even be helpful to the goverrnment.
"In the beginning a defense lawyer is probably going to tell their client not to talk until the defense lawyer knows what the case is about, but very often defense lawyers can be the instrument to bring about cooperation from their client which helps not only their client but also the government. That happens all the time," he said.
Former FBI agent and terrorism specialist Jack Cloonan agreed with Vinegrad.
"We've only had three military trials of terrorists, but since 9/11 we've had over 200 terrorists convicted in criminal court. We know this system has worked and been tested. Why roll the dice?" Cloonan told ABC News' Law and Justice Unit.
Those convictions include Richard Reid, the shoe bomber who tried to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in the soles of his shoes, and 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui.
Since he's only 23, Abdulmutallab may be willing to make a plea that would get him out of prison in about 20 years in exchange for information. "Once they cross that bridge, they can't shut up," said Cloonan.