Former 9/11 Chairs Criticize Handling of Detroit Christmas Day Bomber Case

Terrorism and intelligence communities should have been consulted, they say.

ByABC News
January 26, 2010, 3:03 PM

Jan. 26, 2010 — -- The two former chairmen of the 9/11 Commission expressed concerns today about how security agencies responded to the arrest of alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and the decision to quickly charge him instead of attempting to gain valuable intelligence information.

Before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, former 9/11 Commission vice-chair Lee Hamilton testified there needs to be more urgency when confronting Al Qaeda, saying the terrorist group "is on the march, not on the run…the sense of urgency for terrorism has been too low."

"Here is a man who may have trained with other people who are trying to get into this country one way or another, who may have worked with some of the top al Qaeda leadership in Yemen or al Qaeda generally and we don't know the details of that," Thomas Kean, former chairman of the 9/11 Commission, told the committee. "He may know about other plots that are pending and we haven't found out about them."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she was shocked to hear about the decision to charge Abdulmutallab and not continuing interrogating him.

"This has such implications for our nation's ability to better understand what may be further plots emanating from Yemen," Collins said.

Asked about the former 9/11 Chairs' comments, the Justice Department referred to a statement issued last week by Matthew Miller, the Director of Public Affairs for the Justice Department.

Miller said, "Since September 11, 2001, every terrorism suspect apprehended in the United States by either the Bush administration or the Obama administration has been initially arrested, held or charged under federal criminal law. Al Qaeda terrorists such as Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui and others have all been prosecuted in federal court, and the arrest and charging of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was handled no differently. Those who now argue that a different action should have been taken in this case were notably silent when dozens of terrorists were successfully prosecuted in federal court by the previous administration."