The man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day should have been interrogated by special terrorism investigators instead of FBI agents, the nation’s intelligence chief said Wednesday, adding that senior national security officials were not consulted before FBI and Justice Department authorities questioned him and pursued criminal charges.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair faulted the decision not to use the “High Value Interrogation Group” (HIG) to question alleged al-Qaeda operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
“That unit was created exactly for this purpose — to make a decision on whether a certain person who’s detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means,” Blair told the Senate homeland security committee.
The intelligence chief said the interrogation group was created by the White House last year to handle overseas cases but will be expanded now to domestic ones. “We did not invoke the HIG in this case; we should have,” he added.
Blair amended his remarks later in written statements, acknowledging that the interrogation group is not “fully operational.” However, he maintained, “There should be a decision process right at the outset as to the balance between intelligence-gathering and evidence for prosecution.” [continued…]