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No Regrets on Interrogation of Abdulmutallab

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White House Has ‘Full Confidence’ in Blair, Panetta, and Napolitano

No Regrets on Interrogation of Abdulmutallab

Amid widespread criticism of the President’s national security team in the week after the attempted bombing of Delta Flight 253, the White House yesterday voiced “full confidence” in that team.

When asked at the White House press briefing if the President had “full confidence” in National Security Agency head Admiral Dennis Blair and in CIA Director Leon Panetta, Press Secretary Leon Panetta replied: “He does.”

Noting that neither the question nor Gibbs’ answer included a similar endorsement of Janet Napolitano, I asked him whether President Obama he had the same “full confidence” in his secretary of homeland security.

“He does,” the President’s top spokesman told me.

“And there has been so sounding out of people outside the Administration to wait in the wings for a possible [national security team] shakeup?” I asked.

“No,” replied Gibbs.

Earlier in the briefing, there had been several questions about the length of time government interrogators had to question Abdulmutallab between the arrest of the “Delta Bomber” on Christmas Day and his retention of a lawyer.  NBC-TV’s Chuck Todd noted the press speculation that Abdulmutallab had “clammed up” since signing up his defense counsel.

Gibbs insisted that the man who attempted to blow up Delta Flight 253 on Christmas Day “spent a number of hours with FBI investigators” and provided them with “useable intelligence.”

“Do the intelligence chiefs who have been meeting with the President,” I asked, “Do they feel that the interrogators had enough time with Abdulmutallab before the lawyers came in?”

“It is my understanding that the FBI does,” Gibbs told me, “Yeah.”

“And the CIA and the National Security Agency?” I asked.

“I have not talked directly to them,” he replied, “I can certainly look into that.  But, again, if you look at decisions that were made about [al Qaeda member and “shoe bomber”] Richard Reid — Richard Reid, after less than three days, had already been indicted, and that puts him in a criminal justice system here.  He was tried in Boston and put in a maximum security facility in Florence, Colorado.  The same is true of [terrorist] Zaccarias Moussaoi.  He entered the US criminal justice system, was convicted not far from here and sent to Colorado as well.” 

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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