White House: Justice Dept. made decision to hold Detroit bomber in civilian justice system 

Top Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan says the Justice Department made the decision to handle the case of Detroit terror bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the criminal justice system.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Brennan was asked why the Obama administration did not choose to treat Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant. "He was arrested on U.S. soil," Brennan answered. "The Department of Justice makes that determination about what is the best tool to use."

Pressed about reports Abdulmutallab stopped talking to investigators after he was given a lawyer and read his Miranda rights, Brennan said, "We have an array of tools that we will use" in the case. "[Abdulmutallab] was in fact talking to people who were detaining him…Just because somebody is going to be put into the criminal legal process doesn't mean we don't have other opportunities to get information from him."

Brennan conceded that Abdulmutallab "doesn't have to" give any information to FBI interrogators. But he said the administration still has some leverage over him. "He knows that there are certain things that are on the table, and if he wants to engage with us in a productive manner, there are ways that he can do that," Brennan said. He did not elaborate on what those things "on the table" are, although he appeared to be suggesting that Abdulmutallab could cooperate in return for more lenient treatment than he would otherwiest receive.

Brennan pointed out that there were a number of terrorism suspects captured during the Bush administration -- Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui, Jose Padilla -- who were tried in the criminal justice system.

Brennan also said the Obama administration will continue to send Guantanamo detainees to Yemen. "Absolutely," he said. "We're going to be working closely with the Yemeni government." Brennan added: "Guantanamo must be closed…It has served as a propaganda tool for al Qaeda."

Finally, Brennan explained the Obama administration's decision to close the U.S. embassy in Yemen. There have been rising threats against the embassy, Brennan said, and the administration wants to "make sure we're doing everything possible to protect our diplomats there."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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