Constitution Project Rejects Governor McDonnell’s Assessment of Intelligence Gathering through Traditional Federal Prosecution

CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

WASHINGTON – In the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, Governor Bob McDonnell suggested that federal authorities erred in choosing to prosecute Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in traditional federal court. He implied that the government would have obtained additional intelligence had it kept him outside the jurisdiction of our traditional legal system.

In fact, multiple signatories to Beyond Guantanamo: A Bipartisan Declaration have supported the administration’s decision to prosecute Abdulmutallab in federal court. Former U.S. Attorneys James Brady and Richard Rossman, both of Michigan, in an opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press said, in part:

“Those who propose transferring Abdulmutallab to military custody for interrogation ignore that he reportedly proffered valuable information immediately upon his arrest. They imply that military interrogation will use “alternative methods of interrogation” that will therefore elicit more accurate and useable information.

We find this implication extremely disturbing.

First, abusive methods of interrogation are not consistent with our values and constitutional principles, and treating some criminal cases differently from others would ultimately result in fundamental changes to our criminal justice system.

Second, they do not work; traditional interrogation techniques have repeatedly been shown to elicit more, and more accurate, information.

We applaud the administration’s decision to try Abdulmutallab in federal court, even while we remain troubled by its November announcement that it will try other terror suspects in the flawed military commission process.”

Others have also supported the decision to prosecute Abdulmutallab in federal court, including:

Mickey Edwards:

Bob Barr:

David Irvine and Virginia Sloan:

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