WASHINGTON - The Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day was read his Miranda rights nine hours after his arrest, according to a detailed chronology released Sunday by White House officials.
They made the timing of events during the arrest, initial interrogation and medical treatment of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab available after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made statements about the process that administration officials believe are misleading.
"It makes no sense to get a guy off an airplane who just tried to blow up the airplane and read him his rights within 50 minutes," Graham said in an interview on Fox News.
Graham and several other Republicans have been criticizing the handling of Abdulmutallab, 23, for what they see as the administration's faulty response to a terrorist assault on a U.S. airliner. Graham was echoing the Feb. 3 assertion by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that "an al-Qaida-trained terrorist . . . was handed over to a lawyer after a 50-minute interview."
Although administration officials have given background briefings and answered questions in recent weeks about Abdulmutallab, they have not fully presented basic facts about how he was handled.
The first questioning of the suspect, which took place more than three hours after his arrest and without him being read his Miranda rights, ended after 50 minutes when doctors said his medical condition had deteriorated, according to the chronology. When interrogation resumed, some five hours later, the Nigerian refused to answer further questions and was then read his Miranda rights.
No administration official has said directly that the suspect had stopped answering questions before he was read his rights. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs came close to doing so during an interview on MSNBC last week: "He didn't just stop talking because he got Mirandized; he stopped talking because he was trained to stop talking."