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Feinstein, Bond & the Blair Imbroglio

Following on Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair’s star-crossed testimony in the Senate yesterday about Northwest Airlines Flight 253 — which the GOP leadership is using as a political cudgel against the Obama administration — the Senate intelligence committee heard from Blair and his intelligence colleagues in a closed session today. Its leadership, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.), put out this joint statement summarizing in bullet-point form their problems with what they heard:

· Intelligence dots were not connected.

· There was CIA material and signals intelligence that never reached the proper places.

· A parent’s warning was disregarded.

· The no-fly list is too limited.

· ** The Administration has recently created the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), but it is not yet operative.

· There was no process in place for Intelligence Community officials to be consulted before the individual was Mirandized**.

My emphasis. From the administration’s perspective, the statement acknowledges that the HIG wasn’t an option in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Flight 253 bomber. But it sort of buys into the frame that the HIG should be used to interrogate terror suspects in the United States, which is something that officials as late as yesterday were strongly denying is on the table.

Then there’s the Mirandization issue. The senators don’t say that Abdulmutallab shouldn’t have been Mirandized, which in the current political environment counts as another silver lining for the Obama team. But they’re also suggesting that the intelligence community leadership should get a say in the application of Miranda. Maybe there’s room for consensus on that point.

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