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Tom Ridge: Terror suspect doesn't deserve 'full range' of rights

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tom Ridge, secretary of homeland security 2003-05, appears on "Larry King Live"
  • He comments on Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, suspect in failed airline attack
  • Ridge: "I don't think he deserves the full range of protections of our criminal justice system"
  • He passes on criticism of Janet Napolitano, current chief of Homeland Security

(CNN) -- The man who allegedly lit an explosive on board a U.S.-bound international flight deserves none of the constitutional protections afforded American citizens, a former top Bush administration official said Monday.

Tom Ridge, who served as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005, made the comments on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"I take a look at this individual who has been charged criminally, does that mean he gets his Miranda warnings? The only information we get is if he volunteers it?" Ridge said. "He's not a citizen of this country. He's a terrorist, and I don't think he deserves the full range of protections of our criminal justice system embodied in the Constitution of the United States."

Ridge also said he was "not surprised" about reports that two former detainees in the detention center at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had joined up with the group that claimed responsibility for Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab's failed terrorist attack.

"It's a symptom of a larger challenge that this country has, and that's how do you adjudicate these individuals that we pick up from these places and make a determination if they should be incarcerated for a long time, if not permanently," he said.

Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, also known as Muhamad al-Awfi, and Said Ali Shari were released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 by the Bush administration.

Why the State Department didn't revoke his visa immediately is beyond belief, in my judgment.
--Tom Ridge on terror suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab
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The two went through a "rehabilitation" program in Saudi Arabia but returned to the militants. U.S. officials, however, cautioned that the two could not be connected with Friday's attack.

Ridge told King that the country is "clearly ... safer, but it's equally clear, given the several incidents that have occurred in the last couple of months in this country, that we still have very serious gaps in information-sharing."

"What are we going to do to make sure more information, particularly with that kind of information that sends warning signals out, gets to the people that can act on it?" he said. "Whether you're in the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan or a screener at the airport, you need actionable information. I'm not sure all this information was in the hands of TSA at the time."

Ridge also questioned why the State Department did not revoke AbdulMutallab's visa upon learning that his father had reported his son might have terrorist connections.

"Why the State Department didn't revoke his visa immediately is beyond belief, in my judgment," he said. "But at the heart of this, it's a clash of cultures and institutional challenge. [The Department of Homeland Security] can only act on information it has, and they didn't have all the information at its disposal."

The former secretary was less critical of current Secretary Janet Napolitano than many other Republicans for comments she made praising the way some protocols had worked.

"I don't think any right-thinking person actually believed that Secretary Napolitano thought the system worked," he said. "Obviously, it was flawed. I think what she was referring to was that after the incident occurred, there are certain procedures and protocols to put in place. That worked smoothly."

 
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