But, in fact, the FBI do a great job as far as eliciting information after they’re Mirandizing them, and so they can get information as part of that type of negotiation with them, let them know they can in fact languish forever, or we can in fact have a dialogue about it intelligently.
– John Brennan, describing the way the FBI gets suspects to talk after Mirandizing them
Here’s something you may not know: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the first UndieBomber, is appealing his conviction and sentence.
He’s doing so on several grounds, including that his confession made during public safety questioning while on fentanyl should not have been admissible at trial. But the most interesting issue — and the one that takes up the bulk of his appeal — argues Abdulmutallab was not competent to represent himself. (His appeal, as well as the government response and his reply only recently got unsealed by the Circuit Court.)
As the appeal notes, back in August 2011, after he had been in custody almost 20 months, his standby counsel Anthony Chambers submitted a motion requesting a competency hearing, one the judge rejected.
His standby counsel filed a motion requesting a competency hearing, noting that Abdulmutallab suffered “mental lapses,” engaged in “bizarre behaviors,” and sometimes seemed interested in presenting a defense while at other times he seemed indifferent to his defense. Abdulmutallab also demonstrated indifference toward his defense in front of the district court. The district court denied the motion for a competency examination based largely on Abdulmutallab’s own equivocal and rambling profession of competency. The failure to hold the competency examination cannot be cured after the fact and requires a new trial so that a “concurrent determination” of competency can be made. Abdulmutallab’s guilty plea did not waive the competency issue because a person whose competence is in doubt cannot knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waive a right or plead guilty.
The appeal cites consistent difficulties Abdulmutallab and attorneys tied to his case had with the Milan Correctional Facility, where he was being held in solitary confinement with communication restrictions. At almost every status hearing (save the one where he fired his court appointed lawyers), Abdulmutallab complained about the communication restrictions placed on him at Milan. (“Milan” is pronounced My-lin.)
At a status conference on April 13, 2010, his attorney’s reported that security restrictions at Federal Correctional Institute Milan (“Milan”) had severely limited their ability to meet with him to review discovery and other matters. He was held in solitary confinement under constant 24-hour manned observation.