Faisal Shahzad Gets a Lawyer

Faisal Shahzad rather suddenly got arraigned and got a lawyer yesterday. Josh Gerstein noted that the arraignment happened on the 15th day since Shahzad’s arrest–the lower range of time the Obama Administration has floated for its changes to Miranda. But the LAT reports that Shahzad decided he no longer wanted to be questioned by interrogators.

Shahzad did not enter a plea. But he spoke briefly during the 10-minute appearance with his attorney, public defender Julia Gatto, in the courtroom. He reportedly asked earlier in the day for an attorney and said he no longer wished to speak with interrogators, a decision that prompted the court arraignment.

There’s no reporting on it, but I do wonder whether this docket item is related:

ORDER FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION FORM as to Faisal Shahzad. (Signed by Magistrate Judge James C. Francis on 5/18/2010)(gq).

(Shahzad’s lawyer didn’t mention medical attention in the court appearance, as far as I can tell, though she did request that he start receiving Halal food.)

In a separate story, the LAT reported that Pakistan has arrested an Army major in connection with Shahzad’s attack.

Investigators have arrested a Pakistani army major linked to the prime suspect in the botched attempt to bomb New York City’s Times Square early this month, Pakistani law enforcement sources said Tuesday.

The major’s involvement with suspect Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, remains unclear. Law enforcement sources said the major had met Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, in Islamabad, the capital, and was in cellphone contact with him.

The LAT doesn’t say when the arrest happened, but it coincides with a sudden visit by Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor to Pakistan.

Obama’s National Security Advisor Jim Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta have arrived in Pakistan, and unusually, given security concerns, the White House is ackowledging their travel while they are on the ground.

“In light of the failed Times Square terrorist attack and other terrorist attacks that trace to the border region, we believe that it is time to redouble our efforts with our allies in Pakistan to close this safe haven and create an environment where we and the Pakistani people can lead safe and productive lives,” National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer, accompanying them, explained the trip.


Jones’ trip seemed to come about at short notice. He had been due to speak tonight at a conference in Washington, but the group announced yesterday that it had been informed he had to travel.

Also yesterday, the John Brennan stated that the High Value Interrogation Group (HIG) had been involved in Shahzad’s interrogation, which may be a response to Mark Hosenball’s reporting that the HIG had only a limited role in Shahzad’s interrogation. The LAT provides more details on the Administration’s description of the HIG’s role (which doesn’t, ultimately, explain precisely how HIG was involved):

The new unit that has been assisting in Shahzad’s questioning is known as the High-Value Interrogation Group, or HIG. It was activated several months ago and is staffed mainly by personnel from the FBI, CIA and Defense Department, according to senior administration officials who on Tuesday provided the fullest description of the unit’s procedures to date. They were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.


Because of concerns about CIA personnel being involved in domestic law enforcement, its personnel assigned to the HIG only advise FBI and other agencies when suspects are being held on U.S. soil, a senior official said.

But if a detainee is being held by a foreign government, the CIA “may participate in the questioning,” the official said.

One suggestion. Last weeks stories said that HIG wasn’t involved–in Pakistan–because the country had not invited it to be involved. Given the arrests there, perhaps that’s one purpose of Panetta and Jones’ visit today?

23 replies
  1. Leen says:


    New interrogation unit aids in questioning Times Square bomb suspect
    “In all, he was told, he faces a maximum punishment of two life sentences plus 60 years.”

    And what kind of sentence does Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Ledeen, Feith’s etc get for starting a war based on a pack of lies that has resulted in hundreds of thousands dead, injured and millions displaced? How much prison time? How many life sentences? 0

    And Obama for killing innocents via drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

    What a fucked up so called justice system

    • emptywheel says:

      So bmaz and I were talking about how the “no arraignment” meant “no lawyer” the other day. And I said, “of course that means no one has been monitoring his treatment, they could well have been subjecting him to sleep deprivation.”

      To which defense attorney bmaz said, “you ever been in a jail? No one sane sleeps.”

      • bmaz says:

        In the big city and county detention/holding centers, the noise is absolutely maddening.

        On another note, this is interesting. From the NYT:

        Britain’s new deputy prime minister pledged Wednesday to lead a sweeping drive to protect civil liberties, curbing official surveillance and data collection by scrapping an unpopular national identity card program, limiting the retention of DNA profiles and regulating the spread of closed-circuit TV cameras.

        Nick Clegg said the coalition government was rolling back government monitoring after years of complaints from rights groups that personal freedoms have been sacrificed in the name of national security.

        ”This government will end the culture of spying on its citizens,” Clegg said during a speech in north London. ”It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop.”

          • bmaz says:

            More likely that the Obama Administration will immediately bigfoot Clegg and the Brits. It is who we are and what we do.

            • BoxTurtle says:

              Basic message from ObamaLLP to Clegg: You can have all the privacy you want as long as the deals we already have are honored.

              Otherwise, we simply turn enough intelligence equiptment on you to get what we want ourselves. Along with a bunch of other stuff that might be embarassing to you. If you get my drift.

              Boxturtle (Obama’s a Chicago politician. He knows how to drift)

              • skdadl says:

                Nice little kingdom you got there. Shame if anything happened to it …

                Actually, I agree with eoh @ 9: blanket surveillance made Blair positively pant (I’m being polite), every bit as much as it did Bush and Cheney, as also did keeping up with and pleasing Bush and Cheney. MI6 participating in torture interrogations overseas? I’m sure he thought that was cool too. Omg but I hope a judicial inquiry gets that man one day.

                • fatster says:

                  Tony the Peepin’ Poodle.

                  Amazing that they want the populace under surveillance 24/7 but they have State Secrets and other excuses to cover themselves.

            • phred says:

              They’ll certainly try, but I wouldn’t count on them succeeding. Look where lapdog behavior got Brown…

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Given the draconian laws “new” Labour implemented, it would take little to pull back from the edge. If Clegg really means this, it would be a significant reversal of a downward slide toward a national security state.

        • bobschacht says:

          This suggests a point that I made previously: Our defense against these abuses of civil liberties may ultimately come from Libertarians, or a new generation of Republicans, not Democrats, who seem wedded to the Bush Doctrine re: civil liberties.

          Bob in AZ

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    (Shahzad’s lawyer didn’t mention medical attention in the court appearance, as far as I can tell, though she did request that he start receiving Halal food.)

    Start receiving Halal food? You mean to tell me the guy was cooperating and we weren’t giving him halal food. Now, personally, I think of honoring people’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) as a fundamental right and should always be done, but even if you don’t believe that, surely someone in authority in this case should have realized that showing that sort of respect would make it infinitely easier for Shahzad to cooperate. Sheesh…

    • kgb999 says:

      Another possibility is that they *had* been giving him Halal food and then took it away as a pressure tactic. They did stuff like that in Gitmo … HIG is pretty much the same outfit. I’ll go ahead and guess is they storm-troopered in (as they appear wont to do), and screwed up a productive intelligence relationship trying to “get more” by abusing him a bit (as they also are wont to do).

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    I’m just pleased that he actually got a lawyer while he still had his sanity and his fingernails.

    And we will likely have his case disposed of in a real court before any more show trials even happen.

    Boxturtle (See what admissable evidence does for you, Sen Graham?)

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      They got all the confessions and intel out of him they wanted. This was no serious terrorist threat, given the man’s inability to fashion a real destructive device. If he were instructed by Pakistani intelligence, or other terrorist center, then you’d think they’d have at least told him what kind of fertilizer to buy. Either he was run by complete amateurs, or he was kind of a freak freelancer who tried to tie himself to the Pakistanis or Al Qaeda, or he is indeed something else entirely… a cat’s paw for the ISI, the CIA/DIA/DCHC, or Al Qaeda. It’s likely even he didn’t know exactly who he was really working for, and neither do we.

      • timbo says:

        Any chance he was actually working for us? Seriously, I wonder about that half the time I see this stuff go down; so many failed terrorist plots, so little time…

  4. fatster says:

    O/T BushCo DOJ lawyer heads for the unemployment line.

    Justice Department Lawyer [Chris Herren] Behind New Black Panther Case Resigns


  5. sailmaker says:

    Josh Gerstein noted that the arraignment happened on the 15th day since Shahzad’s arrest–the lower range of time the Obama Administration has floated for its changes to Miranda.

    Miranda. I wonder when they will get to the Sixth Amendment – habeas corpus.

    Sometimes I think the game is a war between administrations a race to see which one can defang, declaw, and otherwise despoil the Constitution. So far Bushco is winning – although 2 years into the Bush2 admin we did not know it.

  6. RevBev says:

    Really….when was the Patriot Act? I thought that “winning” was fairly apparent sometime during the election struggle….like when the Court stopped the vote count…the world changed.

  7. ondelette says:

    So, Aafia Siddiqui ended up in U.S. custody (military/FBI) on July 18, and was read her Miranda rights when she got to the U.S. on August 3rd, the day before her arraignment in federal court. I had always thought the delay was due to the circumstances of her rendition, and the belief that she didn’t need to be “Mirandized” until she was on U.S. soil. Now I’m beginning to wonder if the rights show up when the interrogation is done. At any rate, they had no trouble convicting her even on conflicting testimony with no forensic evidence, so there won’t be any problem with Faisal Shahzad. And he doesn’t have any pesky missing children or a Pakistani Senate to worry about.

  8. Sara says:

    I would suggest that the case against Faisal Shahzad could be “made” based on the circumstantial evidence collected at the scene, in his apartment, and by tracking his purchase of the Pathfinder and explosives, etc. What they really wanted was the Intelligence that might take them beyond this case, and I would guess that he generated plenty of leads to cases totally unconnected with Shahzad. In particular, getting the Pakistani Hawala operators and their computers probably was rich.

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