DETROIT — On Christmas day in 2009, Andrew Arena, head of the Detroit FBI, made a beeline to the airport to deal with a young Nigerian man — aka The Underwear Bomber — who tried to blow up an airliner.
“He slipped up and gave us some stuff,” Arena explained of the valuable global terrorism information the bomber gave up during the interrogation. ” I can’t get into because it’s still classified. We exploited a lot… We got some key stuff.”
Arena was directly involved in the decisions about the interrogating the bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — including when to read him the Miranda warning, an issue that would later become a “political football” in Washington.
Some conservative Republicans like Michele Bachman were highly critical, insisting the FBI shouldn’t have read the Miranda warning to a terrorist because it may have stifled the flow of valuable information. Many Democrats defended the FBI and Justice Department, which delayed reading the rights, but ultimately did after six hours. The Obama administration claimed it got plenty of valuable information about the plot and terrorism around the world.
“People used the national security issue for political purposes,” he said of the partisan bickering in Washington. “Yeah, that did bother me.”
In his FBI office on Michigan Avenue in downtown Detroit, Arena, a personable man who speaks fondly of his native Detroit, sat down earlier this month with Deadline Detroit reporter Allan Lengel to discuss his 24-year-career in the FBI, including the last five as head of the Detroit office.
He’s set to retire at the end of the week, on May 31, and take over as director of the newly formed Detroit Crime Commission. The commission, he says, will try unearthing corruption and other crime and try to fill some gaps law enforcement hasn’t been able to address.
To read the full interview click here.
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