NYT Wants Underwear Bomber’s FBI Interviews

     MANHATTAN (CN) – The FBI must disclose its interviews with so-called “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the New York Times and reporter Scott Shane have told a federal judge.
     Nigerian-born Abdulmutallab was aboard a commercial plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 when he tried to ignite a bomb sewn into his drawers but wound up merely burning himself.
     Some of the 287 passengers managed to restrain him and staunch the fire as it spread to the plane’s carpeting, seats and walls, so Abdulmutallab remained the only injury from the attack.
     Abdulmutallab eventually went to trial on eight terrorism charges but pleaded guilty just two days into proceedings.
     The Sixth Circuit affirmed his life sentence last year but Abdulmutallab’s comments to the FBI have had much broader ripples beyond his trial.
     Abdulmutallab’s admission that the New Mexico-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki had trained him to carry out the attack soon shaped government justifications for targeting U.S. citizens in drone strikes.
     A legal white paper released by Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Council reveals the government’s belief that feds can kill “an operational leader” in terrorist attacks to prevent “imminent” threats.
     The September 2011 drone strike that killed al-Awlaki and another U.S. citizen in Yemen fell one month before Abdulmutallab’s guilty plea.
     In a Times article titled “In New Era of Terrorism, Voice From Yemen Echoes” earlier this year, reporter Shane highlighted al-Awlaki’s ties to Abdulmutallab and other militants he allegedly inspired.
     Shane says he filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the FBI’s records on Abdulmutallab on June 29, 2014.
     Appeals over the agency’s rejection of the request have allegedly stretched through March.
     Claiming that the exemption related to law-enforcement materials does not cover the records in question, the Times and Shane sued for the release of the Abdulmutallab interviews on June 22.
     They are represented by in-house counsel Jeremy Kutner and David McCraw.

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