In a TV appearance last Monday night, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge stated that the alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab may not be eligible for certain protections afforded by the U.S. constitution to its citizens.
Speaking on CNN’s Larry King Live, Ridge stated that in his estimation Abdulmutallab’s status as a foreigner and a would-be terrorist may limits his constitutional rights.
"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 U.S," the former official affirmed.
However, not everyone shares this view. Cynthia Tucker, a columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, stressed the danger of alienating moderate Muslims by adopting this type of approach.
"Affording the protections of our Bill of Rights to suspects such as Abdulmutallab [shows that we] believe in human rights and the rule of law," she wrote in a blog on the newspaper’s website.
"Keeping moderate Muslims on our side is a much better way of fighting terrorism than trying to kill every terrorist," she added.
On Christmas Day, the 23-year-old Nigerian man was able to board a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with an explosive device sown into his underwear. This happened despite the fact that his family had alerted the U.S. authorities to his possible radicalization and despite being on a terrorist watch list.
Responsibility for the failed attack was claimed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group White House officials say includes two former Guantanamo Bay detainees.