Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday he made the decision to charge the Christmas Day terror suspect in the civilian system with no objection from all the other relevant departments of the government.
In a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, the attorney general wrote that the FBI told its partners in the intelligence community on Christmas Day and again the next day that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would be charged criminally.
Holder's letter was the latest volley in a vigorous counterattack by the Obama administration to Republican charges that the arrest and FBI interrogation of the Detroit suspect was a mistake that cost a chance to learn key information.
The letter followed less than 24 hours after senior administration officials disclosed that the suspect had resumed talking to U.S. interrogators last week after breaking off his discussions the day of his arrest.
Holder said that the possibility of detaining Abdulmutallab in the U.S. military system under the law of war was explicitly discussed in the days following the arrest, including at a Jan. 5 meeting that included President Barack Obama and senior members of the national security team.
"No agency supported the use of law of war detention for Abdulmutallab, and no agency has since advised the Department of Justice that an alternative course of action should have been, or should now be, pursued," the attorney general wrote.