From NBC's Pete Williams and Chuck Todd
After initially talking freely to FBI interrogators, and then refusing to answer questions, the man accused of the Christmas Day bomb plot has begun talking again, according to officials familiar with the case.
Asked today at a Senate hearing about Umar Abdulmutallab, the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, said the government needs to balance the need for intelligence versus the need for prosecution.
"The balance in Abdulmutallab was understandable. We got good intelligence. We're getting more," he said.
It's an important development, because the administration has been widely criticized for treating Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant and giving him a Miranda warning, instead of declaring him an enemy combatant and subjecting him to questioning by intelligence officers.
Abdulmutallab's renewed cooperation appears to be in preparation for a guilty plea, which would spare him the death penalty.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate today that Abdulmutallab did talk to FBI agents after he was arrested on Christmas Day, speaking freely until he went into surgery for burns on his legs. After the surgery, when the FBI sought to resume the questioning, Abdulmutallab made it clear he would not answer further questions. When agents had satisfied themselves of that, they read him his Miranda rights.