February 7th, 2010
01:13 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama aide says Republicans playing politics with terrorism

'I'm tiring of politicians using national security issues … as a political football,' Obama aide John Brennan said Sunday.
'I'm tiring of politicians using national security issues … as a political football,' Obama aide John Brennan said Sunday.

Washington (CNN) - Top Republicans in Congress were told the suspect in the failed Christmas airline bombing was in FBI custody hours after his arrest, and none asked if he would be transferred to military custody, President Barack Obama's assistant on homeland security and counter-terrorism said Sunday.

Republican leaders have criticized the Obama administration for charging terrorism suspect Omar Farouk AbdulMutallab in a criminal court and reading him his Miranda rights instead of turning him over to military custody as an enemy combatant.

In a speech last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "Many Americans were troubled by the administration's response to the Christmas Day attack. And they're equally outraged by its decision to treat the Christmas Day bomber as a criminal defendant who deserved a lawyer, instead of a terrorist who could provide us with vital information to help stop new attacks."

However, John Brennan, the Obama assistant interviewed Sunday on the NBC program "Meet the Press," said none of the GOP leaders in Congress he called on Christmas night - including McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner - raised those issues then.

"I'm tiring of politicians using national security issues such as terrorism as a political football," Brennan said, adding: "They're unknowing of the facts and they're making charges and allegations that are not anchored in
reality."

The GOP leaders knew that "FBI custody means there's a process that you follow as far as Mirandizing and presenting him in front of a magistrate," Brennan said. "None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point. They didn't say, "Is he going into military custody? Is he going to be Mirandized?' "

However, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, who is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that Brennan never informed him of plans to Mirandize AbdulMutallab.

"If he had I would have told him the administration was making a mistake," Bond said. "The truth is that the administration did not even consult our intelligence chiefs, as [Director of National Intelligence Dennis] Blair
testified, so it's absurd to try to blame congressional leaders for this dangerous decision that gave terrorists a five-week head start to cover their tracks."

Brennan noted that in the previous Republican administration of President George W. Bush, Democrats also tried to gain political advantage from security issues.

He urged politicians to refrain from politicizing such issues "rather than second-guessing what is happening on the ground."

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, fired back in a statement Sunday, saying "instead of lashing out politically and attempting to deflect blame, Obama and his advisers need to settle on a coherent and rational national security strategy to help secure our homeland."

AbdulMutallab allegedly attempted to detonate explosive material sewn into his underwear aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day.

Brennan said the the type of attack showed the effectiveness of U.S. efforts to deter large-scale attacks since the September 11, 2001, use of hijacked planes to crash into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, he said.

"It showed how difficult it is for al Qaeda to carry out large-scale attacks," Brennan said. Instead, the group now uses individual operatives to try to carry out smaller attacks, he said.

A Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week was told by the nation's intelligence chiefs - Blair, CIA Director Leon Panetta, FBI Director Robert Mueller and others - that another attempted terror attack on the United States was "certain" in the next three to six months.

Brennan said al Qaeda has been a continuous threat to attack the United States for years, and that numerous previous attempts have been prevented.

"It shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that al Qaeda is attempting to carry out an attack," Brennan said.

Updated: 2/8/09 12:42 p.m.


Filed under: GOP • John Brennan • Obama administration • Popular Posts • Terrorism
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    What's new? If President Obama walked on water they would openly laugh and criticize him for not being able to swim.

    We Independents are watching every move the Republicans and Democrats make. 3 states are hardly representative of the entire nation.

    February 7, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    Just like the democrats played politics when they decided that we were losing the war back in 2003..... yeah, right. If any group is a master at "playing politiocs", its the left wing fringe.

    February 7, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Dan

    For six years till end of 2008, one party played a lot of politics with terrorism and USA war against it– guess which party?
    So it is the norm in Washington now.

    If handling terrorists with better ways that will protect Americans is politics so be it!

    February 7, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Seattle Sue

    The Republicans/Tea Bag people are praying for an attack under the Obama watch. They don't care how much damage is done to our country if it will make Obama look bad. They have earned the title of Party of No for a reason. They do nothing to help our county or offer solutions to help solve the problems of our country.

    February 7, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. Willy Brown

    Come on Barry! Quit blaming others and do YOUR JOB!

    February 7, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. Susan

    The Republicans should stop the Obama bashing ... in fact, they should never have begun it in the first place. They aren't harming President Obama ... they are making fools of themselves. The more the republicans bash & critize, the more I believe they want the US to be hit by terrorist again.

    Most citizens of this country don't live and breath terrorism ... we just go about living our lives.

    February 7, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. katiec

    The republicans are going to continue to obstruct, distort, be hypocritical on any issue regardless of facts, truth, benefits, etc.
    The facts are:
    828 terrorists have been tried in civilian court with a 88% conviction rate.
    20 tried in military court with a 15% conviction rate.
    When ranting and raving about terrorists, the republican party needs to look within. Their destructive actions, at this time, are doing more harm to our country than any terrorists. They are a disgrace.

    February 7, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  8. Norman Cador

    He is correct these Repbulcins are sick

    February 7, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. Flipper

    What a crybaby! This is so typical of the Obama "don't criticize us" administration. Instead of defending their atrocious decision to allow the underwear bomber to "lawyer up" & be granted civilian legal rights, they accuse the GOP of "playing politics" b/c they didn't complain fast enough.

    As I do recall, some Dems have complained about this event too....are they "playing politics" as well???

    "Brennan noted that in the previous Republican administration of President George W. Bush, Democrats also tried to gain political advantage from security issues."

    And on military matters as well.

    February 7, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. Debby

    Oh please these same words are utterd by Dems. constantly against Republicans. When there is another 9/11 maybe the Dems. will finally get that there is terroism out there.

    February 7, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Greg, MN

    No they are just telling you what is true and liberals don't want to hear.

    February 7, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. john

    This nation is in danger becouse voters still like to vote Republican back to office.

    February 7, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. T'SAH from Virginia

    They ARE playing politics with TERRORISM!!! How dare they criticize this administration for doing something the LAST administration did more than 5 times and NO ONE complained!!!

    RepubliCAN'Ts are Hypocrites and LIARS and they LIVE off terrorizing the American people!!! My problem is – there are American people who truly BELIEVE IT!!!

    February 7, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Independent

    I'm more afraid of an repub with a bible under hs/her arm than a muslim with a turbin

    February 7, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. Death Panel Sarah

    Keep the politics out and let LAW ENFORCEMENT do their jobs.

    The reptili'con's are trying to circumvent our LAWS!!!

    February 7, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Dubya

    It is just what republicons do. They promote fear, they use terrorism as a political tool, they posture and rant and stir anger, and when you clear all the bluster away they offer a sum total of nothing. Not a single reasonable idea from the entire bunch of them. Theya re all wetting themselves about the stewardess giving a speech yesterday, filled with folksy doo dads you betcha! Hopey changey thingy???? Is she 10? And all the while not offering anything beyond cut taxes for rich people. Oh, that and eliminate social securoity and Medicare. Brilliant.

    So of course republicons are playing political games with national security. It is their stock in trade. But it is importnat to repeat it often and loudly so the rubes hear it again and again. It is hat fox has done for two decades – only with right wing lies - repeat the same message all day long so the gullible think it is true. In this case it is true, but needs repeated so that the gullible are not swayed by the lying liars at fox and on talk radio.

    February 7, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. Total BS

    I couldn't agree with you more sir...Obama needs to keep calling these clowns out.If the GOP doesn't like our country,they can move out of the good old USA. We do not need them here with their hate !!!

    February 7, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. John

    Obama aide says Republicans playing politics with terrorism

    Ya think?

    Its only been going on since the GWB administration started manipulating the national terrorism threat levels to coincide with election results it sought.

    February 7, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. Chuck

    That's right Mr. Brennan, never take responsibiliy for anything your administration does. Just blame it on someone else. But that's Ok, we have leaned to focus on what you do not what you say.

    February 7, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. tim

    Oh, I feel better now that I now both Democrats and Republican's don't have a clue on what to do with terrorists.

    Anyone whose first instinct isn't to turn terrorists over to the military or CIA for tough interogation shouldn't be in charge of anything that has to do with our country.

    February 7, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. lannymous

    Obama, Reid and Pelosi have been CHEERING for the Jihadists for years. There is really nothing else to discuss. We have a leader in the White House who hates this country and is doing whatever he can, with the help of CNN and other party outlets, to cripple us economically and military.

    February 7, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. Cory

    At least Republicans are doing something about terrorism, unlike the current administration.

    And "GI Joe" – Ten states is also not representative of the entire nation, yet that's all the Republicans need in November to control the Senate. So don't act so secure.

    It actually speaks volumes when one of the '3 states' you mention is among the most liberal, and elects a REPUBLICAN to a Senate seat. If that isn't a harbinger, I don't know what is.

    February 7, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  23. Sam

    Ask yourself the question. What has a Republican EVER EVER been right about?

    February 7, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. lannymous

    Mr. Obama will be held personally responsible for any further attacks on us. He has allowed his Jihadists friends to take control of the FBI. For that he should be tried and sent to Federal Prison for high crimes.

    February 7, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. JLM

    It's two groups that wants America to be attacked and it is al qaeda and the Republicans.

    February 7, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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