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
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.