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

Obama aide says Republicans playing politics with terrorism

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/07/art.brennan0207.gi.jpg caption="'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

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. vic

    whats new!!!????? GOP uses terror as their own tool and they have no other game

    February 7, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Mboma

    I watched Mr. Brenan on Meet the Press this morning. There is no need to spin it either way. What the guy is saying is to unite, be patriotic and fight a common enemy. Why its hard to understand that beats me. Its either you love this country or you don't whether you are a democrazy or repugnican. We are past the days of the freedom fries.

    February 7, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    It is all about the fear deal. Terrorism is the new communism designed to instill fear and justify why we fight and die for a lie. We need the fair deal in the U. S. But, I think that Obama is starting to like that he is a war president. It protects him a little but not as much as it did Bush. We need to end these wars bring the troops and billions home for our own homeland defense. We are playing right into Osama's strategy and are bogged down with hundreds of thousands of troops and billions of dollars while Al Quaida outflanks us and plans to strike at home, but while he waiting to strike here he can kill Americans in Afghanistan like he did in Iraq.

    February 7, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Angie in PA

    Of course they are they play Politicts with everything from fixing our economy to fixing our healthcare like I have said


    At least the Democrats are addresing the Problems the Jobs our Healthcare National Security while the Republicans sit back and play political games the GOP Has become PATHETIC!

    February 7, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. kk

    Palin says we are ready for another revolution. Does that mean she will start it with a pretty face and then the "first Dude" will take over from there? They are a scary duo.

    February 7, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Carmelle

    This was a just a bad week-end for repubs, tea baggers and Sarah Palin.


    February 7, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  7. D. Bunker

    The GOP, aka The Torture Party, isn't just cowardly, they ARE fear-mongering cowards. Our Constitutional legal system works, but they apparently would sacrifice it because they are unable to deal with their own fear. As a wise old founding father once said, those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

    February 7, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Brian from NJ

    No criticism of Obama will ever approach the way the Democrats and liberal media treated Bush for political gain. Calling the Commander in Chief a liar and proclaiming to the world that the war was illegal (even though it wasn't, read the UN resolutions) while we had troops on the ground was the most despicable act of partisan politics in history. First they voted to support the war, but when the heat was on them politically, they switched sides and trashed him... the worst of them being head hypocrite Jay Rockefeller followed closely by Pelosi... jerks!

    February 7, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Jae

    Sam –
    Unfortunately, you are using facts and logic, which means they will not understand your point. They are strategy-bound not to do so. The GOP/conservatives/Tea Baggers long ago stopped dealing in facts. Heck, when the President offered support to create a congressional commission to battle the national deficit - seven GOPers walked away from THEIR OWN bill rather than be seen as supporting his efforts. And, the loudest Tea Bagger - Sarah Palin - is telling her followers that the President needs to stop "lecturing us." Holy S#@! If you think logic and facts will penetrate that haze... more power to you my friend.

    February 7, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Sandy SC

    If the Republicans will get off their feet and stop putting a hold on everything, then this country would be free of terrorist, but if they don't then they should feel the pain if we are attacked again. Sorry for the Republicans even the females who let the men talk them in to playing dirty politics. Now the big Q is what is dizzy Palin doing to get the Republican bid for President. If she do God help this country. We will need it more than every.

    February 7, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Jim Kowas

    Obama was so concerned about the Christmas bomber that he stayed in Hawaii for 8 more days enjoying his slushies. HIs connect the dots chief was granted a 6 day ski vacation by Obama the afternoon of the bombing attempt. No wonder Brennan said they couldn't connect the dots.

    February 7, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. Pat Ukaleley

    The comments from most posters here shows that the future decline of the USA is not in the hands of any terrorist group but in the sheer ignorance of the American Citizen. I am appalled at how much ignorance is out there – smarten up people – get the facts – then perhaps this country might be saved. Otherwise, look forward to going from number one in the world to getting beaten by pretty much everyone.

    February 7, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. Robert

    It is so tiresome to see this political game the Republicans are choosing to play.. There is nothing unprecedented in this guy being turned over to the FBI.

    McConnel and Boner annoy the heck out of me. The conservative philosophy has some legitimate points (some). But with McConnel, Boner, Palin, Bachman, Limbaugh, Beck and Gingrich as the spokesmen for this movement, I won't embrace or vote for Republicans. They are the most vicious, conniving, brazenly partisan people in this country today.

    February 7, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. John

    To stokr:
    Obama is AWOL?
    So having killed more Al qaeda and taliban leaders in his first year of office than since 9/11 through drone attacks is AWOL?

    Having more than doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan AND Pakistan (special forces trainers) with a defined strategy (not only tactics) is AWOL?

    Having recognized and acted upon the latest front against al qaeda (i.e. Yemen) pro actively and intelligently is AWOL?

    Having obtained actionable intelligence from a FAILED terrorist while respecting the values for which this country stands for is AWOL?

    I guess you have to explain to me what AWOL means. I'm leaving in a few months for my second tour (this time in afghanistan) and since 9/11 I have never been this proud to serve my country with this commander in chief.
    Now you can armchair criticize and politicize as much as you want. I'll try not to get myself shot at while serving my country.

    February 7, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Jim Kowas

    The only reason that plane didn't blow up and kill 200 people was some brave passenger stopped him by force. This guy's father told us he was a terrorist and Obama's people didn't listen! Your DHS failed!
    Obama is more worried about the Supreme Court and Fox not bowing in adulation.

    February 7, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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