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. Bob

    NOW they figured this out? I think that savvy voters have known this for years. Republicans have been playing politics on terrorism and fear since the Reagan days. Republican politic are solely based on fear - they have little else to contribute. How sad is it to live in a world of fear ...

    February 7, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Ken

    I am absolutely speachless that the libs are accusing the GOP of playing politics with national security, when they dont know national defense, from man-to-man defense.

    February 7, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. KR

    At least the GOP had the balls to face terrorism head-on, unlike the coward placed in the WH who for 8 years ignored it while he screwed interns. We may not even be in thge mess we are in today if he had had the courage to deal with the attacks during his tenure (7 out of 8 years we were attacked and Slick Wiullie did NOTHING). Independents ARE watching, and unlike "GI Joe", Independents all across the nation are fed up with the "bigger government" and massive debt that the Democrats feel is best fore thhe Nation. CHANGE will happen in November!

    February 7, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. AmpleMan

    What a spin and denial from the Obama administration! They deflect the concerns from the public about how they manage terrorists, and dump it back on the players who are not in power. Had this underwear bomber succeeded, they would still have said the Republicans did not not call "and ask the right questions to prevent the attack". They are miserably incompetent, and the enemies know it. That "small attack" attempt would have killed hundreds of people and splintered our country's confidence if it had succeeded, and this administration was lounging in Hawaii! What questions didn't they ask before they took off for the holidays?

    February 7, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. Big John

    @Dubya, Independent, and katiec you're all correct, very well said.

    February 7, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. RM

    Democrats are insecure with their ability to secure our nation. They won't call terrorism what it is, they don't have the guts to take it on. In short they are weaklings and most Americans realize this. Don't you know that the terrorists know this as well. That's just one of the reasons we need to toss these libs out of office in November.

    February 7, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Mcloose

    The GOP Party is a party of hatered and racism.

    February 7, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. valwayne

    Playing politics with Terrorism? From the Obama administration? The administration that let the underwear bomber sit silent for a month without being interrogated, and the because of the political heat about the insanity, flew his relatives to the U.S. first class to get him to talk, and then leaked it to the press? Spending billions on circus trials for murdering terorrists, reading murdering enemy combatants their Miranda rights, all of this insanity has to end. Obama needs to fire Eric Holder and start protecting our nation. NOW!!!!

    February 7, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. Sue

    Obama, Holder, and Napolitano.......are more concerned about the rights of terrorists........than the rights of US citizens to be safe/secure.

    The terrorists are thrilled that Obama was elected.

    February 7, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. lannymous

    So katiec – give us a half dozen or so names of those 800+ terrorists tried and conficted in civilian court.

    February 7, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. Michael in NC

    Typical Party of No response, do as I say, not as I do. What kind of values do we have as a country if we say one criminal can have a lawyer and fair trial, whereas this criminal can't? Does anyone seriously believe this person is going to get out of this crime just because he has a lawyer? I guess if the jury were all republicans then maybe......

    I agree with GI Joe:
    We Independents are watching all of this, both sides of the isle, with eyes wide open, and every day there are more and more of us. Keep up with the obstructionism and distortion of facts and you will wind up going the way of the whigs...

    Great stats katiec...very interesting!

    February 7, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. annie against biased news

    The only one causing problems with terrorism is the terrorist loving so-called president obama. Looks to me like he would spit on his mother's grave to save a terrorrist.

    February 7, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. lannymous

    GI Joe – if the three states had gone the other way you would be in full blown orgasm over the glorious victory of the Progressive dictatorship. Itsover GI Joe, and your side has lost. Mr. Obama is a more than just a lame duck. He is now totally without a reason to remain in office.

    February 7, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. Richard

    Republicans do the wrong thing, Democrats do the thing wrong...

    THAT says it all


    February 7, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. nfontaine@stny.rr.com

    What do you tink the phrase "Divide and Conquer" comes from. As long as the people remain in fear and turmoil, they can be easily manipulated. You want to make sure they stay fearful of the boogeyman. AH used this method to perfection in the 1930's & 1940's to gain & maintain power for about 10 years. Would have been longer, if not for losing the war. Winning the war would have been bad for him in the long run, too. They need the war. So that's why GWB didn't want to catch OBL. He needed OBL to keep the fear indexes high and the people pliable. And that's why the GOP needs the terrorists now.

    February 7, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |

    I was just wondering how long does a republican have to study to become so stupid? they are so good at it it must be a requirment to be a republican. do they even think ? the sane people of this country know what they are doing by playing politics with national security and by the way a reminder to all of you blaming the democrats, bush and co. were warned time and time again about the plot to use airplanes to attact america and it was ignored. because bush had already planed to invade iraq when he was elected. the republicans let 9-11 happen and probably aided in it happening.

    February 7, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Mike W

    The president is doing a fine job against Terrorists. Anyone who says otherwise is either just playing politics or has an over the top hatred for a president that they didnt vote for. I am sorry you lost but your nominee John McCain was not up to the task and the previous republican administration screwed everything up so bad that the American people could not put GWB2 back in office.

    Face facts, Richard Reed the shoe bomber did the same thing as this underwear bandit did and he was tried perfectly in in our courts under Bush. FACT, he had rights.

    Just because conspiracy theorists who organise into a party of 'Obama Haters' or Fox "News" (I mean hyperpartisan opinion and republican mouthpiece) tells you its the truth does not mean it is the truth.

    Sometimes you just have to stand back and look at the world around you and decide for yourself what the truth is, and Hannity/O'reilly don't peddle truth.

    February 7, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. bob

    I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive. - G.W. Bush, on the golf course. Go watch Fahrenheit 9/11 and tell me who was playing politics with terrorism... Bush was on vacation longer during his terms than Obama has been in office so far.

    February 7, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  19. Scott, Tucson

    Here's an easy solution to the pantie bomber 'Omar Farouk AbdulMutallab' we currently have forces in Afghanistan preparing to raid a town and conduct high level assassinations of Taliban leaders, lets drop Omar smack in the middle of the village square and put him down along with the Taliban leaders...end of problem and we save several hundred millions dollars too.

    February 7, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Concerned Citizen

    This isn't news. The right has been behaving like whiny children trying to get their way. Like said children they should be completely ignored. If they don't like it they can learn to deal with it or leave. NO ONE cares which!

    February 7, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. Death Panel Sarah

    HEY ....lannymous....
    You sound like a tea-bagger!!!!

    Where do you want to be tea-bagged???

    February 7, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. stokr

    Forget politics, is it a war or not?
    Yes, then the military must handle it.
    No, then you live pre-9/11, and no self-righteous bloviating can help you.

    February 7, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  23. CT

    Ianymous, it's time to get back on your meds. You're paranoia is flaring up again.

    February 7, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Death Panel Sarah

    Cory....the dems are doing EXACTLY the same things the 'con's did about terrorism!!

    The SAME programs are in place to deal with terrorists!!

    Get your head out of FAUX NEW'S @ss!!!!

    February 7, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. phoenix86

    Another proof of Obama's ignorance. There must not have been a teleprompter in the room when he was speaking.

    February 7, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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