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. bien

    The Barack Hussein Obama's administration is naive in dealing with the terrorist who intent to damage this country. Barack Hussein Obama had no real experienced in dealing with terrorism and to be the commander-in-chief of this country. Barack Hussein Obama is good to be a debater and professor rather than to be the leader and be president. Barack Hussein Obama is full of promises and hate for the past administration but accomplish NOTHING!!!

    February 7, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Margo

    I wonder who and how many and to what extent members of the Rethuglican apparatus are actively promoting and supporting another act of terrorism on the people of the USA.

    February 7, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Ken

    You people have got to be kidding. If you don't believe it is politics, you can claim blind on your tax return. Did Bush have the shoe bomber taken to a military prison? No! He was read his maranda rights and tried in civilian court and is now in jail. Same thing. One carries a weapon in his shorts the other in his shoes.

    February 7, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Dee

    I think it is time for the Republicans in the Senate and those idiots on talk radio to stop bashing the Presidency. If Sarah Palin is there top nominee the Republican Party is in trouble. I listened to her last night and thought she was giving a campaign speech. This country would be in so much trouble if she became the President. The Tea Party talks about economy but yet charged over $500 to come to the Convenvtion and, Paid Carabu Barbie $100,000 for a 1 hour appearance. She should stop letting Sean Hannity write her speeches for her. She says everything that he says. Just listen to him and then, listen to her. I am so tired of her. She can't even speek well. All she did was keep her head down and read from her sheets. We should have listened to all the signs that were being given prior to
    9/11 and maybe this could have been prevented. Think everyone has to get all the facts before they open up there mouths.

    February 7, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Right Leaning Independent

    Dems played politics for 8 years with Bush. They taught the Repubs how to act toward the sitting President. Deal with it!

    February 7, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Minnesota gal

    Republicans do not care for the citizens of this country one iota. All they care about is trying to trash and obstruct this administration. They think by doing so they can get back in power to again rape and pillage our great country.

    If they were interested in getting us back on our feet, as they should be, they would be helping instead of hindering. One kind of absolute piece of crap would put a hold on appointees including security people, just because he can. A REPUBLICAN CRAPOLA THAT'S WHO. And of course we have to add that the media is low down on the list else they would let the people in this country know just what the republicans are doing and trying to do.

    February 7, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. mike

    Unfortunately, the average American is easily fooled by simplicity of
    the Republican mantra. Spread fear and doubt and say no to
    taxes. Simple, yet effictive!

    February 7, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Ancient Texan

    Did Libs bash Bush constantly? But now only Libs have Freedom of Speech? The Nation knows Obama is weak on National Security and terrorism, and so do the terrorist........katiec-interesting set of "facts". I've seem gross exaggeration on the numbers of terrorists tried, but never to that extent.

    February 7, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Ella

    I couldn't agree more with security aide Mr Bernian.Scott Brown should not speak of things he knows nothing about,because what he said about Obama and terror was incorrect.

    February 7, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. ObamasRecordDefict

    That's OK, I'm tired of OBOZO every time he opens his elistist mouth.

    February 7, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Yogo

    I guess I will be first to say, this has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. When 0911 occured everyone was quick to blame everything on the Bush administration. The United States during the Reagan Administration provided the mass majority of the weapons and knowledge that is used by terrorist today. The current low blow given by the Republican Party is an all time low blow during an election year to control the sway of the votes. I will say, that it would not matter if it was Democrat or Republican, I would say the same. There are many reason why the terrorist are being taken to American Court. Military Tribunals are used for those that carry out acts of terrorism agains the military or government, the Bush administration opened the door to military tribunals to these individuals, which many of them had VISA's at the time of their offense which protects them as though they were a natural born citizen. I know that what I have to say will tick some folks off, but I think that people need to get over their racism and anger at the current administration and think logically. There are things that go into these decisions that we as american people do not know about. If you do not as an American exercise your Freedom to gather Information, you are just as bad as the writers of these stories that do not include all the details, they only tell one side of the story or give the "meat" of the story.

    February 7, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. seanm

    He's right. Republicans have been playing politics with national security for years, to great electoral success. They're smarmy and will basically do anything to get elected. Look at Sen. Shelby (AL-R). He put a hold on DOD officials (meaning positions are going unfilled) because he was unhappy that Obama wouldn't give him billions of dollars in earmarks. Pathetic!

    February 7, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. lannymous

    bob – President Bush gave up golf after 9/11 because he thought it was inappropriate to be playing while a war was in progress. The God King Obama couldn't pry himself away for his golf in Havaiii for five days after the jockstrap bomber did his thing. Mr. Obama is totally out of touch with reality. Delusional. Dangerous.

    February 7, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. bb

    For people to believe the Republicans are the strengt for Terrorism has always made me laugh! The United States was attacked under them, the Republicans, Bush................what? are people really that stupid?
    Why isn't anyone or the Media talking non-stop day after day about the Terror bombing attack on the Recruiting Station in New York Times Square in 2008???

    February 7, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Hubert Murias

    @ Dubya, excellent comment. Sums it up.

    February 7, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. lannymous

    Ella – shame on you. Brenian is a political hack employed by the Jidaist in Chief. Senatro Brown is a patriot.

    February 7, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. steve an independent in maryland

    As a registered independent for over 30 years I find Mr's Brennans statements offensive as he must think we are stupid. Most importantly what he failed to say is that his administration first falsely stated the suspect was questioned for nearly 50 years and then after days it came out it was only 1 hour. AND IN THAT ONE HOUR, THE BOMBER TOLD THE FBI THAT HE WAS TRAINED IN YEMEM AND MORE WERE COMING. IF HOLDER TOLD HIM TO MARANDIZE THAT PERSON AND GIVE HIS A LAWYER THEN HE SHOULD BE FIRED, AND IF OBAMA MADE THAT CALL THEN HE SHOULD NEVER BE REELECTED. Brennan does not say if the foregoing was told to the 2 republican leaders, and I seriously doubt it because it took days for that to finally come out and that was only by an investigation not something that Obama voluntarily released– and once they were Mirandized there is nothing they could have done. But if those Reblican leaders were told the specifics and asked if they think that something else should have been done and they said that they had no problem with it then they should not be re-elected either.

    February 7, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. TCM

    yeah...after all, it's the republicans who appointed Holder, who is assigning rights to terrorists...and in addition, it's also the republicans who want to close GITMO, and then move the terrorists into the states where they can have better accommodations, and assimilate other thugs behind bars...what idiotic statements by Brennan..but, what else can we expect from the liberal administration?

    February 7, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Amber

    The WH is supposed to protect its citizens and they are failing miserably. You cannot blame homeland security on the party not in control of the strings. This administration is completely inept, in denial, and in some ways in cahootz with al Queda. These prosecutions should absolutely take place in military tribunals! Who is the WH trying to protect? Us or them? You must ask yourself this question. As soon as the panty bomber was miranda-ized, he clammed up. What did they possibly expect? Even though he's young, he knew what to do. When the attack on this soil comes Obama will be made into a bigger fool than he already is if he even attempts to blame it on Bush. I do not feel safe these days. At least I hope my location is not as much of a target as others. That's what it will take to wake Americans up from the nightmare that is Obama and our deliberate path leading to communism. Thanks, all you libs out there in this country who elected a communist to the American White House! You don't even have any idea how ashamed you should be because you continue to slurp the cult provided kool-aid and go about your days as though nothing has changed. Everything has changed!!!!

    February 7, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. MsDp

    All of you CONSEVATIVES should stop spreading hate and division, or I will have to call all of you PALIN, AKA-DIVISIVE AND IGNORGANT. Stop being led by ignorance and backward thinking. All of you know the head person in charge of all the congressional parties are informed about every event, regardless of what it is. I am so tired of the lies from the conservative right wing and the liars in the GOP. If you want to really know what's going on with your senators and representatives, watch CSPAN instead of FOX NEWS (AKA FALSE NEWS) then you can make sound profound decisions and THINK FOR YOURSELF!!!

    February 7, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. katiec

    I cannot name any of the terrorists tried. All I can do is quote a statistic reported in the NYT's.
    What is of importance is the sham the republicans are making of our political system. They are not representing the people or our country.
    When a party has goals to destroy our president, win at any cost, party first, that is not an acceptable or credible political party.. It is a very dangerous party and has brought havoc and harm to our country.
    They are well on their way to becoming our countries most dangerous domestic terrorists.

    February 7, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. green

    The GOP will be the end of this great nation. These folks are lunatics, they would trade your life for a political seat ! If the GOP had another chance they would invade your soul and declare victory !

    February 7, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. T'SAH from Virginia

    PALIN: "America is ready for another Revolution!!"

    Lead by WHO? Thought???

    All of a sudden the commentaries, who are TEA-PARTY FANS, on MSNBC and CNN are saying, it's OKAY that Palin was answering questions off her hands – PRE-selected questions at that – it shows she's a normal person????????????? OMG – normal???

    February 7, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. lannymous

    Good grief TCM, the Republicans appointed Holder ? Is Obama a Republican ? I am soooo confused.

    February 7, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. lannymous

    The fact katiec quotes the NYT invalidates any and all of her arguments.

    February 7, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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