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. Fitz in Texas

    Just like a Democrat.....playing politics when they should be more concerned with keeping us safe.

    February 7, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. al422

    Even though I am a liberal democrat, I am tired of both sides using this grave threat not only to our country but to the whole civilized world to gain political advantage. This is the one area we all agree on: These dangerous thugs need to be stopped. So at least on this one issue, the time has come to put partisanship aside and work together to end this threat to the civilized world once and for all.

    These thugs are not true Moslems but instead marginalized kooks who hijacked the Moslem religion to serve their neo-fascist ends. They are everyone's enemy, including the millions of peaceful Moslems througout the world.

    February 7, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. lannymous

    Katiec, give us valid facts, not obamadrama gobblydeegook.

    February 7, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. TCM

    This article is about as credible as the one yesterday, where "4 out of 10," people aren't impressed with the Tea Party...hmm...that's 60% that ARE behind the tea party movement and support...

    CNN putting a spin on the numbers...60% may not sound like much, however, here's another headline...

    Game Day: 62% Plan To Watch Super Bowl XLIV

    Wow...and everyone I know watches at least some of the Super bowl...so, if Tea Party supporters, and the amount who watch the Super Bowl are roughly the same....that shows that the majority of the country are behind conservatism...Sorry, Barry, your ride was a short one...

    February 7, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  5. TCM

    wow....MSDP...and T'SHAH....two mental giants.....
    February 7th, 2010 11:43 am ET

    MSDP wrote ".....All of you CONSEVATIVES should stop spreading hate and division, or I will have to call all of you PALIN, AKA-DIVISIVE AND IGNORGANT.."

    that's a hoot! What liberal obamasite did you get that from? Or was it printed on the back of the ACORN meal ticket you have in your hand?
    by the way –

    "CONSEVATIVES," is actually spelled "Conservative,"
    "DIVISIVE," is actually spelled "Devisive,"
    "IGNORGANT," is actually spelled "Ignorant,"

    that's why were in this mess; too many uneducated people like you were swooned into voting for a liberal agenda that promised you handouts. The only problem is, liberals didn't count on conservatives not wanting to fund their pathetic promises to the lazies....

    February 7, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. fadeinlight

    Is he so sure the congressmen knew that being in the hands of the FBI meant that the "procedure being followed" included the gifting of Miranda Rights? I mean, I thought that Miranda Rights were something that was given to citizens...not enemy combatants. I would've never assumed that he would be given the rights of a citizen when he wasn't one...regardless of who was picking him up.

    February 7, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Hank from Seattle

    "Democrats are insecure with their ability to secure our nation. "

    Baloney. Al Qaeda has played the right wing like a violin – we run screaming like a little child whenever they raise their head and go, "Boo!" This is just what Bin Laden wrote that he would do – exhaust and bankrupt the West by playing on our pride, fear, and ignorance – so far, we have done just exactly what he wants. As a result of our self-induced hysteria we can't distinguish between minor risks and major threats – we react to everything as if it were an asteroid strike. This is how wolves hunt sheep – they simply frighten them until they run themselves to death.

    February 7, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Death Panel Sarah

    Hey lannymous....
    MSNBC showed your hero, Bush, talking about terrorists ON THE GOLF COURSE!!!!!!

    Shows what you know!!!!

    February 7, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. stokr

    Bottom line: libs can't/won't fight, feel safe? Everything is half measures and excuses. After 9/11 the issue CHANGED and Bush was late to the realization, but Obam is still AWOL.

    February 7, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Proc

    Amazing that Democrats complain about Republicans when they still control the Presidency, House, and Senate. How is it the Republicans fault? Health care didn't pass, not because of the Republicans, but because not enough Dems would vote for it.

    February 7, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. joey

    and the blame game continues. How about taking responsibility for SOMETHING in this administration. "But Bush did it, so its ok if we mess up just as bad."
    Are we starting to wake up people?

    February 7, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. tCM2

    hey tcm, what's "devisive"? how about you get off the high horse and start talking substance rather than using petty attacks against other posters?

    February 7, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. duh ray ray

    Please dont blame it on us rednecks we cant even read our own bilbles.

    February 7, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. psgmichigan

    The Republicans are the "masters" of using fear to capture votes. Remember, anyone was un-American if they opposed anything the Cheney/Bush regime wanted. The x-mas attempted bombing was no different. The terrorist is "singing" like a bird and giving up tons of information; yet, all you hear from Republicans is that Obama is not keeping us safe. Politics have NO part in security. We should all be in this together. Vote against those using politics and/or obstructing.

    February 7, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Michael from Ventura

    they are playing politics with terrorism- but they have been since 2001. They have conveniently forgotten 9/11 happened on their watch.They play politics with all the issues that need solutions. What else is new?

    February 7, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. johnrj08

    Anybody who suggests that the Obama hasn't taken responsibility for anything and that it places all of the blame on the previous administration must be living in a cave with no television reception.

    I like Brennan. He's a smart, dedicated public servant who has no political axe to grind. He has served administrations of both parties faithfully and skillfully. If you've got half a brain, listen to what the man is saying.

    Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are liars who put their political ambitions ahead of what is right for this country. If you're listening to them, you're either ignoring the facts or you're a creature of ideology.

    February 7, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. GGofigure

    Fox news is the symbol of greed that will heard america at the intend. they behaving like the bank executives who did not care much other than themselves and their pocket....you see where they took the country....Fox is doing the same, give me good rating, good money and I don't care where America will end....Stewart said it best to O'reilly...there is a serious propangada going on at fox news....not different from the State radios of Iran, China, North Corea and so on....the principal is just keep the citizens misinformed and we can have them do whatever we want... Really Sad....on the status of the Beacon of Democraty....

    February 7, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Bob (Illinois)

    What? Republicans are playing politics with terrorism and national security?

    That is truly shocking...and 100% accurate.

    February 7, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. Drew

    The Bush Adminstration should be blame until the Republican start acting like leaders instead of kindergarteners. People if the Republicans holds up every nomination until 2012 then how in the devil can we protect our own country from anyone? Republicans get over the fact the President is BLACK and help protect this country. Now for all the stupid black folks that are Republicans how in the devil can you sit by and let the Republicans talk racist about black and don't see yourselves included? You know who are the talkers but why aren't you taking action?

    February 7, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. Phil

    Have all the people in this country forgotten the simple fact that divided we fall? Without compromise and unity we will be relegated to th dustbin of history.

    February 7, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Mike

    It is not about politics, it's about this White House and the demorats having the wrong agenda with terrorists. How can they have the right frame of mind when a terrorists attack is a man made disaster and not an act of war. How asinie is that? Hows Hopey/Changey working for you so far.

    February 7, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Wisco

    Amen. By taking the low road, Republicans appeal to cowardice. The GOP has never called on the American public's courage since 9/11, instead inciting panic and fear for political gain.

    They have nothing to offer but criticism and even that criticism isn't genuine. The party has become the home of political nihilists whose on real goal is getting more Republicans elected.

    February 7, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. TM

    What Republican torture fetishists ignore, and would like the country to forget, is that GWB did THE EXACT SAME THING with the "shoe-bomber". Was Saint George wrong too? Another inconvenient FACT is that AbdulMutallab is currently telling the FBI EVERYTHING he knows, and that that information has already been acted on and is producing results. All done WITHOUT torture. Republicans don't want to keep us safe, they want to keep us afraid, just like Al-Qaeda.

    February 7, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. katiec

    To some facts do not matter. And, some swallow the total hypocrasy of a political party by attacking allother opinions that do not agree with their misguided beliefs.
    But, for the majority of us, we are getting disgusted and tired of the political games, of those who will not acknowledge any responsibility for the diasters created and worse yet, do nothing to help get our country back on it;s feet.
    We are intelligent enough to realize the party of NOthing has been and will always sell the American people out for big business, personal gains and egos. We are aware they do not and never have represented the American people, but previously did not make it so obvious. They have totally lost their way.

    February 7, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. CHIPS

    Can you imaging going to a world leader with notes written in your hand.

    Please run Palin for president and Mitt Romney as vice.

    February 7, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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