February 7th, 2010
01:13 PM ET
12 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. Mike in MN

    Obama is a joke and a year plus into his term he is still campaigning.
    It is clear that he is trying to get voters to once again hate Republicans and to forget that about all the unpopular bills that Democrats have passed or are trying to pass.
    The truth is Democrats are 100% owners, both in the writting of and voting for, major bills that a majority of voters don't like. The stimulus, cap and trade and health care are the biggest.
    The Democrats have been in total control. Until Brown won in Mass. Republicans did not have the votes to stop anything. Democrats have been free to write and pass any bill they wanted. They have been free to transform all their so called great ideas into law.
    The problem is the voters have been rejecting every major bill the Democrats have produced. How can Obama expect anyone to believe that is the fault of the Republicans.
    Democrats are left naked as the 100% owners of bills voters have rejected and Obama is trying to deflect the voters anger over that back to the Republicans. It won't make the Democrats bad bills look any better to the voters.

    February 7, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. sandy

    I AGREE! Can't turn the TV on without one of them saying something stupid. I for one would like to see these people come together and protect our country. WE ARE SICK OF THIS!!! If the Republicans REALLY love this country, they would do the right thing. I personally think their real strategy is to bring down Obama, nothing more, nothing less. They better realize, if they bring our government down, we all go down.

    February 7, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Doug

    This government hack playing politics is too much. If we got rid of the entire agency, and took their high paying jobs and wages away, they would still get to tell you that you have no idea what happens in your own home. Time to take their badges away, probably so, you have a greater chance oof being hit by a shopping cart in the parking lot. Wake up America, this administration does not ever tell the truth.

    February 7, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Gil Oberdas

    None of the republicans opened theri big mouths when the shoe bomber was tried in civil court. The Party of No just gets so annoying after awhile. No, No No, and more No!

    February 7, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. James

    Sam... Bud your not all there are you? You really think either party wanted 3k americans dead? It is what the Bush admin did right after sept 11th is the reason we have not had anymore loss of life after that. I am sure other things could have been done better by Bush, just as alot of things could be done better by Obama or any pres for that matter. Finger point finger point.. thats the problem with both parties and the American people in general. It's always someone elses fault that you over spend your oney, that your in debt, that you bought the wrong house, that you didnt save up incase you lost your job. There are a few people that did save up and are now on hard times and I feel bad for them. I however do not feel bad for the people that saved nothing/ tried to keep up with the "jones" and are crying becuase they want a hand out.

    February 7, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. AR

    Furthermore, "calling for collaboration" on the part of the president needs to be more than just words. Republicans have PLENTY of ideas. Obama isn't interested in them. When he "calls for collaboration" he means, "vote for my ideas".

    House Republicans have alternative, less costly versions of every bill he suggests on their website within a few days. But because he doesn't HAVE to listen to them, he WON'T.

    The empty calls for "collaboration" are fortunately not fooling anybody any longer. Notice how Big O's approval ratings are lower than they were before his SOTU, after enjoying a bump of 10% for a week. So much for his soaring rhetoric.

    February 7, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. Rose

    Are we all forgetting "The system worked" comment. If it had not been for the brave citizens on board that plane who know what might have happened.
    Brennan said when he called McConnell and Boehner they did not raise the questions they are raising now. Who would have raised those questions, anyone with a brain would assume they were being treated as an enemy combatant not a U.S. Citizen.

    February 7, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. Len (Colorado)

    This is FACT:

    Back in December 2001, Richard Reed- the "Shoe Bomber" was read Miranda Rights four times in two days beginning five minutes after being taken into custody. He was tried in Civil Court and found guilty.

    The Christmas Bomber talked for 50 minutes, given his Miranda Rights when he refused to talk any longer. Also, rights were given because he waas going into surgery. And now is talking to the FBI. (And guess what he is not being tortured). Remember, we do have a Constitution.

    February 7, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. Mind over Matter

    Nearly a decade after the September 11th attacks, most Americans still believe the story being put out by the media and government. "We are but sheep, led around by our noses, taught and trained what to think, never to question, always believe what we are told. We have lost the ability to think on our own. To use common sense and reasoning ability. We are not in control of our thought processes. We simply, blindly, accept what the government and the media wishes us to believe.

    February 7, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. Blutarski

    Last time I checked, the Democrats were in control of Congress and the White House. What point would there be in calling and trying to tell the President how to do his job. The Republican input is clearly not wanted, and would have been criticized and disregarded anyway. Just remember who is in charge when the crap hits the fan.

    February 7, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. GuyInVA

    He should be tired of it. The left did it for 8 years. I watched the democrat party place the importance of winning an election over the importance of winning a war, and it doesn't appear as if they have changed one bit.

    February 7, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |

    "Divisive" is actually spelled "Republican"...

    February 7, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. RockRill

    Hey libs...

    The reason Bush tried those other guys in civilian court is because THEY HADN'T SET UP THE MILITARY TRIBUNALS YET!!!!

    Keep drinking that Kool-aid and spewing the lib talking points. Shows just how tiny your zombie-like brains really are.

    February 7, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Trials for terrorists

    If the Obama administration wants to bring suspected and/or caught terrorists to trial in civilian courts...then why not set-up an independent
    civilian court with some extra powers (just as is done when calling out for and independent procecutor) to procecute these terrorist. Such a special court must not only be approved by the Federal Justice Dept but also by Congress and given a term subject to renewal...For every problem when cool heads prevail there is a solution....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 7, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. SC-Pub "no" more

    CNN: "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. "

    Any more doubts about these people trying to undermine this country for their own political agendas? They don't care because they are without souls! These people are evil!

    February 7, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Tim McFarland

    Some Republicans would say that anything short of torture would be too lenient for the Christmas Day bomber.

    Others would say that, if Democrats did torture him, it would not be as good as if a Republican administration tortured him.

    Have we forgotten that the USSR was once our enemy, and they were infamous for human rights violations? I seem to remember we prided ourselves on being the opposite, pointing to the "show trials" of Stalin, and noting the superiority of our Constitution and way of life.

    Why have we forgotten this?

    February 7, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Aspen Professor

    Bush – Cheney – Republicans = Thousands killed by terriorists and that was after being warned by the FBI, Hmmm?

    Obama – Biden = ZERO Americans killed by teriorists

    Just more Republican flag-waving, arrogance, hypocrisy, and blantant lying by right-wing extremist controlled Republicans?

    Hey Tea Party idiots - Take a closer look at the facts, then tell us which of YOUR benefits do you want to have eliminated by the conservative Republicans, and which Terriorist threats do you wnat controlled by the Republicans??????

    February 7, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. hazel

    TCM...Actually, it IS spelled DIVISIVE. There's no such word as "devisive," though the base word of this fantasy construct is one that might be close to your heart.

    DEVISE means to arrange in one's mind, to contrive, to suppose, to imagine, as in: TCM imagines/devises that he's of such intellectual caliber that he can act like the ticker's spelling police.

    And stokr, please take a look at the records of those serving in the House and the Senate, and tell us if there are more Democrats or Republicans who served in the military. So much for your silly claim about who can't or won't fight.

    And as far as Obama being AWOL, please explain your point. On what do you base this also-silly claim?

    February 7, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. J

    And one more note, for all those who claim that the underwear bomber "clammed up" when read his rights, please make note of the fact that he has now started talking and cooperating fully. They got him to talk not by waterboarding him, but by bringing in his family to talk to him. That, folks, is called a creative interrogation tactic. Its effective and its legal. Try more of those.

    February 7, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. hazel

    lannymous...Fact check time for you. Bush was back out on the links in no time, making his bold little-man statements and then telling reporters to watch his swing.

    February 7, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. A.Darton

    phoenix86......What does using a telepromter bother these people so much? Does it bother you when Palin can't even remember answers to questions she already knew was coming, she has to write those answers in the palm of her hand. Talk about ignorence. I guess her hand is her telepromter.

    February 7, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Brian from NJ

    Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, will compare to the way the Democrats treated GWB... going as far as calling him a liar... WHILE WE HAD TROOPS ON THE GROUND!

    February 7, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. He's a Bad Man

    Ask those Somali pirates how soft President Obama is ....

    February 7, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. Charles

    The Bush admin tried over 150 terrorists exactly the same way Obama admin is doing it. Majority of which got life sentences in Federal prision The repubs do not want to talk about this.

    The three they tried in Gitmo military court..two got sentences of a few months and have already been released to home countries.

    I am glad the present admin is fighting back, I do not consider it crying or attacking when you point out wjhat is part of the public record.

    February 7, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Philly

    News flash....

    Both parties play politics on every issue.

    Stop whining about the other team and do something positive (it's the economy stupid) with the majority the American people have given you. If you don't you won't have it come November.

    February 7, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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