Partisan second-guessing of failed jet bombing is unfair, says John Brennan
Brennan ‘tiring’ of ‘political football’ over terror (NBC “Meet the Press,” Feb. 7, 2010) – Deputy national security adviser John Brennan discusses the political dispute over the handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press.” (06:03)
February 7, 2010
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser said Sunday that lawmakers and others are using national security to score political points and defended the handling of the suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner.
Deputy national security adviser John Brennan complained that politicians, many of them Republicans, were unfairly criticizing the administration for partisan purposes and second-guessing the case with a “500-mile screwdriver” that reaches from Washington to the scene of the abortive attack in Detroit.
Brennan said he had personally briefed top Republican lawmakers on Christmas night about the arrest of accused bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and that none of them raised objections.
“There’s been quite a bit of an outcry after the fact, where again, I’m just very concerned on behalf of counterterrorism professionals throughout our government, that politicians continue to make this a political football and are using it for whatever political or partisan purposes,” he said. …
Republicans have been outspoken in criticizing the administration for treating Abdulmutallab as a civilian and reading him his rights to remain silent and retain a lawyer.
Brennan said that Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, was treated no differently than any other terror suspect arrested on U.S. soil and that the FBI and others involved in his arrest acted appropriately.
“I think those counterterrorism professionals deserve the support of our Congress,” he said. “And rather than second-guessing what they are doing on the ground with a 500-mile screwdriver from Washington to Detroit, I think they have to have confidence in the knowledge and the experience of these counterterrorism professionals.” …
Brennan spoke on NBC television’s “Meet the Press.”
By Walter Pincus and Ed O’Keefe
February 8, 2010
President Obama‘s senior counterterrorism adviser on Sunday criticized politicians for using terrorism situations such as the Detroit bombing case as a “political football.”
Republican House and Senate members have questioned why Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspect in the Christmas Day bombing attempt, was not treated as an enemy combatant instead of being questioned for 50 minutes by the FBI and later given his Miranda rights.
Former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, in her speech Saturday night before the Tea Party convention, said the Obama administration sees “no downsides or upsides to treating terrorists like civilian criminal defendants. But a lot of us would beg to differ.”
Without citing individuals, Brennan, a longtime CIA official and now White House deputy national security adviser, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “Quite frankly, I am tiring of politicians using national security issues such as terrorism as a political football. They are going out there, they are unknowing of the facts, and they are making charges and allegations that are not anchored in reality.”
Brennan said that on Christmas night he had briefed four senior House and Senate Republicans about Abdulmutallab, who was “in FBI custody” and at that point “talking” and “cooperating.” He said that at no point did any of the four — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Republican minority leader; Sen. Christopher S. Bond (Mo.), ranking GOP member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the House minority leader; and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), ranking minority member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — raise concerns about Abdulmutallab being placed in military custody or being Mirandized.
Brennan said “quite a bit of an outcry after the fact” led him to be “concerned on behalf of the counterterrorism professionals” that politicians are using the issue for partisan purposes, whether they be Democrats or Republicans.
On Sunday, all four Republicans took issue with Brennan’s characterization of their Christmas night conversations. …
During the “Meet the Press” interview, Brennan said the right thing had been done on Christmas, but he made clear that the administration may be rethinking that decision. He said the president had ordered a new look at the processes “and whether or not we can enhance and strengthen them, and that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
Related reports on this site
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is seen in this undated handout, distributed by IntelCenter on December 28, 2009, and attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (Photo credit: IntelCenter – Handout / Reuters)
Underwear Bomb: No Smoking Gun (Jan. 3, 2010)
Yemen Link in Airline Terror Plot (Dec. 26, 2009)
Christmas Terrorism Alert (Dec. 25, 2009)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — February 8, 2009
The Pentagon is reviewing 18 deaths in conjunction with a contractor’s electrical work, including that of Staff Sgt. Christopher Everett, seen in the photograph next to his mother, Larraine McGee of Huntsville, Texas. (Photo credit: Susan Walsh / AP)
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that defense contractor KBR Inc. had been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract involving major electrical work, even as it was under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
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