WH counterterrorism chief: Criticizing Obama only aids Al Qaeda

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York reports on a war of words well underway between WH counterterorrism chief John Brennan and 4 GOP leaders on the issue of Mirandizing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Islamofascist thug who attempted to blow up a plane en route to Detroit on Christmas Day:

In a brief op-ed in USA Today, White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan charges that critics who question the Obama administration’s decision to grant Miranda rights to accused Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab are “serv[ing] the goals of al Qaeda.”

“Too many in Washington are now misrepresenting the facts to score political points,” Brennan writes. “Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda.”

Now, however, those critics are questioning whether Brennan is trying to score a few political points of his own. First, Brennan supports the administration’s position, which most critics find absurd, that the initial 50-minute interrogation of Abdulmutallab — all the Justice Department would allow before he was read his Miranda rights — was somehow adequate. “Immediately after the failed Christmas Day attack,” Brennan writes, “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was thoroughly interrogated and provided important information.”

Second, Brennan writes that, “The most important breakthrough occurred after Abdulmutallab was read his rights…” What Brennan does not say is that that breakthrough reportedly occurred several weeks after Abdulmutallab was read his rights. In the intervening period, apparently, investigators got little out of the suspect.

In the meantime, we can safely assume that his fellow Yemen suicide bombers were adjusting their strategies and tactics while Abdulmutallab was mulling over his “legal options.” York has a related piece on the GOP’s response to Brennan’s Sunday accusation that top GOP leaders were briefed on the so-called Christmas Day bomber and didn’t raise a fuss on the issue of Miranda rights:

Just a few hours before Obama spoke, some top GOP lawmakers were astonished to hear White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan, appearing on “Meet the Press,” claim that they had known about — and had not objected to — the administration’s decision to read Abdulmutallab his rights.

Brennan said he called four top GOP lawmakers — Sens. Mitch McConnell and Christopher Bond and Reps. John Boehner and Peter Hoekstra — on Christmas night, just hours after Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Brennan said he told the Republicans that the FBI had a suspect in custody; from that, Brennan claimed, the lawmakers should have inferred that Abdulmutallab would be read his Miranda rights.

“None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point,” Brennan said. “They didn’t say, ‘Is he going into military custody? Is he going to be Mirandized?'”

Within hours of Brennan’s TV appearance, all four GOP lawmakers denied the story. “Brennan never told me of any plans to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber,” said Bond. “It never came up,” said Hoekstra. Spokesman for McConnell and Boehner denied it, too.

It makes sense that the issue never came up, says former Bush administration speechwriter Marc Thiessen, a fierce critic of this administration’s war on terror policies and author of Courting Disaster, who wrote a blistering response to Brennan at National Review’s Corner blog yesterday:

The problem with Brennan’s claim?

As I point out in Courting Disaster, just a few months earlier, the Obama administration announced that its new FBI-led “High-Value Interrogation Group” (HIG) would not necessarily Mirandize suspects it was questioning.

In its story on the announcement, the Washington Post reported:

**Interrogators will not necessarily read detainees their rights before questioning, instead making that decision on a case-by-case basis, officials said. . . . “It’s not going to, certainly, be automatic in any regard that they are going to be Mirandized,” one official said, referring to the practice of reading defendants their rights. “Nor will it be automatic that they are not Mirandized.”**

In other words, Republicans were assured by the Obama administration that the decision on reading Miranda rights to captured terrorists would be made a on “case-by-case” basis.

So if Brennan is wondering why the Republicans he spoke with did not just assume Abdumutallab would be automatically Mirandized, it is because the Obama administration told them so.

Of course, the HIG was not interrogating Abdulmutallab because — despite all the fanfare with its announcement — it had not yet been stood up. But how were Republicans to know that? Especially since Obama’s own director of national intelligence didn’t know that either?

Anymore questions?

With regards to Brennan’s accusations that Republican criticism of President Obama’s counterterrorism policies equates to aiding Al Qaeda, a couple of things:

1) Where’s the outcry from the left over the questioning of patriotism here? They screamed bloody murder everytime an accusation remotely sounding like that came from the GOP during the Bush admin. Now? Crickets chirping. Which brings me to my second point, which is:

2) On the issue of criticizing a President in a time of war, contra to the left’s wild spinning and hand gesturing on the issue, it never was about wanting to shut down all criticism of President Bush; rather, it was about the types of criticisms, how they were leveled, and how those criticisms were affected perceptions of the Commander in Chief by both friends and foes alike, how they translated morale-wise by our military men and women in the battlefield – whether it was in the sands of Iraq or Afghanistan – and how they would affect our intelligence agencies’ information-gathering abilities globally. Not only that, but there was a valid concern – concerns held by Democrat and Republican presidents alike in the past – that certain types of “criticisms” coming from the left, namely, the despicable accusations by top Democrats like Senators Kennedy, Kerry, and Durbin and Congressional reps like Charlie Rangel, “criticisms” that suggested that our President, our troops, and our intelligence agencies were no better than the respective regimes of Saddam Hussein and Pol Pot and Hitler, would greatly aid the enemy.

It’s clear that Brennan and his left wing brethren both in and out of the WH don’t understand the difference between making baseless, repugnant moral equivalencies between the US and its worst enemies during a time of war, which effectively sends dangerous signals to the enemy during a time of war that they have unwitting allies in the United States government, versus legitimately expressed concerns that the President of the United States and his national security team might not be doing enough to keep Americans safe, both home and abroad.

It’s the difference between one party wanting to weaken a President’s wartime powers during a time of war for partisan political purposes – no matter the cost in terms of both loss of life and America’s beacon of light reputation worldwide, versus one party wanting a President to utilize, not water down, the tools he has at his disposal to wage an effective war against those who seek to destroy us.

It’s frightening that over 8 years after 9-11, these people still don’t get it. Will they ever?

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