Has National Security Become Too Political?

Counterterrorism chief John Brennan breaks precedent to tackle Republicans

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The White House counterterrorism chief is usually an apolitical position, but its current holder, John Brennan, changed that Sunday while on NBC's Meet The Press. Apparently sick of Republicans increasingly attacking the Obama administration over national security, Brennan said, "And quite frankly, I'm tiring of politicians using national security issues such as-- terrorism as a political football. They are going out there. They're-- they're unknowing of the facts. And they're making charges and allegations that are not anchored in reality."

Brennan said that Congressional Republicans briefed on U.S. response to the Flight 253 incident raised no protest to White House plans at the time, but later criticized those plans in public. Has the GOP politicized national security to a point that Brennan, a lifelong CIA official with experience in the first Bush administration, can no longer tolerate? Is the White House enlisting Brennan in its political fight?

  • Risks Brennan's Bipartisan Credibility Newsweek's Michael Isikoff warns, "The next time Brennan briefs the Hill or the news media about the administration's counter-terrorism efforts, Republicans (and perhaps some journalists) will likely be on guard for any sign he is slanting the intelligence for the president's political advantage." He adds, "Both sides may have a point in this dispute, although the White House clearly caught a lucky break last week when FBI Director Robert Mueller disclosed that Abdulmutallab is now once again cooperating with agents."
  • GOP Critics Are Lying or Dumb Republican critics of the administration's decision to read Miranda rights to the Flight 253 attacker say they were only informed he was in FBI custody, not that he had been Mirandized. Spencer Ackerman wonders why they didn't realize that all suspects in FBI custody are Mirandized. "Apparently these men, who claim leadership on national security, know less about FBI procedure than the average movie-goer. Obviously the FBI Mirandizes suspects in their custody."
  • GOP Wants To Look Tough on Terror Mother Jones's Kevin Drum sighs, "Republicans have decided that yammering about Obama being soft on airplane bombers is a winning strategy and they don't plan to stop no matter what. Still, just for the record, it would be nice if the FBI could tell us if it Mirandized all the terrorist suspects it held during the Bush administration. I'm pretty sure the answer is yes, and I'm pretty sure no Republicans ever complained about it then."
  • Both Sides Just Posturing The American Prospect's Adam Serwer insists there isn't enough policy difference between the two parties to merit a real political fight. "[T]he policy continuity between the Obama and Bush administrations has been so flush that it's disturbing," he writes.
  • White House Quietly Conceding? NBC News's Domenico Montanaro reports, "Largely missed in this security back-and-forth was the administration's suggestion that it's rethinking how it proceeds with future terrorist apprehensions. [...] So while the White House has decided to fight back big time on this issue of whether reading Miranda rights was the right thing to do with the Christmas bomber, they are also hinting that the next terrorist may NOT get Miranda rights so quickly."
  • This Is Nothing New Liberal blogger Joe Sudbay points out, "Remember Dick Cheney outed an undercover CIA spy for political reasons. And, never forget, the war in Iraq was based on Weapons of Mass Destruction, a charge that was not anchored in reality."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.