Brennan: Republican leaders did not object to terror suspect in hands of FBI

The Obama administration briefed four senior Republican congressional leaders on Christmas about the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight.

White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) did not raise any objections to bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab being held in FBI custody.

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“They knew that in FBI custody there is a process that you follow. None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at this point,” Brennan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They were very appreciative of the information.”

Bond, however, fired back at the assertions Sunday.

"Brennan never told me any of plans to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber -- 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 DNI Blair testified, so its absurd to try to blame congressional leaders for this dangerous decision that gave terrorists a five week head start to cover their tracks."

Boehner's office also took umbrage at Brennan's claims Sunday, saying that it was an unclassified, short call to Boehner's cell phone that informed the minority leader that the bombing suspect was in custody but did not approach briefing status.



"This Administration, and this Administration alone, made the dangerous decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights and treat him as a common criminal, not a terrorist, and it did so without even consulting our intelligence chiefs," Boehner's spokesman, Kevin Smith, said in a statement. "Instead of attempting to dodge responsibility, John Brennan and this Administration should focus on fixing the near-catastrophic intelligence breakdown that failed to prevent this attack. In the meantime, Republicans will continue to hold this Administration accountable and ensure that our government is doing everything it can to detect and stop future attacks, rather than just responding to them after they happen."


Republicans have slammed the administration for how it handled Abdulmutallab, who is accused of attempting to set off an explosion on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Republicans have recently criticized the administration for not handling the attacker in a military system, instead of a domestic law enforcement manner.

“There has been quite a bit of an outcry after the fact,” Brennan said, referring to the Republican critiques.

“I’m tiring of politicians using national security issues as terrorism as a political football,” Brennan said.

Brennan added that the administration is wary of how much information to share with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“We have to be very circumspect on what information is shared,” Brennan said.

This story was updated at 1:30 p.m.