• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • From NRO's The Corner: Brennan Embarrasses Himself

    Earlier this weekend, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin told Chris Wallace in a Fox News interview that the Obama administration’s position on dissent is that detractors should “sit down and shut up.” The Huffington Post crowd immediately jumped on the statement, saying it couldn’t be supported.

    Well, 24 hours later, White House homeland-security adviser John Brennan put this argument to rest by publishing a blog in USA Today that not only tells Americans to sit down and shut up but also accuses them of “serv[ing] the goals of al-Qaeda” if they question the president’s national-security strategy — as if two-sided political discourse is al-Qaeda’s ultimate goal.

    In fewer than 400 words, Brennan embarrasses himself with half-truths, selective omissions, and name-calling hysteria. But more importantly, he identifies one of the major problems facing the Obama White House: They lack a credible leader on homeland security that the American people fully trust. This problem clearly began when DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano came out days after Christmas saying “the system worked.”

    Napolitano was quickly sent to a cabinet timeout, where she joined HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose leadership has been noticeably absent from the health-care debate. The administration scrambled to find a public face for their damage control, and John Brennan drew the short straw. Since then, Brennan has lashed out at former Vice President Dick Cheney and other critics with a level of petulance unbecoming an adviser in his role.

    In his blog, Brennan says Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was “thoroughly interrogated” immediately after his failed bombing attempt. However, even Brennan has stated that the interrogation lasted 50 minutes. Under no plausible scenario is 50 minutes of interrogation “thorough.”

    Brennan goes on to say the “most important breakthrough occurred after Abdulmutallab was read his rights.” He fails to mention how many weeks that took, nor why we even know about this. Based on what can be gathered from administration officials, Abdulmutallab began cooperating long after intelligence was still actionable. White House officials leaked this conversation, putting Abdulmutallab’s profoundly cooperative family at risk and signaling to al-Qaeda that anything operational this foot soldier knows should be revised.

    Brennan also delivers the overused line that, because shoe bomber Richard Reid was given Miranda rights, so should Abdulmutallab. Reid’s arrest took place in December 2001. John Brennan should remember that December 2001 wasn’t exactly our most organized hour as a nation. The White House Office of Homeland Security was just being stood up, anthrax attacks were being investigated, the sites of the 9/11 attacks were still smoldering, and Americans were rightly worried about the next attack. We didn’t have the luxury of second-guessing our arrest methods. We do now. Military tribunals were not yet congressionally authorized for this purpose.

    Brennan accuses the president’s opponents of “fear-mongering” and says, “We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.” On the bright side, administration officials have regularly failed to call our efforts against terrorists a war, so at least this brazen acknowledgement is progress. But they do in fact deserve a lecture.

    Constitutional rights are not automatically granted to anyone who attempts to enter our nation, let alone to someone whose motivation is not to enter the nation but to direct a suicide bomb at its citizens. When Abdulmutallab was arrested, “senior counterterrorism officials from the White House, the intelligence community and the military” were not in fact consulted before “he was Mirandized” — unless Brennan is accusing Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair of lying to Congress. (Blair said he “was not consulted.”)

    Conservatives have every ounce of available faith in our intelligence services and our law-enforcement community. We do not have the same confidence in the leaders who have spent the better part of the past year denigrating the work of the CIA and offering the false choice of waterboarding or civilian trial, with nothing in between.

    This administration has attempted to build a narrative that if we don’t try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, if we don’t close Gitmo, if we don’t read foreign enemy combatants their Miranda rights, than we embolden our enemies. The only problem with this narrative is that al-Qaeda terrorists simply don’t care about it. They want to destroy us regardless of these actions or who is in the White House.

    Americans are not keeping score on political points, nor are Republicans in Washington. The only place the political scoreboard exists seems to be in the West Wing, where ugly demagoguery is the only winning play.

    I have worked for four of Brennan’s five predecessors in his job. Each and every one of them — from former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, to Admiral Steve Abbot, to General John Gordon, to Fran Townsend — served admirably, professionally, and with integrity. Their first mission was not to denigrate political opponents but to prevent future attacks on our soil, and they were all hugely successful. John Brennan has failed to live up to the expectations his predecessors set in practice and rhetoric. President Obama should demand better, immediately.

    Rory Cooper is Director of Strategic Communications at The Heritage Foundation. He served in the White House Homeland Security Council between 2001 and 2004. You can follow him on Twitter @rorycooper.

    This article was originally published in National Review’s The Corner, and can be found here.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to From NRO's The Corner: Brennan Embarrasses Himself

    1. gerrit, dc says:

      how many times did you misspell "Abdulmutallab" while writing this???

      foundry looks great btw. love the off-angle mcconnel green room too

    2. Drew Page, IL says:

      What was Mr. Obama's challange to the American public, "judge me by the people I surround myself with"?

      "Anyone questioning the President's national security strategy is serving the goals of al Quaeda"? He's got to be kidding. What "national security strategy"? Denying that there is such a thing as "terrorism" and coining the term "man-made disaster" as its substitute? Immdeiately identifying the Christmas Day 'alleged' bomber as an "isolated extremist"? By Mirandizing said alleged bomber, providing him with a court appointed lawyer and discontinuing interrogation, despite his confession of being recruited by and working with al Quada cells in Saudi Arabia and revealing that more such attempts would be forthcoming? Mirandizing captured enemy combatants and proclaiming they have U.S. Constitutional rights that must be defended? Are these the elements of the President's national security strategy that Mr. Brennen is talking about?

      Yes, these must be the elements of the President's national security strategy to which Director of Homeland Security, Jan Napolitano, was referring when she said "the system worked" in reference to the capture (by passengers) of the 'alleged' Christmas Day bomber. And yes, somehow, the existence of the attempted, "Shoe Bomber", Richard Reid, was Dick Chaney's fault.

      Way to go, Mr. Brennen. Put it out there and tell it like it is, anyone criticizing the President's nation security strategy should be tried for treason and shot, and not necessarily in that order.

    3. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Just as all the others in the Obama administration, Brennan is following instructions. Have we all not witnessed the reaction to anyone that disagrees with, or criticizes anything Obama does? Attacks and attempts to discredit

      is standard operation by Obama lackeys and the left wing news media. We had all better understand before it's too late, this is what we have in the White House

      and it will not change until Obama is gone.

    4. Norma from Nebraska says:

      Our President really truly has "pooped in his nest" and now he has to sleep in it UNTIL he either jumps out or learns to fly! The people he has surrounded himself with in the White House are almost all over-educated book scholars from elite ivy league schools who know a LOT about theory and nearly nothing about implementation or the reality of the theory in action. Instead of making a point of getting advice from the people who KNOW what works, they just fumble around mucking up every situation they face. Perhaps that is what is required to be GREAT progressives but not necessarily good for a country already in deep trouble! So what do you expect????? Until our POTUS wakes up and figures out that these people are NOT helping him or the country (which means he has to make changes – BIG changes), we are in for three more years of the same old S – - – !!!

      These guys are like a bunch of bumper pool balls rolling around the table hitting each other! They are bouncing everything they can think of off the walls to see if something will stick. No one is responsible for anything, everyone is expected to bash Bush for everything that goes wrong, even 13 months after Obama's swearing-in, and NOW they are frustrated because WE would dare to question them and hold them responsible for what is happening in this country! Nearly every thing they say is either a fabrication called “Obama truth” or a figment of their imagination: the true cost of health care bill, the seriousness of the SS Trust Fund situation, the deficit for ONE year being $1.6 TRILLION, the crisis of climate change (or lack thereof) and the list seems to be endless. It is almost like they live in the twilight zone so we can't believe a single thing any of them say!

      Well, guess what? I have a second grade granddaughter who probably has more common sense in her little pinky than all of these ivy leaguers put together, the least of which is knowing right from wrong!!!! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to KNOW you can't spend your way out of a financial crisis; you can't "make nice" with countries who hate our guts and expect them to say, "Oh isn't that nice? We'll do just what you want us to from now on," you can't FORCE American citizens to buy health care they DON'T want, you can't FORCE Americans to pay for cap and trade when they KNOW they can't afford it, you can't MAKE small businesses hire new employees by trying to bribe them into borrowing money they may not be able to repay, and the list is just endless.

      And now we have this situation with Mr. Brennen. Perhaps he should just keep HIS mouth shut because every time he opens it nasty stuff comes out. And making threats is certainly a poor defense for inadequate performance, maybe in his eyes better than none, but poor at the very least. When one has a job to do and screws it up, he should be held accountable . . . PERIOD. That is what happens in OUR world!

      You know this is a man who should KNOW what he is doing, but if he doesn't then he needs to admit it, resign, take his marbles and go home! If he does know and the White House is impeding him in doing his job, then he needs to say so before it is too late.

      National Security is essential to the survival of our country. Without a real "PLAN" of action, one that we can implement so we KNOW what we are going to do and HOW every single time it is necessary to act, our President will fail to protect our country which is his NUMBER ONE job. Not health care, not cap and trade, not the economy, not jobs, not global currency, not one-world government . . . . but PROTECT our country from harm. Without real security, the rest doesn't really matter.

      How’s all that “hope and change” working out for you?

    5. fridz, california says:

      Yes fine, President Obama should demand better, but how can he if he's behind all this? After all, Brennan, as Napolitano, as Holder, all form this president & his rogue government's image, near impossible to distinguish one from the other.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×