Politico Ignores Biggest Strikes Against Brennan’s Credibility
Josh Gerstein and Kasie Hunt’s February 10th Politico article, GOP, White House go to war over terrorism does a fair job clipping from press releases sent between the White House and Congressional Republicans, but completely fails to get at the core reasons why Obama administration Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan has lost all credibility with Capitol Hill GOPers.
Hunt and Gerstein do report that Republicans are partially upset because “Brennan said that those who make politically motivated criticism over national security ‘only serve the goals of Al Qaeda.’” But that is just the beginning of the problems with Brennan February 9th USA Today op-ed:
Interrogation Contradictions: First Brennan asserts that “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was thoroughly interrogated and provided important information.” But just one sentence later Brennan admits: “The most important breakthrough occurred after Abdulmutallab was read his rights.” So which is it? Was the first interrogation so thorough that no active and useful intelligence was lost, or did “the most important breakthrough” come over a month later, giving al-Qaeda a month’s head start?
Coordination Contradictions: Brennan asserts “Senior counterterrorism officials from the White House, the intelligence community and the military were all actively discussing this case before he was Mirandized and supported the decision to charge him in criminal court.” But this has been directly contradicted by the sworn testimony of National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair.
False Miranda History: Brennan writes: “Would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid was read his Miranda rights five minutes after being taken off a plane he tried to blow up. The same people who criticize the president today were silent back then.” But Brennan leaves out the fact that Reid was arrested in December 2001, before the military detention system was in place. This is like accusing George Washington of treason for not using machine guns against the British. He didn’t use them because they didn’t exist yet.
Military vs. Civilian Custody: Brennan writes: “There is little difference between military and civilian custody, other than an interrogator with a uniform. The suspect gets access to a lawyer, and interrogation rules are nearly identical.” The roles of lawyers in the civilian and military system are completely different. In military custody, detainees are not read their Miranda rights and their lawyer’s purpose is to challenge his detention as an enemy combatant. Under civilian custody, the suspect is read his Miranda rights and his lawyer is there to make sure he does not say anything that will incriminate himself. The situations are completely different, not “nearly identical.”
Military vs. Civilian Trials: Brennan writes: “Cries to try terrorists only in military courts lack foundation.” It is Brennan’s false choice of all civilian or all military trials that lacks foundation. There are hundreds of witnesses who stand ready to testify and send Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to jail. The Justice Departmnt does not need Abdulmutallab’s testimony to be admissible in court. There is nothing stopping the administration from questioning Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant without reading him Miranda rights and then trying him in civilian court later.
A three page story should have at least touched on one of these issues.