UPDATE: All GOP officials lawmakers deny Brennan's charge; see details here.
Top Obama counterterrorism official John Brennan is blasting Republican lawmakers, accusing them of hypocrisy and of making a "political football" of the administration's decision to grant full American constitutional rights to accused Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Appearing on "Meet the Press," Brennan said that on Christmas night, just hours after Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest Airlines flight 253, Brennan called top Republican lawmakers, telling them that Abdulmutallab was in FBI custody. "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?"
Here is Brennan's full statement, beginning with a question from NBC's David Gregory:
GREGORY: When you briefed some Republicans about how he was going to be treated, were they on board with the administration's decision?
BRENNAN: On Christmas night, I called a number of senior members of Congress. I spoke to Senators McConnell and Bond, I spoke to Representatives Boehner and Hoekstra. I explained to them that he was in FBI custody, that Mr. Abdulmutallab was in fact talking, that he was cooperating at that point. They knew that in FBI custody means that there's a process that you follow, as far as Mirandizing and presenting him in front of a magistrate. None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point. They didn't say, Is he going into military custody? Is he going to be Mirandized? They were very appreciative of the information. We told them we would keep them informed, and that's what we did. So there's been quite a bit of an outcry after the fact, where again, I'm just very concerned on behalf of the counterterrorism professionals throughout our government, that politicians continue to make this a political football and are using it for whatever political or partisan purposes.
I'm trying to get reaction from some of the lawmakers who were contacted, but it's not clear how strong Brennan's point is. He says he told the Republicans that Abdulmutallab "was cooperating at that point," which suggests that Brennan called the lawmakers before Abdulmutallab stopped talking. It is not clear whether he then re-called them to say that, after a 50-minute interrogation, Abdulmutallab was no longer cooperating. It also appears that Brennan relied on the lawmakers to surmise that Abdulmutallab had been given the Miranda warning, since they were told that he was in FBI custody. And it's not clear whether the lawmakers knew there was no high-value detainee interrogation group to question Abdulmutallab. (Even the Director of National Intelligence didn't know that when he testified at a recent Senate hearing.)
Nevertheless, Brennan seems angry about Republican criticisms of the handling of Abdulmutallab. What is less clear is just what the administration told the lawmakers about it.
UPDATE: Sen. Bond responds, saying Brennan "never told" him of the plan to Mirandize Abdulmutallab. Bond's entire statement:
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. The truth is that the administration did not even consult our intelligence chiefs, as DNI Blair testified, so it's absurd to try to blame Congressional leaders for this dangerous decision that gave terrorists a five week head start to cover their tracks.