GOP responds: White House 'trying to pass the buck' 

I've just been in touch with Sen. Christopher Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, and a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner.  I asked all to comment on the new White House accusation that critics who question the Obama administration's decision to grant Miranda rights to accused Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab are "serv[ing] the goals of al Qaeda."

"The only one making this political is the White House," says Bond in a statement. "The administration must do better, because trying to pass the buck for their dangerous decisions and divulging sensitive information to al Qaeda is not an effective terror-fighting strategy."

Hoekstra, too, sees a White House trying to deflect blame from itself for the decision to grant Abdulmutallab full American constitutional rights. "In the last week, the Obama administration has made the calculation that, 'We're doing so poorly on national security, let's blame the Republicans, and let's say that any criticism of our policies is dangerous to national security and is purely political,'" Hoekstra told me.

As one of the leading critics of the administration's anti-terror policies, Hoekstra believes Brennan's comments are directed at him, among others. "He's accusing me of distorting of misleading the facts," Hoekstra says. "So John, let's talk about what the facts are. Did Janet Napolitano say we were going to get rid of the term 'terrorism' and use 'man-made disasters' or not? Did the president commit to closing Gitmo within one year or didn't he? Did he commit to moving the trial of KSM from Cuba to New York City or didn't he? Did the national security team refuse to identify Ft. Hood as a terrorist attack or not? Did you Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber or didn't you? Did you hold a press conference to tell the world that he was cooperating or didn't you? Those are all policy decisions. If I've got the facts wrong, where are those facts wrong?"

"They're like, 'Don't criticize us because we're right and you're aiding the enemy," says Hoekstra. "That's totally inaccurate. We're arguing for policies that we think will keep American safe, and we are arguing against policies that we think jeopardize our national security."

As for Boehner, spokesman Michael Steel says, "Asking hard questions about the White House's lack of an overarching plan to confront and defeat the terrorist threat is a core responsibility of elected leaders in Congress. This sort of cheap, irresponsible political smear doesn't help keep the American people safe."

The White House charge is in a USA Today op-ed written by top counterterrorism official John Brennan. "Too many in Washington are now misrepresenting the facts to score political points," Brennan writes. "Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda." For more on Brennan's accusations, see here.

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