WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser said Sunday that lawmakers and others are using national security to score political points and defended the handling of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner.
Deputy national security adviser John Brennan complained that politicians, many of them Republicans, were unfairly criticizing the administration for partisan purposes and second-guessing the case with a "500-mile screwdriver" that reaches from Washington to the scene of the abortive attack in Detroit.
Brennan said he had personally briefed top GOP lawmakers on Christmas night about the arrest of accused bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and that none of them raised objections.
"There's been quite a bit of an outcry after the fact, where again, I'm just very concerned on behalf of counterterrorism professionals throughout our government, that politicians continue to make this a political football and are using it for whatever political or partisan purposes," he said.
Among those he said he briefed were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; and the top Republicans on the congressional intelligence committees, Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri and Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan.
"None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point," Brennan said.
Republicans have been outspoken in criticizing the administration for treating Abdulmutallab as a civilian and reading him his rights.
Brennan said that Abdulmutallab was treated no differently than any other terror suspect arrested on U.S. soil and that the FBI and others involved in his arrest acted appropriately.
"I think those counterterrorism professionals deserve the support of our Congress," he said. "And rather than second-guessing what they are doing on the ground with a 500- mile screwdriver from Washington to Detroit, I think they have to have confidence in the knowledge and the experience of these counterterrorism professionals."
Brennan spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press."