The ongoing feud between Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and the White House was in full effect Thursday as both rejected the other’s take on the administration’s handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspected terrorist allegedly behind the foiled Christmas Day airline attack.
Bond, the Intelligence ranking member, last week dismissed a request by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to apologize for accusing the president of trying to score political points by announcing that Abdulmutallab was cooperating with intelligence officials — a move that Bond said threatens the government’s ability to protect ongoing intelligence operations.
“After telling me to keep my mouth shut, the White House discloses sensitive information in an effort to defend a dangerous and unpopular decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab and I’m supposed to apologize?” Bond said last week in a statement.
During a Thursday press briefing, Gibbs said Bond’s problem is that he doesn’t understand that even suspected terrorist detainees get their Miranda rights read to them.
“I don’t know whether Kit Bond was confused or he just doesn’t want to admit the facts” about FBI protocols for interrogating terrorist suspects, Gibbs told reporters. “I don’t think Kit Bond liked to hear what he already knows, which was he’s been told that Abdulmutallab was in FBI custody after what happened on Christmas Day.”
Bond took to the Senate floor later Thursday and said he is “fearful” that the administration is weakening national security by coming up with strategies for handling suspected terrorists after an attack has already taken place. He vowed not to let the administration continue its national security policies without oversight.
“As a member of this body and a representative of the people of my state will continue to do so, regardless of what is said about me, Bond said.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) defended the administration moments later, accusing Republicans of being hypocritical about challenging a president on national security matters.
When Senate Democrats criticized President George. W. Bush, Republicans accused them of “literally interfering with national security and the authority of the commander in chief,” Durbin said.