I know, I know, people around here are saying, “Kit who?” The republicans must have woken him up now that they have a 41-59 majority in the Senate.
Toward the end of today’s White House press briefing there was a brief discussion of Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond’s (r) political posturing:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 04, 2010
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:47 P.M. EST
…Q One last — one question on security — one question, it’s important. Senator Bond wrote a letter to the President today about a conversation that we had here in the briefing room yesterday and Bill gave a couple of answers — many answers, really — on there was no political nature to the White House explanation of the dealing with Abdulmutallab. What Bond says in his letter is that the senators on the Intelligence Committee were briefed specifically earlier this week that the disclosure of Abdulmutallab’s cooperation should not be revealed because it was — he says in this letter — “Doing so would threaten ongoing efforts to stop operations the intelligence community thought were possibly happening against the United States.” He writes in this letter, “Distortion of the congressional notification process suggests that other considerations are taking precedence over keeping timely and sensitive information away from our enemies” — I know a charge you would fundamentally reject, but I want to get your response to that.
MR. GIBBS: Well, first and foremost, I don’t want to speak for Senator Bond, who, if the timeline you outlined — a Monday briefing for a Tuesday hearing — why he would in his Tuesday hearing use the statement that the subject refused to cooperate after he was Mirandized.
So I don’t want to speak for the senator who didn’t certainly use any of that information to correct what he said in public in a hearing that happens a day after.
I would say this, having read the letter. During a hearing on Tuesday, information was released that clearly showed that Mr. Abdulmutallab was indeed talking again to interrogators. For those of you that participated in the background briefing, you know that was not something that was timed purposefully.
Q Were they not supposed to reveal it?
MR. GIBBS: It was not timed purposefully. Soon after that — soon after that, media reported — we felt it important to contextualize, because many of you were e-mailing us, what this testimony meant.
I would say, again, having read the letter, no briefing is done here or anywhere in this administration where classified information is used in a place where it shouldn’t be. And I would suggest that somebody that alleges that when they know it doesn’t happen owe people an apology.
Any briefing that’s done here in order to ensure that the information that’s in the public is correct is done in conjunction with many agencies and done so so that information that is classified and shouldn’t be released isn’t released. And in this case obviously it was not.
Q So Bond owes you an apology? Bond owes the President an apology?
MR. GIBBS: No, I don’t think Bond is alleging that the President was in the briefing.
Q On the — on the — two questions.
MR. GIBBS: Hold on, hold on — just hold on, just — this is an important question, Lester.
Q Oh, sure, okay.
MR. GIBBS: The notion that somehow the White House, in conjunction with agencies involved in this interrogation, gave out classified information — yes, I think an apology on that is owed because it’s not true. And I think anybody that was involved in knowing in the Senate Intelligence Committee what was briefed and what was reported would know that that wasn’t violated.
Again, Major, I don’t want to speak for Senator Bond in why, if he was briefed on Monday, why on Tuesday, why does he say that Abdulmutallab — the result of his refusal to cooperate after he was Mirandized? Why does Senator Bond continue to knowingly not have information curb what he’s saying, or is this a bunch of politics?
Q So he owes an apology to whom?
MR. GIBBS: I think he owes an apology to the professionals in the law enforcement community and those that work in this building, not for Democrats and Republicans, but who work each and every day to keep the American people safe and would never, ever, ever knowingly release — or unknowingly release — classified information that could endanger an operation or an interrogation.
Again, I think that the reason that charge is made is only to play politics. I actually don’t believe that that — that he thinks that’s a serious allegation. I think that is — I think if you look at the letter, it’s clearly — this is about politics….
What else is new?
Senator Bond’s (r) press release and letter:
BOND QUESTIONS MOTIVATION BEHIND DISCLOSURE OF VITAL NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION TO MEDIA
Senator Urges President to Prioritize Security Over Politics
Print This: Print this page
February 4, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kit Bond, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today questioned the motivation behind the Administration’s recent disclosure of vital national security information on the Christmas Day bomber to the media. In a letter to the President, Bond also urged President Obama to prioritize security over politics in the future.
The text of the letter is below:
February 4, 2010
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
During my tenure on the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have worked with the Executive Branch to stem the disclosure of sensitive information. In 2006, for example, I introduced legislation that would aid the Executive Branch in prosecuting individuals engaged in leaks of classified information. In the realm of national security, sometimes it is necessary to withhold critical information from the public that may be used by our enemies to harm the American people.
Accordingly, I am deeply disturbed with the official handling of vital national security information regarding the recent cooperation by the Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab. On Monday afternoon, the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee received notification from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concerning Abdulmutallab’s recent willingness to provide critical information. FBI officials stressed the importance of not disclosing the fact of his cooperation in order to protect on-going and follow-on operations to neutralize additional threats to the American public; FBI Director Bob Mueller personally stressed to me that keeping the fact of his cooperation quiet was vital to preventing future attacks against the United States. Handling this information in such a sensitive manner struck me as entirely appropriate.
Twenty-four hours later, however, White House staff assembled members of the media to announce Abdulmutallab’s cooperation and to laud the events that led to his decision to cooperate with law enforcement personnel. This information immediately hit the air waves globally and, no doubt, reached the ears of our enemies abroad.
At the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Annual World Wide Threats Hearing Tuesday, the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI Director, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency all stated they believe terrorists will attempt another attack on America within the next few months. I cannot understand, Mr. President, why the sudden cooperation by Abdulmutallab would be broadcast publicly to the media in detail when your intelligence chiefs are unanimously warning that another attack on our country is imminent. The release of this sensitive information has no doubt been helpful to his terrorist cohorts around the world.
It is deeply disturbing to me that the Intelligence Committee would be advised of sensitive information, and told of the vital imperative to keep such information secret for the sake of national security, only to see this information – less than twenty-four hours later -broadcast to the world from the White House. This distortion of the congressional notification process suggests that other considerations are taking precedence over keeping timely and sensitive information away from our enemies.
Some have tried to use Abdulmutallab’s sudden cooperation as a justification for prosecuting this foreign terrorist in an Article III court, but I believe this development supports an opposing view. Because we treated him in this fashion, we followed Miranda and advised him of his right to remain silent, losing five crucial weeks for obtaining imminent threat information. Miranda is issued when statements from the accused are needed to obtain a conviction, but in this case we did not need his own statements as the chemical evidence he was wearing and over 200 witnesses would ably suffice; hence, the decision to Mirandize made no sense on a practical or strategic level. Additionally, Abdulmutallab’s family was key in gaining his cooperation, and in most cases the suicide bomber does not have a moderate Islamic family willing to work with the United States; in fact, the opposite is most often the case (as with the suicide bomber that killed seven CIA officers in Khost, whose wife applauded her husband’s actions).
I urge you, Mr. President, to consider the consequences of publicly disseminating sensitive information vital to the defense of the American people. I do not believe the American people want this information jeopardized to further political arguments. The American people rightfully expect the government’s first priority to be their security. It is also critical that our courageous law enforcement and intelligence professionals know that they can trust that sensitive information vital to their efforts to protect the American people will not be disclosed.
Christopher S. Bond
United States Senator
“…yes, I think an apology on that is owed because it’s not true. And I think anybody that was involved in knowing in the Senate Intelligence Committee what was briefed and what was reported would know that that wasn’t violated. …”
Should we await Kit Bond’s apology with bated breath? [sound of crickets]
Yeah, right, and Glenn Beck is gonna start speaking something other than random phrases from a teabagger manifesto.