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White House Takes on Critics of Terror Policy


President Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan says congressional critics, others speaking before getting facts

The White House is lashing out at Congressional critics of the administration's policy on terrorism. President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan says these critics are playing politics with national security.

"Quite frankly, I am tiring of politicians using national security issues, such as terrorism, as a political football," Brennan said.

During an appearance on the NBC television program Meet the Press, Brennan said congressional critics and others are speaking before getting the facts. He said they are making charges with no basis in reality, and, in so doing, are endangering the reputation of the men and women trying to keep the country safe.

"I think they have to have confidence in the knowledge and the experience of these counter-terrorism professionals," he added.

The level of criticism has reached new heights in the weeks following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines jet as it was preparing to land in Detroit, Michigan.

The case of the alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is being handled in civilian court. That has brought an outcry from Republicans, including the newest member of the U.S. Senate, Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

"And the message we need to send in dealing with terrorists is our tax dollars, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them and not lawyers to defend them," said Brown.

But Brennan told NBC that all terrorists arrested on U.S. soil are tried in civilian court, whether or not they are American citizens. He stressed the same process was used under the previous administration of President George W. Bush.

"So the procedures and protocols were exactly consistent with what we have done before," Brennan noted.

During the interview, Brennan was also asked about the threat posed by hackers seeking to infiltrate computer networks.

He called the threat serious and significant.

"National security is something that is at risk. And that is why what we are trying to do is ensure that our networks - our government networks, our private sector networks - have the ability to withstand these attempts to hack in and to conduct activities," he explained.

In recent days, there have been reports that the Internet search company Google has turned to the U.S. intelligence community to help track down threats to its operations in China. The White House will only say that companies facing cyber-security threats should deal with the proper authorities.

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