Did Obama Consult Homeland Security Secretary on Day of Christmas Attack? Napolitano Says She Was in Contact with ‘President’s Office’

February 8, 2010 - 4:46 PM
Did President Barack Obama personally consult with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Christmas Day, when suspected al Qaeda terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate a suicide bomb aboard Northwest Flight 253?

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Did President Barack Obama personally consult with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Christmas Day, when suspected al Qaeda terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate a suicide bomb aboard Northwest Flight 253? Asked that question by CNSNews.com, Napolitano initially declined to answer and then, when asked again, said “we were in contact with the president’s office” that day.
 
The White House told news organizations on Christmas Day that President Obama had ordered heightened air travel security immediately after he was first briefed on the attempted attack at about 9:00 a.m. Hawaii time (2:00 p.m Eastern) on Christmas Day and that he was repeatedly briefed on the incident during that day.



In Jan. 20 testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, however, Napolitano testified that she had not been consulted in advance about the specific decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights—which took place on Christmas night about 10 hours after the suspected terrorist was arrested. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, FBI Director Robert Mueller and National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter all told congressional committees that they were also not consulted in advance about the Christmas-Day decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab.
 
On Jan. 27, Napolitano failed to attend a hearing on the Christmas Day attack held by the House Homeland Security, the committee that has principal oversight over her department. Senior Democrats on the committee publicly scolded her during that hearing for her failure to attend.
 
On Feb. 4, Napolitano met privately with the Democratic—but not Republican—members of the committee. After that meeting, she also met privately with Rep. Pete King (R.-N.Y.), the committee’s ranking Republican.

When she emerged from her Feb. 4 meeting with committee Democrats, CNSNews.com asked Napolitano: “Madame Secretary, did the president personally consult with you at all in real time during the day of the Christmas Day attack about the Abdulmutallab situation?”
 
Napolitano said: “I’m not going to talk about my conversations with the president.”
 
Later, after her meeting with Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), CNSNews.com asked Napolitano: “Before I was asking you about if you spoke to the president at all on Christmas Day about the Abdulmutallab situation--not the nature of the conversation. I just want to know if you spoke to him.”
 
Napolitano said: “Yes, we were in contact with the president’s office.”