Published January 28, 2010
Republicans are slamming President Obama for glossing over national security in his State of the Union speech, and omitting any reference to how his administration is handling terror detainees.
Obama spent about nine minutes on national security issues in a 70-minute speech dominated by talk on jobs and a recovering economy. He made little mention of the of failed Christmas Day bomb attack aboard a U.S. airliner or the administration's decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York civilian court -- much to the dismay of Republicans.
"The president last night in his State of the Union speech ignored national security," former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said in an interview with Fox News. "He spent something like a page and a half on what was a 14-, 15-page speech on national security, as if it's an afterthought."
"It was a footnote to the speech," he said.
But the White House on Thursday pushed back against such criticism, saying Obama has made national security a top priority during his first year in office.
"It should be obvious to those that watch the president that national security is critical to him," White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters. "He wakes up every morning thinking how to keep America safe. He laid out several things last night in the speech."
Obama made no reference in his address to the administration's decision to try Mohammed -- as well as four other Guantanamo Bay detainees with ties to 9/11 -- in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The controversial move will allow Mohammed and his alleged cohorts to be tried like American civilians, and the trial itself will make public classified information on U.S. intelligence gathering.
"I think it's one of the worst decisions he's made as president," Giuliani said.
Republican lawmakers on Thursday also blasted Obama for making only a brief reference to the failed Dec. 25 bomb attempt aboard American Airlines flight 253 -- which was carrying 300 people.
"We've made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives," Obama said of the plot.
"We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence," he said. "We've prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula."
Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions criticized Obama for the brevity of his remarks, saying in a statement Thursday, "One of the biggest headlines from last night's speech is what the president did not say: a single word about the botched interrogation of the Christmas bomber and (Obama's) quest to provide foreign terrorists with the same legal rights as the Americans they target."