One almost felt sorry Sunday for White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
He was questioned closely by Chris Wallace on the administration's decision to treat the man who allegedly tried to bomb that Detroit-bound jetliner as an ordinary criminal defendant. The result of that was Umar Abdulmuttalab got a lawyer and clammed up.
Brennan refused to discuss that, instead suggesting, as Mike Emanuel noted, that the man might later agree to talk as part of a plea bargain. Asked what the downside would have been to treating him as an enemy combatant and turning him over to the military and CIA for questioning, Brennan said, and I am not making this up: "There are no downsides or upsides in particular cases. What we're trying to do is to make sure we apply the right tool in the right instance. In this case, we made a determination that he should be tried in U.S. criminal court."
He never explained why that determination was made. That's the problem here: The administration can't explain the downside of the approach they didn't take and they haven't even tried to explain the upside of the approach they did.
One suspects that's because the upside is that criminal defendants can be put in U.S. jails, eliminating the need to find a place for them while Guantanamo Bay is being closed. Indeed, closing Guantanamo Bay has emerged as a driving force in the Obama counterterrorism strategy.
— Brit Hume is the senior political analyst for Fox News Channel.