Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, said Monday the Obama administration still needs to explain before Congress its mishandling of the Christmas Day bomber and that its “crazy,” post-arrest comments have erode the confidence of Americans.
Mr. Vitter’s sharpest criticism was directed at Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and her comment after the failed Dec. 25 bombing of a U.S.-bound flight that “the system worked.”
“Clearly, those initial comments were crazy,” he said during an interview with The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show. “Clearly, she was out of touch with reality.”
Mr. Vitter, a conservative facing re-election this year, didn’t call for Ms. Napolitano’s resignation but said her comments have “eroded confidence” and the decision about whether she remains on the job belongs only to President Obama.
Ms. Napolitano has attempted to clarified her comments by saying she meant that officials were alerted immediately after the bombing attempt and security measure swiftly were put in place.
Still, Mr. Vitter wants Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to give a clearer explanation about who assigned a U.S. lawyer to alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and who authorized reading him Miranda rights.
“If it wasn’t someone on the level of Eric Holder, then something is wrong,” Mr. Vitter said. “And if it was, that was a bad, bad decision.”
Mr. Vitter said Mr. Abdulmutallab’s decision to stop providing information after being told he had the right to remain silent was a “perfect illustration of why this policy is a huge mistake.”
The Nigerian-born Mr. Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam as it approached Detroit Metropolitan Airport by injecting chemicals into explosives concealed in his underpants.
Mr. Abdulmutallab, who authorities think has links to al Qaeda, has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He has entered a not-guilty plea and is being held in a federal prison in Michigan.