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John Brennan rails on Dick Cheney, explains 'systemic failure'

John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrism aide, offered a strong rebuke of Dick Cheney's criticism and suggested that post-9/11 intelligence-gathering networks still can't bring all the relevant information together.

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John Brennan, President Obama’s top terrorism adviser, rallied to the defense of the administration Sunday, taking on critic-in-chief Dick Cheney and explaining the deep-seated “systemic failure” that Obama mentioned in comments last week.

Mr. Obama has come under heavy criticism from Republicans since an attempt to blow up Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit failed on Christmas Day, primarily because the man charged in the incident, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was on a US terrorism watch list.

Mr. Cheney has arguably been the most pointed in his criticism of Obama, declaring last week that the president “is trying to pretend that we are not at war” by his decision to delay any public comments about the attack for several days and by changing some Bush-era antiterrorism policies.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Mr. Brennan said the former vice president was either lying or ignorant. "Either the vice president is willfully mischaracterizing this president's position – both in terms of language he uses, and the actions he's taken – or he's ignorant of the fact.”

Brennan, who noted that he has worked for presidents of both parties, said he was “disappointed” by the partisan reaction to the Christmas bombing attempt.

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