Thursday, January 7, 2010

Obama counterterrorism aide took leave after Christmas attack

President Obama's remarks on a new report about the Christmas Day bomb plot have been pushed back to 4:30 p.m., the White House just announced.

One official is taking heat for going on vacation a day after the attempted terrorist attack.

Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center since 2007, did not return to his office until "several days after Christmas," the New York Daily News reported.

"People have been grumbling that he didn't let a little terrorism interrupt his vacation," said one of the Daily News sources.

Denis McDonough, chief of staff for the National Security Council, defended Leiter, saying that in the days after Christmas, he "engaged in regular, repeated and extended classified discussions with the White House" and other officials involved in investigating the incident.

Leiter -- who was appointed by President George W. Bush -- took six days of annual leave "only after explicit consultations with both the White House and the director of national intelligence," McDonough said. He said it "did not affect in any way his ability to remain engaged with all elements of the United States government."

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