No one seems to have noticed, but John Brennan, a high-ranking counterterrorism official in the Obama administration, recently castigated Republican critics of the White House as "playing into Al Qaeda's strategic effort," reprising an anti-dissent argument frequently used by the GOP during the Bush years:
The president’s statement that there was a “systemic failure” [to detect the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Flight 253] did not quell the political furor, and White House officials were caught off guard by the intensity of the criticism. After reading a Cheney statement that attacked Obama for only pretending to be at war with terrorists, David Axelrod angrily wrote a long statement trashing the former vice president and gave it to Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, who revised it and posted on the White House Web site. The criticism got Brennan’s back up too, particularly coming from some of his former colleagues in the Bush administration.
“A lot of the knuckleheads I’ve been listening to out there on the network shows don’t know what they’re talking about,” he told me after the Christmas Day attempt. Some Republicans, including Cheney, were blatantly mischaracterizing the record, he fumed. “When they say the administration’s not at war with Al Qaeda, that is just complete hogwash.” It was the angriest I had heard him during months of conversations. “What they’re doing is just playing into Al Qaeda’s strategic effort, which is to get us to battle among ourselves instead of focusing on them,” he said. [emphasis added]
Brennan's comment comes on the heels of an even more explicit attack on anti-Obama dissent by Salon's Joan Walsh, who smeared Republican criticism of Obama as "un-American" and "traitorous" on MSNBC. These statements suggest that White House and its supporters are starting to adopt the same disreputable tactics that were used to stifle criticism of the government during the Bush administration. It's a discouraging trend.