As you know, it seems there was some level of intelligence failure in the Xmas Bomber case. Our key intelligence agencies didn’t piece together several different shards of evidence which may at least have led to Abdulmutallab to get a closer screening in Amsterdam and maybe caught before he boarded. But as I’ve read more into this I’ve found that there’s been at least some level of media failure, in that I’ve had a hard time finding in one place all the different things that we allegedly knew.
Now, clearly, it’s going to be very hard to find out officially and on the record just what was known. But I’ve wanted to find in one place all the things that credible news organizations have claimed this or that arm of the US government knew. And here are two examples of things I’ve come across in the last couple days but had not heard more widely.
For instance, from almost day one we’ve known that Abdulmutallab’s father visited the US Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria to warn US officials that his son had gone off the deep end of Muslim extremism and was a danger. But this article Time says it wasn’t just that he was becoming an extremist. He had actually threatened to blow up a US airliner. What Time doesn’t make clear is whether that threat specifically was communicated to whatever US officials he spoke to at the Embassy — which would be very interesting to know.
Then there’s this piece in the Times which quote “two officials” claiming that in advance of the attack, US intelligence had intel from Yemen that people in the local branch of al Qaeda were talking about a “Nigerian” who was being prepared for a terrorist attack.
Now that’s the kind of fact, if true, that you’d want to have seen matched up with the father’s tip-off.
In any case, obviously, I’m not surfacing any new information. These reports both appeared in extremely widely read publication. And probably many of you know all about these two reports. But I’m going to try to pull each of these alleged shreds of evidence into one place and in that one report try to take some stock of how reliable each seems. I think only then can we have a good conversation about just what we knew and what we should have been able to do with this information.
So, here’s where I need you help. Aside from the fact that the dad went to the Embassy and that he bought a one way ticket, what are the other key facts that have been alleged? Especially ones that maybe you saw in one publication but haven’t seen discussed more widely. And in the case of these two claims — the ones above from Time and the Times — do you know of other publications that have reported the same thing and seem to be independently reported? In other words, cases where another news outlet seemed to have the same nugget of information and wasn’t just picking it up from Time or the Times?
Please send us what you’ve found and err on the side of sending too much. On our end we’re going to try to aggregate all of it together into one post.
Late Update: On your emails, please use the subject line: “Piecing It Together.”
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.