Politics

Obama Ordered Covert War In Yemen Before Bombing Attempt?

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In a story about a White House adviser being briefed about the underwear bomb technique in October comes this tidbit at the very end…

White House officials say President Obama has been keenly focused on the Qaeda threat from Yemen for months. As the NEWSWEEK story reports, the president has authorized a covert war in the country: when Yemeni jets bombed Qaeda targets on Dec. 17 and 24 (including a strike that tried, but failed, to kill al-Awlaki), the United States supplied intelligence, missiles, and military support. American spies and special forces are on the ground, assisting the Yemenis.

So we were actually helping hit al Qaeda targets in Yemen even before we were attacked?

A logical first question…could the underwear bomb be considered blow back? I think it’s safe to say that the answer is “no” based on some additional intel about Anwar al-Awlaki. Because, as many of you already know, he has become a key figure in recent months and this has apparently been in the works before we tried to get him…

Al-Awlaki, who had had contacts with two of the 9/11 hijackers, is the same imam who had been exchanging e-mails with the U.S. Army psychiatrist who later killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas. He is a now central figure in the Detroit investigation: prior to the Christmas incident, the National Security Agency had intercepted communications between a phone used by al-Awlaki and Abdulmutallab, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells NEWSWEEK. The official says that al-Awlaki may also have been involved in other intercepted communications indicating that Al Qaeda was planning to use an unidentified “Nigerian” in an attack over the holiday season. As NEWSWEEK reported on Friday, U.S. intelligence officials at a White House Situation Room briefing on Dec. 22 presented President Obama with a document on pre-holiday terror threats called “Key Homeland Threats.” But a senior administration official said there was no mention of Yemen in the written briefing document. The official would not say whether Yemen was discussed at the briefing.

Still, I think it’s clear at this point that the CIA/FBI were asleep at the wheel when it comes to the watch list situation. Because the administration was obviously addressing the threats posed in Yemen, but somehow Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was still able to make it onto that plane. Thankfully crisis was averted and we can learn from this mistake instead of mourning it.

More as it develops…