Saturday, Jan 2nd, 2010
President Barack Obama received a high-level briefing only three days before Christmas about possible holiday-period terrorist threats against the US, Newsweek has learned. The briefing was centered on a written report, produced by US intelligence agencies, entitled “Key Homeland Threats”, a senior US official said.
The senior Administration official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that nowhere in this document was there any mention of Yemen, whose Al-Qaeda affiliate is now believed to have been behind the unsuccessful Christmas Day attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bring down a transatlantic airliner with a bomb hidden in his underpants. However, the official declined to disclose any other information about the substance of the briefing, including what kind of specific warnings, if any, the President was given about possibly holiday attacks and whether Yemen came up during oral discussions.
According to the senior official, the holiday threat briefing, one in a series of regularly-scheduled sessions with top counter-terrorism officials, was held in the White House Situation Room on December 22. Present were representatives of agencies involved in counter-terrorism policy and operations, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The CIA and National Intelligence Directors Office were represented by deputy agency heads: CIA deputy director Steven Kappes, and David Gompert, the principal deputy to National Intelligence Czar Dennis Blair. Also present was Michael Leiter, director of the National Counter-terrorism Center, a unit of the Intelligence Czar’s office which was created after 9/11 to ensure that intelligence reporting about possible terrorist plots was shared quickly among all US agencies who might have some capability to do something about it.
The senior official said that beginning in early December, based on reports coming in from intelligence agencies, policy-makers had begun tracking a stream of information which alluded to a possible holiday-period plot against the US orchestrated from somewhere in Pakistan. However, the official said, this reporting later turned out to be “garbled” and it was determined that the threat probably was a washout. The official denied that the White House received any report, representing the concensus of US intelligence agencies, warning that a Holiday-period plot originating in Yemen and targeting the US homeland could be in the works.
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This article was posted: Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 5:10 am