Obama: US agencies had intelligence to foil airline bomb plot

Published on WSWS, by Bill Van Auken, 6 January 2010.

In a brief public statement delivered after a White House meeting Tuesday with US intelligence chiefs, President Barack Obama acknowledged that the CIA and other agencies had all the information needed to detect the Christmas Day airline bombing plot, but failed to stop it.

“This was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had,” Obama said after meeting for two hours with some 20 top intelligence and security aides and advisors … 

… Each passing day, however, seems to present yet another “smoking gun.” They range from the revelation that the Nigerian’s father, a prominent banker and ex-minister, had personally visited the US Embassy and repeatedly contacted the CIA to warn them that his son had fallen in with radical Islamists in Yemen and was a “security threat,” to the admission that US intelligence had learned last August that Al Qaeda was planning to use a “Nigerian” in a terrorist strike against the US, to the recent report that British officials had passed on information about Abdulmutallab to their American counterparts before barring the Nigerian from reentering the United Kingdom.

Then there is the flight itself, in which the young Nigerian was allowed to board the airplane having paid cash for his ticket and failed to provide any contact information, while bringing only a carry-on bag for the transatlantic trip.

The official story that the failure to intercept Abdulmutallab in the face of all these red flags was merely an intelligence failure or a “screw-up,” as Obama reportedly termed it in the closed-door meeting, is hardly credible.

Why were decisions made not to act on any of this intelligence, and who made them? Nothing in Obama’s statement provided even a hint of an answer to these questions.

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration used the supposedly ubiquitous threat of another terrorist attack as justification for the two wars it launched abroad, as well as its sweeping attacks on democratic rights.

The US intelligence agencies were at the center of this operation, feeding the White House with the ginned-up intelligence it required, using agents provocateurs to create phony terror plots, and arrogating to themselves the right to employ methods ranging from torture to assassination, rendition and unprecedented levels of surveillance.

Given this record, together with the evident tensions within the US state as it embarks on another military escalation, the question is whether elements within the national security apparatus decided to facilitate Abdulmutallab’s attempt, either to further their own interests in the internecine struggles in Washington or to provide another pretext for expanded war abroad and state repression at home. (full text).

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