The underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is a
curious terrorist. He became disillusioned with his privileged life as the son
of a bank chairman and member of the Nigerian elite, it would seem. Rather than
pursuing his studies in London, he retreated to Yemen to learn the ways of al
Qaeda inspired terrorism.
Farouk was so indiscreet that his father
reported him to the U.S. Embassy as a potential terrorist in November. A
month later, he managed to get on a jumbo jet headed for Detroit to complete a
terror mission. Despite his training in engineering at the prestigious London School
of Economics, Farouk failed
in his mission. He couldn�t mix his explosives to achieve the desired effect. He
apparently forgot to detonate the explosive device in mid flight, waiting until
just before landing in Detroit to start his task. He retrieved and set off the
chemicals to create the explosion in full view of passengers.
What kind of terrorist is this? He doesn�t know when, how or
where to conduct his criminal enterprise.
Is this the best al Qaeda can do?
Is this the justification to for a media manufactured
scare-a-thon about the danger Farouk poses to our �freedoms?�
Or is this guy some sort of ringer in yet another moronic
Pardon my cynicism about the perpetual power structure but
there is a spectacular history of lying by those in power to further their own
Northwoods; the Gulf of
Tonkin incident; the perjured
testimony about babies thrown out of incubators used to justify Gulf War I;
the lies about
WMD before Gulf War II; and so
Few are willing to discuss deep conspiracies either
as a real phenomena or as an influence on our nation�s history. The inquiring
mind that wanders into that minefield is labeled a �conspiracy theorist� and
shoved to the sidelines of public discourse.
But Judith Miller changed all that. She was the ultimate bogus
conspiracy theorist who was endorsed and headlined by the New York Times. Who
could tell bigger lies better than Miller.
Game on -- January 4th
On January 4, 2010, Keith Olbermann ran a segment on
Countdown that featured our curious terrorist and the apparatus that somehow
missed him despite his concerned father�s pleadings. After the setup, current
insider in chief and apparent White House spokesman, Richard Wolffe emerged. He
provided some remarkable information from inside the White House deliberations.
�It�s clear the president is still
deeply concerned and troubled and even angry at the intelligence lapses. They
see this more as an intelligence lapse more than a situation of airport
security faults. Why didn�t the centralized system of intelligence after 911,
why didn�t it work.� Richard
Wolffe, January 4
Wolffe then asked and answered this question:
�Is this conspiracy or cock up?�
�It seems that the president is
leaning very much toward this as a systemic failure by individuals who maybe
had an alternative agenda.� Wolffe
�An alternative agenda�� what could that mean?
On the 4th, the answer to the question, �why didn�t it work�
was clearly on the side of the �alternative agenda� explanation. This was extraordinary.
Olbermann was like a dog on point with this question.
� . . . you suggested in there that the
administration is looking into perhaps mixed motives or misplaced priorities. .
. . Are people thought to have been deliberately withholding information so the
dots cant� be connected?�
Wolffe didn�t waiver and indicated that there was something
seriously wrong with the intelligence process, particularly concerning the November
intelligence gathered from Farouk�s
father. Watch the segment starting at 3:50 and decide for yourself.
Were we on the verge of finally having someone or some
faction held accountable for insulting the citizens of this country with
ridiculous excuses to expand this or that war or surveillance program, deny yet
more rights,and impose even greater surveillance? Not quite.
Game off (or is it) -- January 5
By the very next day, Wolffe was back with Olbermann to
revise the view from the White House.
�It�s closer to the cock-up rather
than the conspiracy I was talking about.� Richard Wolffe
The president�s view had changed after his all hands meeting
on the 4th . It was really just a screw up (cock up). There was to be
�no finger pointing� and the administration would be focus on preventing future
The denial of the original speculation by Wolffe lost
credibility the more he expanded on his message, as I understand him. He says:
�I wasn�t talking about, as some online
commentators have interpreted it, a political plot to embarrass the president
by allowing civilians to die. This really gets to the heart of intent versus
pure accident. An intent can be non malicious, it can be . . . a failure to
cooperate, it can be a lack of confidence in the system. Which the president
has concluded that�s where he�s at. Richard Wolffe, January 5
It�s difficult to understand how failing to report the
father�s warnings about his son, warnings that proved highly accurate, can be
without malice. Even if we rule out malice, it is impossible to argue that this
failure to inform was anything other than gross negligence.
�And one thing the president didn�t
refer to today, which is very revealing, which is what he picked out first in
Hawaii. The story of Abdulmutallab�s father going to the CIA in Nigeria and
telling them about the radicalization of his son and the fears about his son.
That information was not shared in the early reports was not shared. � Wolffe
Of interest, just after Wolffe moves the president back from
the precipice of an historic accusation of a malicious shadow government, he
reiterates the heart of the accusation of malice in the quotation above. It�s
the �CIA� that received the information and failed to enter it into the
terrorist information system(s).
After that explicit naming the agency guilty of �failure to
cooperate,� it is classic Obama:
�He doesn�t want this blame game
anymore. The president understands that can be corrosive. He want�s to look at
the how things can be fixed rather than the why they were broken in this case.�
What�s going on?
It�s important to understand that on January 4, a preferred
spokesman for the White House, Richard Wolffe, told us that the president was
leaning toward a conspiracy of malefactors who �maybe� let it happen, namely the Farouk mission. The motive
for their �alternative agenda� was never explicated but it was clearly there,
in living color commentary.
There has been little cogent speculation on what all this
means. One unlikely source emerged in the president�s corner (and rightly so if
he�s correct) was long time Obama critic Webster Tarpley. He noted:
�Wolffe offered two possible
explanations cited by his White House sources for the intentional sabotage of
security procedures, resulting in yet another egregious failure to connect the
dots. The first was a �turf war� inside the intelligence community, with one
agency seeking to hoard information and deny it to others. The second was the
desire to �embarrass� some leading figures, presumably referring to partisan
animus or other resentments against Obama and his top appointees.� Webster
Tarpley, January 4
This is a clear and accurate summary of Wolffe�s �conspiracy
or cock up� explanation on last Monday�s Countdown.
Tarpley went on to provide a third possibility:
�But Obama and his advisors should be
urged to consider a third explanation far more plausible than either of these.
This third explanation would include the desire of a rogue network inside the
US government to unleash a new wave of Islamophobic hysteria to rehabilitate
the discredited �global war on terror� strategy in a new and more sophisticated
form, while imposing a new round of outrageous and degrading search procedures
at airports (such as the full body scanners peddled by the venal Michael Chertoff)
to soften up the American people for heightened totalitarian control and
political repression. All of this, moreover, in ways that will be politically
harmful to Obama.� Tarpley
This is a logical extrapolation if you accept the White
House�s original belief that this was a �conspiracy� not a� cock up.� Admittedly,
it comes from the source of some of the harshest invectives against President
Obama. The fact that I disagree with many of these has little bearing on my
interest in Tarpley�s clearly stated third alternative to a possible conspiracy
masquerading as a screw up. Who else has said that?
For the purposes of raising questions and encouraging
speculation, it really doesn�t matter what Tarpley�s political sympathies are. Simply
consider the possibility that Obama was right on day one; that the initial
Wolffe message was a warning shot across the bow to those suspected of this
treachery; and, that the next day�s retraction was a means of seeming to keep
things under control.
One might argue that this is a reprise of Bush blaming the
CIA for the Iraq intelligence failures. There�s one important difference. It
wasn�t the CIA, it was Bush, Cheney, and then CIA Director George Tenant fixing
the intelligence and reports of honest analysts to justify a war. In this case,
the CIA is explicitly blamed. Very curious.
The failure to enter the information into usable
intelligence systems would seem to have alternative explanations. It could have
been the CIA as a unit that did it, as Wolffe stated as though it was fact. Or
it could have been rogue elements within the intelligence community doing this,
with malicious intent or deliberate negligence, to achieve the ends suggested
by Tarpley or broader analysis.
By tagging the CIA, the president via Richard Wolffe,
finessed the real question: Are there those in the government who deliberately
allowed an obvious terrorist, an incompetent one at that, to slip through the
system and, as a result, revive the entire apparatus of anti terrorism based on
one obviously incompetent individual?
Maybe President Obama dropped his deliberative style and turned
on a dime from Monday to Tuesday.
Maybe you can fail to enter the name of an obvious risk for
terrorism without any malice.
Maybe the president caved after taking a bold stance in
defense of sanity.
Or maybe he�s made his point for now and is regrouping to
Or maybe the huge error of failing to enter the name was
just a �screw up.�
And maybe there really were weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq as Judith Miller and the New York Times promised based on their stellar
Before we march down the road to ratify the permanent loss
of habeas corpus and other vital rights; before we spend even
more money on making travel truly unbearable; and, before we finally lose the
best elements of our society due to one incompetent terrorist, maybe we should
get the entire truth behind the fascinating revelations of Richard Wolffe. One
can only hope.
This article originally appeared in The Daily Censored.