Abdulmutallab was able to carry explosives onto an international flight despite rigorous airport security screening ("Are you dedicated to dealing death and destruction to the United States and its allies, or are you just wearing a diaper?") as well as sophisticated intelligence gathering and analysis by the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and The Joint Congressional Underwear Oversight Committee. Counter-terrorism experts attributed Abdulmutallab's smuggling success to specially-designed "Hezbollah Happy-Face" boxer briefs and sophisticated counter-detechniques training provided by al Qaeda.
"We have the most technologically-advanced equipment and more trench-coats than Burberry's," said one CIA analyst, "but al Qaeda utilizes the most effective monkey-bars training in the world. We just can't compete with that."
The failure of the U.S. intelligence community to identify and neutralize the threat posed by Abdulmutallab's underpants are detailed in a report which was recently declassified by the Obama Administration. The nearly-insurmountable obstacles faced by the intelligence agencies included the following:
Direct communication from Abdulmatallab's family
Abdulmutallab's father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a well-respected Nigerian banker and former government minister, warned officials at the United States Embassy in Nigeria that his son had adopted "extreme religious views" and may have ties to terrorists in Yemen (Ed. Note: Absolutely, 100% totally true)1. At the conclusion of the meeting, embassy officials asked Alhaji Mutallab to "please spell 'Yemen.'"
Detailed files containing Alhaji Mutallab's statements, along with corroborating photographs, known associates, last known address, and Abdulmutallab's Twitter username ("@plastiqueinmypants") were compiled by the CIA, then stored next to Indiana Jones' Ark of the Convenant crate in a secure federal facility
When later told by U.S. government agents that his son had been arrested for the bombing attempt, Alhaji stated, "See? I fucking told you!"
Suspect on MI-5's 'radar'
British intelligence had been aware of Abdulmutallab's political involvement with extremist groups for several years, but had not passed that information with their U.S. counterparts2. When asked to explain the failure to share threat intelligence with American intelligence, British officials said, "We didn't want to be a bother."
Critics also say the State Department should have been alert to the threat after Britain denied Abdul Mutallab a student visa to attend a bogus institution. U.S. officials say British authorities never informed them that the visa was denied, although they describe cooperation between the two countries since the incident as "seamless."3 U.S. officials also expressed uncertainty about the meaning of the word "seamless."
Abdulmutallab's name on known associates of terrorists list, "Catch-all" TIDE list, Billboard's Top 40 Nigerian Radicals list, Crate & Barrel mailing list. List Abdulmutallab's name not on? No-fly list.
Lack of communication with MI-5 aside, "Abdulmutallab had been on a list of people with known or suspected ties to terrorism for at least two years," and his name "was on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list that is maintained by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center and contains people who have loose ties or possible links to terrorism. People on the list are not necessarily on the no-fly list, or those who are not permitted to board commercial aircraft to or from the U.S,"4 while the "U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency had information about alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab three days before his departure from Amsterdam to Detroit"5. Intelligence agency representatives have responded to criticism that U.S. taxpayers have funded Homeland Security efforts to the tune of $40 billion since 2001, in part to fund multiple terrorist "watch-" and "no-fly" lists that neither watch terrorists nor prevent them from flying.
"We view these lists as important tools," said a senior Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition that his name not be used because it could appear on a no-fly list. "These are tools the airlines need to maintain high airfares, force travelers to remove their shoes, and apply punitive measures against passengers who complain about overbooking, overcrowding, increasing baggage fees, and who ask to use the lavatory."
A private security consultant to major airlines, whose previous job was carrying former Vice-President Dick Cheney's soul in a secure briefcase, argued that the traveling public is being kept safe. "We are diligent about protecting American citizens," he said, "These lists are comprehensive, and the public can rest assured that no passenger aircraft will be attacked by Lee Harvey Oswald, Rhett Butler, Rosa Parks or Big Bird."
NSA intercepted communications
Roughly four months before the Christmas Day bombing attempt, the National Security Agency intercepted telephone communications in which al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leaders discussed the possibility of using a Nigerian bomber in an attack. The intercepts were shared with the National Counter Terrorism Center6, which shared the communications with the National Security Agency. NSA officials immediately shared that information with high-ranking officials at the NCTC.
"We shared those NCTC communications with the NCTC," said an NSA official. "They also shared our communications with us."
DNI-CIA "Turf War" may have impeded communication
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta have been engaged in a "turf-war" for months, which may have hampered interagency communications7.
"I told Director Panetta repeatedly that there is absolutely no evidence that Mark McGwire ever used steroids," said Blair, "Plus, anyone named after a sandwich-shop chain is a stupid-head."
Panetta responded to Blair's accusations during a speech at The North American Tulip Importer's Association annual meeting, saying "His mama is sooo fat that when she was in school she sat next to everybody!"
In a leaked White House memo, President Obama attempted to arbitrate the men's disagreements. "If you two clowns don't shut the **REDACTED** up and at least pretend to be adults," the memo stated, "I will dress you both in St. Louis Cardinals Klan robes and drop you off in the middle of South-Chicago." In a White House press briefing last week, President Obama expressed optimism that the two would be able to work out their differences and focus on gathering intelligence, adding, "I can't believe I actually wanted this job."
In response to the thwarted Christmas Day undies attack, Transportation Security Administration officials are working in conjunction with airlines to ensure that every traveler is "safe, secure, and going commando." Delta, Continental, and American Airlines, among other carriers, have pledged that beginning January 1, 2010, "no passenger will ever board one of our aircraft wearing underwear." A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, still the industry leader, expressed reservations about the practicality of such stringent security measures, stating, "Yuck." The proposed security enhancements received a major boost this week when Former President Bill Clinton pledged to lend his support to the cause. His recent diplomatic success with North Korea adds credibility, said Clinton. "I am prepared to personally examine every bra- and panty-wearing passenger in America," said Clinton, hastily adding, "But I'm not checkin' out any dudes' tighty-whities."
"That dog won't hunt!"