What the devil?
Time for speculation (this being a blog). Maybe this is the CIA's way of letting the AQAP guys know they have a mole in their midst. Instead of picking off a low level ordnance guy they allow them to go through an internal struggle wondering who the infidel might be, causing division, all while still roiling over the loss of al-Quso, the Cole suspect. If so, well played guys.
The CIA might also be letting America know that indeed, the war on terror is not quite over yet. Or perhaps they were letting Axelrod know. David Petraeus is the DCIA--we haven't heard much about him since he got to Langley. He seems to be an out-of-the-boxer.
Or, Obama might just be releasing some catnip to the media. But that wouldn't really comport with his get out of Afghanistan and reap the peace-with-terrorists dividend.
Meanwhile, apart from these package bombs the investigative bodies have yet to announce what caused UPS flight 6 to crash in the UAE back in September 2010, several months before the package bombs became a story. The general notion is that the lithium batteries shipped as cargo on board caught fire and the FAA has issued directives on handling such things. But we've yet to be told how the fire started. The flight originated in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP took credit. The government pushed back. No probable cause released yet.
The trickle continues. It appears the CIA might have been tipped by a partner intel service, or at least that's the current narrative. I found this funny:
Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said counterterrorism officials had said of the bomber: “We don’t have to worry about him anymore.” He is alive, officials said, but they would not to say whether he was in foreign custody.Sounds like he was rendered somewhere (shhhhh, don't tell the left). This was also a bit weird:
Mr. King, of the Homeland Security Committee, said information on the unfolding case had been “tightly held,” without the usual briefings for members of Congress on continuing operations until Monday. He said officials “were shocked that this had gotten out” before the announcement planned for Tuesday.In other words, while the administration was saying there were no credible threats of a May 1 anniversary attack they were running down a credible threat involving underwear but couldn't trust briefing the House Intelligence Committee. Sounds rather Bushian. But no worries, Obama did it, so all is well. The leak also sounds Bushian. Thing is, it was passed to AP at least a week ago if not longer but wasn't printed until today, so it really didn't work as planned. Presumably.
Peter King is questioning the administration as to how they downplayed, or some would say lied, regarding the question as to whether any threats existed relating to the anniversary of whacking bin Laden. The admin is using some Clintonesque lawyer-talk to say they didn't mislead anyone. Technically this, specifically that. OK.
Maybe they had to--as they said the plot was supposedly ongoing. But is there the slightest possibility they didn't want the AP to run the story before May 1 because it might throw water on the surprise trip to Afghanistan to announce the way forward? Or were they afraid that all the credible threat stories boiling through the media might dampen the euphoria of the gutsy call and all the media specials planned? Just askin.
THE INSIDER 5/8/12
Like the aftermath of the bin Laden raid,the administration is being forced to trickle out more details to keep the media and certain yahoo bloggers from over-speculating, or even charging them with "electioneering". I think today's revelation that the insider who tipped on the underwear also gave up al-Quso changes the dynamic--it certainly suggests they had to remain silent before the drone attack lest al-Quso get spooked and head for the cave. As with all this GWoT stuff, Churchill's quote always applies, which makes things hard to figure sometimes. In the end it turned out to be a pretty good day for the good guys.
Perhaps the only questions left are, 1) what happened to the would-be suicide bomber? The govt is saying he is "no longer a threat" but the Bush boys would never have gotten that by the press, 2) would the AP have granted a similar request to stand down from a president Bush or Romney and 3) who initially leaked the plot to the AP, and why?
Scott Shane and the Times rides to the rescue with some answers, including calling the would-be suicide bomber a "double agent". From reading their story it would appear the only thing double about him is that he was working for Saudi Intelligence as an 'agent' while helping the CIA, and had infiltrated AQAP. They didn't refer to him an 'asset', which would be an AQ guy recruited by an intelligence agent. A true double agent would be an AQ guy also working for our side, which this doesn't seem to fit here.
While this explains why they couldn't provide information about him or his whereabouts, and explains why they wanted the AP to wait for publication, it doesn't really explain the comments made just recently that the double agent was "no longer a threat". As described by the Times he was never a threat--he was working for our side all along. Actually, it was Peter King who characterized the agent as no longer a threat; Brennan basically said he was 'never a threat', which sounds more consistent. But did King misspeak or did someone tell him the agent was at one time a threat? For someone to be 'no longer' a threat they would have to have been a threat at some point, an important distinction. It's hard to believe they are manufacturing this stuff as they go, so let's assume King was a bit sloppy with the explanation (or they were trying to misdirect).
Anyway, there's your answer to question one. Question two is an unknown and always will be. As to question three, the Times story says that government officials "plan an investigation" into finding the leaker. Hmm, what's Patrick Fitzgerald doing nowadays?