The man who asked Chas Freeman to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Dennis Blair is the subject of an important piece by James Kirchick in the new issue of The New Republic. In addition to the Freeman failure, Blair’s other problems include: An unworkable relationship with the C.I.A., a history of ignoring orders from above, and (the biggest problem) the responsibility of the massive failure that allowed the 'panty bomber,' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, onto a U.S.-bound airplane on Christmas Day.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is pressing the Obama administration on questions about the handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomber, and makes some news in the process. McConnell notes that several top national security officials offered disturbing testimony yesterday on Capitol Hill about the decisionmaking process on Abdulmutallab -- or why there wasn't one. This leads McConnell to seek answers to "several troubling questions."
There is one reason that White House should be thrilled about the Massachusetts Senate race. It crowded out news that came out of the stunning testimony of Obama administration officials Wednesday on the Christmas Day terrorist attack. Four top counterterrorism officials testified before a congressional committee that they were not consulted about how to handle the interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the al Qaeda operative who attempted to blow up Flight 253 on December 25, 2008.
Anybody curious about how and why Yemen became a place where al Qaeda and other jihadist groups operate with apparent impunity--while its government claims to be a reliable ally of the United States--should simply look at a map of the Middle East. Throughout its history Yemen has been different from the rest of its neighbors. It is, in truth, a local pivot--but a permanently wobbling one. It now faces an existential threat, as radicals from within in its borders and around its neighborhood threaten to destroy it, with the apparent complicity of--or at least, a dangerous passivity on the part of--its rulers. In this it resembles that other strategic hub and Islamist target, Pakistan.