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On Actionable Intelligence

What don't we know while he's being silent?

4:33 PM, Jan 5, 2010 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab provided "usable, actionable" intelligence upon his capture on Christmas Day.

On Actionable Intelligence

Robert Gibbs said today UFA provided "usable, actionable" intelligence.

If Gibbs is telling the truth, why did the president, three days after the attack, call it the work of an "isolated extremist?" Did Abdulmutallab provide "usable, actionable" intelligence about himself? If not, why didn't President Obama know about this intelligence and why didn't he understand that the Christmas bombing was not the work of an "isolated extremist?"

Also, if we got "usable, actionable" intelligence from Abdulmutallab almost immediately, without knowing much about him and his activities, what didn't we learn because he lawyered up?

Think about how much the public has learned about the attack, its perpetrator and his associations since Christmas Day. The U.S. intelligence community has learned vastly more. There are literally dozens of questions to put to Abdulmutallab now, based on new information, and there is good reason to believe he knows much more than he told us. There are dozens of questions that the U.S. intelligence community did not know to ask because they were so clueless about the attacker and his association.

Abdulmutallab apparently told the FBI that there were many others who would be following in his footsteps — who are they? How does he know this? How were they trained? Who is directing their efforts? Where is their base? What other techniques might they employ? Who recruited him? What were his contacts with Anwar al Awlaki?

We can ask those questions now and his response — on advice of counsel — will be silence. And why would he answer differently? We told him he has the right to remain silent.