The administration official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, says that nowhere in this document was there any mention of Yemen, whose affiliate of Al Qaeda is now believed to have been behind the Christmas Day attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bring down a transatlantic airliner with a bomb hidden in his underpants. However, the official declined to disclose any other information about the substance of the briefing, including what kind of specific warnings, if any, the president was given about possible holiday attacks and whether Yemen came up during oral discussions.
According to the official, the holiday threat briefing—one in a series of regularly scheduled sessions with top counterterrorism officials—was held in the White House Situation Room on Dec. 22. Present were representatives of agencies involved in counterterrorism policy and operations, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The CIA and the national intelligence director's office were represented by deputy agency heads: CIA deputy director Steven Kappes and David Gompert, the principal deputy to national intelligence czar Dennis Blair. Also present was Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, a unit of the intelligence czar's office that was created after 9/11 to ensure that intelligence reporting about possible terrorist plots was shared quickly among all U.S. agencies that might have some capability to do something about it.
© Janet Crain
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