MI5 warned US about Abdulmutallab?

The Telegraph reports:

Britain told American intelligence agents more than a year ago that the Detroit bomber had links to extremists, according to Downing Street.

The prime minister’s spokesman indicated that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was named in a file of people based in Britain who had made contact with radical Muslim preachers. The file was said to have been sent to the US authorities in 2008.

White House sources disputed the Downing Street account, stating that no such intelligence information was passed by Britain before the attempted Christmas Day attacks. The White House declined to respond officially.

Now everyone is backpedaling, with the US admitting that it did get information and the UK denying that any of it was actionable:

Barack Obama is under pressure to disclose what information MI5 passed to the American authorities about the Detroit bomber after Downing Street disclosed that a file had been “shared” with the CIA in 2008.

After initially denying that they had received British intelligence, senior American sources confirmed last night that they were “reviewing” what British information had been received on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. . .

A US counter-terrorism official did not deny that information on Abdulmutallab had been received from Britain but told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s wrong to think that there was, from any source, information that identified Abdulmutallab as a terrorist, let alone a terrorist who was planning to carry out an attack in the United States.”

Yesterday morning, the Prime Minister’s spokesman issued a revised statement that said: “There is no suggestion that the UK passed on information to the US that they did not act on.”

As far as the intelligence goes, I think the only way to read this is that the UK gave the US some intelligence that included Abdulmutallab. Like most intelligence, it was probably of dubious quality and was dismissed by US intelligence. But given how we disregarded other warnings about the guy, including one from his own father, it seems reasonable to wonder if we should have put things together.

More interesting, however, is what the kerfuffle tells us about relations between the White House and Downing Street. The president snubs of the prime minister and the State Department’s loose talk about ending the “special relationship” with Britain have clearly taken their toll. Don’t forget, this is called “smart diplomacy”.

(Via Power Line.)

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