Perhaps the Most Uncomfortable Underpants Bomb Ever

January 05, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

President Obama is scheduled to meet this afternoon at the White House with his top security advisers to get the results of their inquiries into the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed Christmas attack. It’s an open question whether he’ll learn what Mark Hosenball at Newsweek reports:

Two intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security circulated a paper within the government last fall which examined in some detail the threats which bombs secreted in clothing — or inside someone’s body cavities — might pose to aviation security, Newsweek has learned from US national security officials who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information.

The report, which was prepared by the National Counter-terrorism Center in conjunction with Homeland Security and the CIA, did not specifically warn that such bombing tactics would be used in any particular kind of forthcoming attack, such as the attempted Christmas Day underpants bombing of a transatlantic airliner. Nor did it even specifically mention “underpants,” the officials said.

According to Hosenball, an account of a rectal device came to the attention of the administration about two months ago, soon after the administration received reports of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s attempt on a Saudi prince’s life using such a device, but before Abdulmutallab’s father came to the U.S. embassy in Abuja afraid that his 23-year old son was falling in with an extremist crowd. Baroque as the report appears to have been — it discusses how the body of a suicide bomber would most likely absorb most of the blast of a bomb placed in someone’s anus — it also looks to be another fragmentary piece of intelligence that looks relevant to the failed plot in hindsight.

The Department of Homeland Security tells Hosenball: “