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Did Brennan and Napolitano Have Advance Warning of the UK Arrests?

Now that I’ve fetched Mr. EW from his 48 hour trip to Philadelphia from Dublin, my entire family will be in one place for the next day or so, so don’t expect much posting from me in that period.

But I did want to point to this detail about the alleged terrorists arrested the other day in the UK: they were allegedly plotting to hit the US Embassy.

The U.S. embassy in London was a target of a group of men arrested last week in Britain and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and preparing acts of terrorism, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.Twelve men were arrested on December 20 in what British police said were counter-terrorism raids essential to protect the public from the threat of attack.

Which brings me back to my point of the other day: the possibility that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did not know of the investigation and arrests before they happened. One possibility I suggested, for example, is that the British didn’t share details of the investigation with us because they had been burned (by Dick Cheney and Jose Rodriguez) in the past.

Only, this detail sort of extends my point. While it’s clear John Brennan and Janet Napolitano knew of the by then widely-reported arrests by the time Diane Sawyer asked James Clapper about them, had they known the US Embassy was a target (and that the news would be published in the next few days), they probably wouldn’t have claimed there was no tie between those terrorism arrests and threats to the US. Indeed, there’s some indication the entire government had no clue about that fact, given that ODNI’s statement about Clapper suggested that Clapper wasn’t immediately briefed because it didn’t appear there was a “homeland nexus.” Now maybe “homeland nexus” is a weasel way of saying we no longer consider our embassies overseas–not even the one in our closest ally’s capital–to be a target (if so, someone should tell Ahmed Ghailani’s lawyers, and all the other terrorists convicted in the US of striking US embassies overseas).

But the more likely possibility, given what Brennan, Napolitano, and Clapper have said is that the US–the entire government–was left out of the loop on this investigation. That’s certainly Britain’s prerogative. You never know when some Dick Cheney figure is going to sabotage a British investigation on them, after all.

But it does seem to be a notable data point.

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