The focus on Yemen

THE FOCUS ON YEMEN…. The claims have not yet been independently corroborated, but Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who apparently tried to bring down an airplane over Michigan on Christmas, has told officials he “obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda.”

The Yemeni connection was also apparently the thrust of a briefing given to key congressional lawmakers. One of them, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) of Michigan, who tried to politicize the incident shortly after it occurred, used Twitter yesterday to suggest the Obama administration has paid insufficient attention to Yemen.

Given that Hoekstra is the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, he probably should realize that the Obama administration is paying a great deal of attention to Yemen.

Yemeni forces, backed by the United States, launched a major attack Thursday on a meeting of senior al-Qaeda operatives thought to include the Yemeni American cleric linked to the suspect in the Fort Hood shootings, U.S. and Yemeni officials said. […]

[T]he U.S. involvement in the strike in southeastern Yemen — along with a similar strike in the country last week — appears to reflect greater willingness by the Obama administration to use military force in confronting terrorists outside the traditional war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week’s strike was seen at the time as the most significant example of the new approach, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the planning and execution of the attack.

The attack on al Qaeda in Yemen late last week — personally approved by President Obama — was executed with “intelligence and firepower” supplied by the United States, representing the widest offensive against Yemeni jihadists in years.

What’s more, as Faiz Shakir noted, “[B]oth Obama and his homeland security adviser, John Brennan, have cited Yemen as a key concern…. Despite Hoekstra’s desire to make a political issue of the terrorist attack, the evidence is clear that the terrorist threat emanating from Yemen has been a focal point for the Obama administration.”

If the reaction from right-wing blogs is any indication, conservatives are already in full-tantrum mode. (Gold star to the reader who can identify a prominent far-right site demanding U.S. officials begin torturing Abdulmutallab.) But as Matt Yglesias explained, U.S. efforts are proceeding as they should: “Al-Qaeda’s ideological support appears to be on the wane. The logistical capabilities displayed by things like this attempted airplane explosion are unimpressive. Military campaigns are underway against their hideouts in Yemen and Pakistan. Things are basically going fine.”