On December 26, two days after Nigerian Omar Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to use underwear packed with plastic explosives to blow up the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight he was on, and as it became clear internally that the Administration had suffered perhaps its most embarrassing failure in the area of national security, senior Obama White House aides, including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and new White House counsel Robert Bauer, ordered staff to begin researching similar breakdowns — if any — from the Bush Administration.

“The idea was that we’d show that the Bush Administration had had far worse missteps than we ever could,” says a staffer in the counsel’s office. “We were told that classified material involving anything related to al Qaeda operating in Yemen or Nigeria was fair game and that we’d declassify it if necessary.”…

Axelrod, who has no foreign policy or national security experience beyond occasionally consulting with liberal or progressive candidates running for political office in foreign countries, has been actively participating in national security briefings from the beginning of the administration. He has also sat in on Obama’s “war council” meetings, providing Obama with suggestions in both venues based on what he knows about polling and public opinion data, say several White House sources.