ABC News even had a photograph.
So what do readers of the St. Petersburg Times know about underwear bombs as of today?
Putting "underwear" and "bomb" together in the search window at the Times' online Web site drew a page and a half of hits, but nothing about the recent attack.
A second search using "Flight 253" and "bomb" produced a pair of hits:
The first hit was apparently a set of blurbs on the main page. No relevant information was available on the page by the time I checked.
The second hit was fresh, dated Dec. 30. The story goes into the background of the would-be bomber, and only near the tail end of the story (inverted pyramid, anyone?) do we get a small set of curious details.
Why curious? Read for yourself:
Detroit: About noon Friday, officials say, Abdulmutallab tried to ignite an incendiary powder mixture he had taped to his leg as Flight 253 made its final approach to Detroit. He is being held at the federal prison in Milan, Mich.For all we know, Abdulmutallab really did try to ignite an incendiary power mixture that had been taped to his leg. If other reports prove reliable, then he apparently succeeded in igniting something. Perhaps the "incendiary powder" was supposed to ignite his explosive underwear in turn.
We know from the opening paragraph that Abdulmutallab was charged with trying to bomb the airliner. But the story leaves unclear the fact that he may well have had the means to accomplish his task save for a malfunction. Incendiary powder does not sound particularly threatening. Unless one takes the additional step of calling it a bomb. Firecrackers are filled with incendiary powder. But a firecracker set off in the cabin of a jetliner probably would not cause it to crash.
Almost a week after the incident and this is the type of detail we get?
I was able to locate one other well of information in the Times, courtesy of a story borrowed from the New York Times.
The latter newspaper took a relatively hard critical line, using the title "Questions on Why Suspect Wasn't Stopped."
The St. Petersburg Times was kinder and gentler: "Airline security takes renewed urgency." And if that renewed urgency includes some lax application of procedures as part of an effort to confuse potential purveyors of man-made disasters, no doubt it's all good.
In the know, baby.
Dec. 31, 2009: Added a paragraph explaining the image of two search results.