Obama says security system failed in flight plot
U.S. President Barack Obama said the intelligence community had enough information at its disposal to prevent an attempted attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day but "failed to connect the dots."
Obama said Tuesday that the country's security system failed in a "'potentially disastrous way."
Obama made his statements after meeting with several top officials to discuss the security and intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from Nigeria to smuggle an explosive device onto a Detroit-bound plane.
He said intelligence agencies had collected enough information to warrant putting Abdulmutallab on a no-fly list. But he said there were problems in bringing that information together.
He said he expects the initial reviews of what went wrong to be completed this week.
Attempted attack leads to tighter security
Since the attempted attack, the government has added dozens of names to its lists of suspected terrorists and those barred from flights bound for the United States.
Earlier this week, the Transportation Security Administration directed airlines to use enhanced screening techniques, including body scans and pat-downs, to assess U.S.-bound travellers from 14 countries considered sponsors of terrorism or "countries of interest."
The U.S. State Department lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. The countries of interest are Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, CIA director Leon Panetta and FBI director Robert Mueller were among the 20 high-level officials believed to have met with Obama in the White House.
Obama received updates on the investigation from Mueller, on Abdulmutallab’s prosecution from Attorney General Eric Holder and on the review of terrorist detection techniques from Napolitano.
Counterterrorism adviser James Brennan also updated the president on his own review of the system of watch lists and outlined his initial findings.
With files from The Associated Press