Obama: U.S. Intelligence Failed to ‘Connect Dots’ on Airliner Plot
President Obama spoke late this afternoon about his meeting with top national security advisers about a wide-ranging review he ordered of the homeland security and intelligence systems. The message was clear: the U.S. government’s intelligence and air travel security systems failed when a bomb was smuggled onto a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, and must do better.
The president told reporters at the White House the security lapse didn’t have to do with the collection of information but with the failure to analyze what was there. The bottom line, he said was that the government had “sufficient information to uncover this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack.”
Mr. Obama said that the American intelligence system had enough information to thwart the alleged bomb plot attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but that the intelligence services did not connect the right dots in order to deny Abdulmutallab access to the plane.
“Our intelligence community failed to connect those dots which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list,” he said. “This was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already have.”
The president said he wanted “specific recommendations for corrective actions to fix what went wrong.”
“I will accept that intelligence by its nature is imperfect, but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully leveraged,” the president said. “That’s not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it.”
Congress is also planning to address the failed bombing plot with the Senate Judiciary Committee and others expected to hold hearings on the issue.
Watch President Obama’s full statement, including his reiteration of his plans to shutter Guantanamo Bay detention center, here: