Obama expects accountability for "catastrophic" breach in security
Dec 29, 2009, 21:59 GMT
Washington - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday slammed his intelligence community for an almost 'catastrophic breach' that nearly brought down a US airliner on Christmas Day, and promised accountability for the failure to stop the plot before it began.
'There was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security,' Obama said in a radio message from vacation in Hawaii. 'We need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake.'
Obama has ordered reviews of flight screening procedures and an investigation into how the government deals with people suspected of terrorist ties. Obama said the White House expected preliminary findings by Thursday and a fuller review in the coming weeks.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, has been charged with bringing explosives on board Friday's Delta/Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit and trying to blow up the plane as it was nearing landing.
Abdulmutallab had been on a low-level US government database of about 500,000 people suspected of terrorist ties, but was never placed on a much more restrictive no-fly list. His father, a Nigerian businessman, warned US officials in the country last month that he believed his son had become radicalized.
Obama said the intelligence community should have been able to connect the dots, and acknowledged Abdulmutallab should never have been allowed on a plane to the United States.
'When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been ... a systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable,' Obama said.
Obama warned that, as he awaits the results of the inquiries, he would 'insist on accountability at every level.'