News / USA

US Intelligence Officials to Obama: Message Received

A top United States official says intelligence agencies "got" the message after President Barack Obama lashed out at them following a failed attempt to blow up a U.S-bound plane on Christmas Day, December 25.

Following a meeting with Mr. Obama, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair promised to "outwork, outthink and defeat" new terrorist tactics and said intelligence agencies will do what is necessary to prevent future terrorist attacks.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama said the failure to stop the plot to bring down the plane was a "screw-up that could have been disastrous."  He said U.S. intelligence agencies had enough evidence to stop the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from boarding a flight from Amsterdam to the U.S. city of Detroit but failed to make the necessary connections.

Mr. Obama has asked for specific recommendations to correct the intelligence failures.  He also promised changes to airport security and screening protocols, and said the nation's no-fly and terrorist watchlists were being updated.

Mr. Obama ordered the reviews to determine how Abdulmutallab could have brought explosives onto the U.S.-bound flight - even after the suspect's father warned U.S. officials about his son's radical views. 

Despite the criticism, the president's aides say the focus is on solving problems, and not on assigning blame to any one intelligence official.

Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said it revoked the U.S. visas of a number of individuals, including Abdulmutallab's.  A department spokesman said the action was the result of the ongoing White House security review.

The U.S. government has increased security screening for people traveling "from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism," listed by the State Department as Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria -- as well as "other countries of interest" -- Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

Also Tuesday, Dutch prosecutors said they did not find any evidence that Abdulmutallab had accomplices at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, where he departed for the U.S.  The prosecutors said that after studying more than 200 hours of security camera footage, it appears the suspect already had the explosives with him when he arrived at the airport from Nigeria.
 

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