Obama says intelligence failed to connect the dots

Obama says intelligence failed to connect the dots

Obama says intelligence failed to connect the dots

President Barack Obama speaks in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, Tuesday about plans to thwart future terrorist attacks after an alleged terrorist attempt to destroy a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas Day. AP Photo

"Elements of our intelligence community knew that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had travelled to Yemen and joined up with extremists there.It now turns out that our intelligence community knew of other red flags: that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula sought to strike not only American targets in Yemen but the United States itself," Obama said on Tuesday.

"We had information that this group was working with an individual who we now know was in fact the individual involved in the Christmas attack," said the US President in a statement soon after his meeting with the top national security and intelligence aides.

Obama had convened a Security Room meeting of his top intelligence and security aides to review the security breach and intelligence failure in the December 25 plot in which a Nigerian national, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, successfully sneaked in explosive inside the a US plane, but somehow failed in igniting it.

Some 300 people were on board the North West Airlines plane coming from Amsterdam to Detroit.

"The US government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas-Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list," a visibly upset Obama said.

"In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had. The information was there.

Agencies and analysts who needed it had access to it, and our professionals were trained to look for it and to bring it all together."

Now, I will accept that intelligence by its nature is imperfect, but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analysed or fully leveraged. That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it," he said issuing warning to his intelligence agencies.

"Time and again, we've learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary. So we have to do better, and we will do better. We have to do it quickly. American lives are on the line," he said.

Obama said he has asked his team that he wants initial reviews completed this week."I want specific recommendations for corrective actions to fix what went wrong. I want those reforms implemented immediately, so that this doesn't happen again and so we can prevent future attacks," he said.

Sending a tough message, Obama said: "I know that every member of my team that I met with today understands the urgency of getting this right, and I appreciate that each of them took responsibility for the shortfalls within their own agencies."

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