US agencies should have thwarted jet bomb plot, says Obama

Click to follow
The Independent US

A fuming President Barack Obama bluntly asserted last night that the American intelligence community had failed to "connect the dots" ahead of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of a jetliner on approach to Detroit and that the system that is meant to prevent terror attacks had fallen down, "in a potentially disastrous way".

Mr Obama, emerging from a meeting with his top homeland security and intelligence aides, revealed that the US had been aware of "other red flags" regarding the suspect in the case, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is believed to have been dispatched on his mission by a group associated with al-Qa'ida in Yemen. It was already known that his father had warned US officials in Nigeria of his fears that his son may have become a threat.

"The US government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt it," the President said in a statement to the press. "But our intelligence community failed to connect the dots." He went on: "I will accept that intelligence by its nature isn't perfect... but it is increasingly clear that the intelligence here was not fully analysed or leveraged... that is not acceptable and I will not tolerate it."

The President meanwhile cautioned against any assumption that he would delay or cancel the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. It will be closed, he said. Earlier in the day, the US announced it was suspending the transfer or prisoners from the camp to Yemen because of concerns about the security situation there.

The Yemeni government yesterday showed what appeared to be irritation with the US posture by trying to play down the threat emanating from its territory. It was responding in part to the closure over the weekend and on Monday of the US and British embassies there.

"There is nothing to fear from any threats of terror attack," the Interior Ministry said in a statement. "Security is good in the capital and the provinces, and there is no fear for the lives of any foreigner or foreign embassy."

Mr Obama said he had ordered his team to finish reviews this week on what went wrong in analysing the intelligence and in updating the watch-list system for air travellers who may pose a threat.