President Barack Obama has acknowledged human and systemic failures led to a breach in security and the failed attempt to bomb an American-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
Emerging after meeting with his top security advisors, he attempted to limit the political fallout from the incident and vowed to act with all urgency to tighten air security.
“This was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand intelligence we already had,” said a resolute Obama. “The intelligence was there, the 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. I will accept that intelligence by its nature is imperfect, but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analysed or fully leveraged. It is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it.”
A number of intelligence blunders have caused a major outcry in the wake of the attempted attack, which was only averted by the actions of passengers and crew.
The blunders include the fact that the alleged bomber was already on a suspected terrorist list and that even his father had informed the US about his son’s extremist views.
Since December 25 security has already been tightened in the areas of screening for airline passengers. Full body “pat downs” are now being used on travellers from 14 countries considered high risk by the US. The move has provoked some anger; Cuba is the latest to object to its nationals being singled out for tougher security searches.