December 27th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
6 months ago

Napolitano: No indication of wider plot in botched airline attack

(CNN) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday there was no indication so far that a botched terror attack on a U.S. airliner was part of a broad international effort.

"Right now we have no indication that it is part of anything larger," Napolitano told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

A lone suspect allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Detroit, Michigan on Christmas Day.

The device apparently failed to detonate and the suspect was subdued.

Napolitano said the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was on a broad security watch list that contains "half a million" names and is shared with airlines and foreign security agencies. However, a lack of specific evidence prevented him from being classified as a greater security risk that would bar him from travel to the United States, she said.

"You need information that is specific and credible if you're going to bar people from air travel," Napolitano said.

Despite a possible tragedy, Napolitano said the response system worked as passengers and crew avoided panic and subdued the suspect while authorities notified other flights in the air of the situation and kept the air transport system operating.

"The whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly," Napolitano said.

Security screening has been increased in the wake of the incident, with different procedures at different airports to prevent predictability, Napolitano said.

"While we continue to investigate the source of this incident, the traveling public should be very confident of what we're doing now," she said.

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. DingDong

    Blame Bush on this. This has nothing to do with brother
    Obama. He is on vacation.

    December 27, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. penobscot

    there will be more ploys to take the heat of this nonsense healthcare plan and "surge" to waste American dollars. Instead of nonsense ventures as this cereal box healthcare plan which will be just like Bush's medicare drug plan...both BS, this surge will break us financially too. The money need only be put into "wasting" violent criminals and terrorists and getting rid of defense lawyers. It sure costs a lot less for electricity to fry violent humans in the electric chair as shown in the "Green Mile", than to waste money on nonsense designed to supposedly help Americans such as the nonsense Obama keeps letting himself succumb to...

    December 27, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  3. daveM

    Good questions in the interview...

    To me, Ms Napolitano seemed to not have the information, and worse.,she did not show sufficient concern that a plane could have been taken down by terrorists.

    December 27, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. republicans hate america

    Bush was president when 3000 americans were murdered. he did not keep us safe.

    December 27, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. penobscot

    and keep those sponges dry on the heads of those set to fry in OLD SPARKY. That surely will thwart terrorists from doing their "thang."

    December 27, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  6. Swishbone

    Mr. Obama is an "internationalist". His campaigning in Europe in 2008, his bowing before Islamic jihadists in Cairo, his failure to condemn Jihadists attacks on U.S. military targets in the U.S., his close association with Bill Ayers who bombed our capital building in D.C., his 20 year association with African Nationalist Jeremiah Wright, his refusal to call terrorism "terrorism", his closing of Guantanamo, all point to a man who DOES NOT HAVE THE BEST INTERST OF AMERICA IN HIS HEART AND SOUL.

    December 27, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. Artie

    Dear old Janet woulbn't know a terrorist incident from a pillow fight !

    December 27, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. JamesJ

    I have absolutely no confidense in the empty suit

    December 27, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Hammerer

    Napolitano would not know a plot if it bit her on the butt. All she knows is Americans that do not agree with the present administration are evil.

    December 27, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. penobscot

    anyone wonder why this latest terrorist wasn't "offed" by now, instead of being sent to the American hospital to get his burnt pecker salved up so it would heal paid for by American taxpayers? This is a barometer devised by the Obama admininstration to see if the terrorists from Gitmo to be tried in NYC will not be shot on the street by "Jack Ruby" types when going to the court to have their "trials".

    December 27, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. Swishbone

    Hendrik – If Mr. Obama will invite the bomber of the U.S. Capital to his inauguration and let him sit in a prominent place Mr. Obama will do anything. Including betray the national security of this country.

    December 27, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Fed Up

    Yeah, Ok. Whatever. When will we get someone competent in this administration? Funny that the TSA leaks its files. This has never happened before, until this administration. HMMMMMM.

    December 27, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. Chad

    She acts as if this is no big deal. Bottom line is this guy got on board a plane with explosives flying to America. Mark this down as a failure to keeping our country safe.

    December 27, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Peter

    So how is a lapse in security at the Amsterdam airport by Dutch authorities Obama's fault?

    By the way, we knew a step-up in terrorist activity was going to happen after the election of a new President. It happened with Bush. It would have happened with McCain if he were elected.

    December 27, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. John Wiederkomm

    So far, Al Qaida has been a lot smarter than the US Homeland Security, CIA and FBI. How would the Secretary for Homeland Security know what AlQuida is up to? The fact is they don't. Our TSA security people are the low IQ, least educated of all working people. To expect anyhting more than sloppy work is a pipe dream by the US Goverenment. Once more, leave it up to the US Government and you will get hurt. Who cares anyway?
    JW

    December 27, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Charlotte

    Hey, FedUp – you and other dummies still can't stomach the fact that it was not under THIS administration that nothing was even noticed until two trade towers were in flames. Don't blame the current administration for your shortcomings, you obvious Rethug – but you should be asking hard questions how the previous one was so pathetically dimwitted on its watch as to actually allow the biggest strike against our country since Pearl Harbor.

    December 27, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Swishbone

    Janet appears to be writing CNN "news" stories. This was a "botched" attack ? I believe most Americans believe this was an "attack" that just didn't bring the plane down. Shame on CNN.

    December 27, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. penobscot

    The Empty Suit is the best name for the Chosen One to date...

    December 27, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. Black Viper

    Anytime a terrorist attack is botched in the US the right Wing Aka American Talibans goes nut.
    They hate this president so bad that they looks for any smoke even if it is their own farting to declare fire.

    December 27, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Swishbone

    penobscot – I don't think Obama's suit is empty. I believe the suit is actually stuffed full of contempt for America.

    December 27, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. Chris

    I love the twisted, backwards thinking of the neo-cons on this. Because this failed attack happened during Obama's Presidency, it supposed to show he's a "wimp". Yet when the identical circumstances happened with the failed Shoe Bomber attack under Bush's watch, it supposedly shows how he "protected" us.

    That's the trouble with Right Wingers, they have zero consistency and display such a blatant double standard.

    December 27, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  22. Mo

    I have flown between Detroit and Amsterdam every month for over 7 years on NW/KLM planes. From experience, I can confirm the security in Amsterdam is significantly better than the security in US airports. The magnetometers and X-ray machines/technicians in Amsterdam routinely detect things that the US machines/technicians don't. The Dutch screeners more often have me open my laptop bag to have a look at all the electronics I have stored in there. When they frisk you, they do it very thoroughly with their hands, to the point that I nearly accused a Dutch screener of being homosexual the last time I was frisked as he spent a little too much time checking my crotch.

    Apparently this guy was on a watch list; but there was not specific enough information to put him on the no-fly list. Being on the watch list, you would think this would guarantee him a thorough frisking and thorough bag search, but apparently these steps are not requested by the TSA?

    December 27, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. Swishbone

    "Right now we have no indication that it is part of anything larger," Napolitano told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

    Au contrar Butch – This IS IN FACT part of world wide Jidhadism.

    Why are the Obamists trying to minimize the horror and danger of this act of TERRORISM ?

    December 27, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. Paul H

    "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano"! JOKE!!!! This is how we take care of terrorist now. We actually let them perform the act, and get caught red handed! I mean god forbid we act on Intel of names collected on a list, or profile anyone. I mean we don't want to step on someones toe's or hurt someone's feelings.
    Hell let's stop checking people at airport's all together, I mean it's a big pain in the butt for everyone anyway. So what if a few terrorist get through the crack's, at least we didn't invade their personal space or take their rights away.
    Soft, and weak. That's what we have become again.

    December 27, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Sailorman

    Why does Janet Napolitano still have her job?

    December 27, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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