December 27th, 2009
10:00 AM ET
4 years 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. Mike in Texas

    Didn't this flight come from Europe? I thought so. Weren't the 9/11 flights domestic? I thought so.

    Shoe Bomber/Christmas 2009.

    Why are you Obama haters commenting. Same thing people, international flight to the U.S. So please STFU!!

    Thank you.

    December 27, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Richie

    Life is dangerous. Stop all this TSA nonsense. For God's sake, people, you don't need "terrorists" to kill you, you have plenty of drunk and stoned drivers working on doing that.

    December 27, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Cammie

    America, it is time for us to unite for one common person--TO TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!!!!!!

    2010 will be the year Americans STAND UP!

    December 27, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. cherie

    This terrorist was well known to the international community.
    He was barred from entering Britain due to his terrorist connections and one should ask why was this man allowed to come to America.
    Liberals like to call it fear mongering when reminded of 9/11 but lest we forget.
    It should scare us all to think that Napolitano is in charge of Homeland Security , she doesn't have a clue and her senseless drivel made her lack of knowledge obvious.

    December 27, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Hugo

    Not to worry America if these Al Qaeeda thugs are smart enough and organized enough to pull off another attack on US soil surely it will be Bush and Cheney's fault and Cheney's continual warnings will be the root cause of an attack. The major mistake of the liberal is to underestimate Dick Cheney's intelligence, I don't think there is anyone in the present Administration that even comes close to his ability or dedication, however dark it may be....

    December 27, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Hugo

    Clinton's failure to kill Osama Bin Laden during a hunting expedition resulted in the ability of the terror plot to be carried out on 911. Instead to cover up a BJ in the Oral office Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Africa suspected of manufacturing pixie dust! Kind of like look over there America health care reform a historical achievement for a historical President while the job market continues to crumble! The negative Obama support on this site is beginning to be indicative of the majority of educated America, just like the BB King song, The thrill is gone baby!

    Liberals you just gotta love em'!

    December 27, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. hughglass

    I think that Obama and his brilliant, super qualified, apolitical, HS czar Napolitano are doing a bang up job! I just hope that the attack by a confused, misunderstood black, islamofacist, member of the religion of peace and love doesn’t deter them from their stated goal of pursuing the folks who are the real threat to America. i.e Americans of evil intent, as described in a memo by napolitano’s DHS..” (as) “right-wing extremists” concerned about illegal immigration, abortion, increasing federal power and restrictions on firearms — and.. (particularly).. war veterans …." That’s what the obamatuer administration is all about..keeping an eye on our war veterans and pro lifers!
    Hopefully, our First Engagementarianist will continue to ensure our security by relentlessly pursuing right wing extremists at home and not waste any time on the crazy notion, fabricated by Fox News and right wing talk radio, that peace loving muslims, who in obama’s own words, have contributed so much to civilization, are a threat to America. He must continue to offer his hand in reconciliation to Al Quada and the muslim terrorists. Additionally, It would probably help if he would apologize to the Islamofacists for everything America has done over the last 300 years and beg their forgiveness, at least a couple of times a week. As I suggested, doing a bang up job!

    December 27, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Concerned American

    What a laugh on TV the airports showing tighter security searching
    young American girls...the mandatory searches should take place on all muslims, arabs & all people from other countries not Americans...also, I might add, that Nigerian should have been caught on ground by airport security. no excuse! And, this all would
    have been prevented if the US took action after the father's warning
    a month ago, again no excuse! Janet Napolitano cannot make such
    a statement that the Nigerian acted alone, she needs schooling on
    Homeland Security....Now, this is the 2nd. terrorist attach against
    the US, the 1st. being the muslim that killed our soldiers at Fort
    Hood..Obama is giving the muslims more support than Americans...

    December 27, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. retiredchip

    Why even listen to Janet. Talk about clueless. This is the lady who thinks border security is just fine and our country is safe. OK, so no big buildings have had planes flown into them. Come up to Northern California (we think a little diffrent than our cousins in the Bay Area and points south). Try to take your family onto a national forest. You get to see huge pot grows guarded by illegal aliens (OK, Mexicans here illegally) that are hired by the cartels. She's out to lunch, like the rest of the folks inside the 'beltway'. And this is not a Demecrat/Republican thing. Bush was no better securing our country.

    December 27, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Russ

    This is just absurd. The only way to avoid an attack like this is to make everyone strip down to the buff and enter the plane that way. Fit them with bags and catheters and make them stay in their seats for an entire trip. The world is full of stupid ignorant and sick individuals and at any time one of them can try something like this. Tens of millions of people fly every year on hundreds of thousands of flights, there will always be a risk.
    The truth is that it is more dangerous to drive to the airport than to fly in the plane. No matter who or what is on the plane.

    December 27, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. Tony

    WOW! What an amazing interview! Ms. Crowley did not let up. She asked questions we all have and more I wanted answered but didn't think of. The Secretary didn't answer Ms. Crowley's questions at all, but Ms. Crowley kept coming at her.

    John King is very analytical and tries to cover all sides of a story, but he's not as hard hitting. Ms. Crowley should take over State of the Union. With Ms. Crowley in charge I'd be willing to give up Meet The Press. Great job Candy! Do what Ms. Brown says she is all about, but never quite accomplishes: Keep Them Honest Candy!

    December 27, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Mlhall

    President Obama can not be every place and that is why we have people working these jobs. So put away your hate for this man he is still going to be the President until he die. I know a few of you hate him because of the color of his skin but guess what God made him just as he made you and God don't make mistake.

    December 27, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    Did anyone notice that both the Ft. Hood attacker and this guy had been indicated in 2007 and 2008?


    December 27, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. Florence

    What exactly did Candy Crowley expect when she asked why we are reactive instead of proactive? The reality is when something happen we do tend to reactive and the trick is how quickly we react. I thought her question was not based on reality. Ex: when a nutjob take hostage in the post office or bank do we ask people to stop going to the post office or bank. Do we require the post office or bank to do cavity searches on people before letting them in. No, so what does she think the US should do about a man getting on an airplane with explosives sewn in his underwear. Should authorities start cavity searches? I don't think so!! No matter how careful we are there will be some who get through and the best we can do is act quickly when that happens to prevent further damage. I for one, i'm not looking to x-ray machines screens or cavity searches at the airport. If that happens I will be driving until they decide to do the same on greyhound or amtrak.

    December 27, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Death Panel Sarah

    TO' jules sand-perkins' :

    Sorry, but the 'movie star president' was are again confused. Maybe you should take your pill, now!

    December 27, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Death Panel Sarah

    To roig:
    Although the VISA was issued by the US Embassy in London(in 2008), and his father came forward 3 months ago(2009), the fact remains that the airport security in Amsterdam is NOT TSA, it is the govt. of the Netherlands. We have limited input as to their security checks. TSA is OUR govt.'s security. It operates in the U.S.
    This is not Obama's failure, as he has no control over the Netherlands!!!(911 was a domestic flight)

    December 27, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. retiredchip

    After I wrote my first post, it dawned on me. Most Americans are under the delusion that our goverment (local, state, federal) can protect us from thieves, rapists, murderers, cartels, whatever. Luckily I am not. I support the Second Amendment and have no qualms about killing some bonehead that tries to hurt my family or friends. After being in lawenforcement my entire adult life, and seeing the quality of some of our protectors, I am glad I have the ability to protect myself and family. Unions have destroyed law enforcement. Try to get rid of a bad cop. Try to discipline the constant screw up. The point being bad cops are bad for our security. As for that clown on the plane, he should have been killed. Dead bad guy, what a loss.

    December 27, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. JonDie

    But surely it must be Obama's fault.


    Sarah Palin
    Rush Limbaugh
    Dick Cheney
    Michael Steele

    aka "The Gang of Four Dimwits"

    December 27, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Death Panel Sarah

    To 'Fed Up' ....

    Are you saying that everybody at TSA lost their jobs in January and was replaced by 'Obama' personnel???

    Boy are you stupid!!!!!
    The SAME people are there now!!!
    Grow up!!!

    December 27, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Death Panel Sarah

    Hey Chad was in AMSTERDAM!!!!!

    What did our government have to do with it????

    December 27, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Nick in Virginia

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

    What in this woman' background made her qualified to run the Department of Homeland Security? It sure as hell wasn't statements like this.

    It is really hard to have confidence in someone who sees such "good" in an incident which avoided being a disaster simply because of the incompetence either of the accused terrorist Abdulmutallab, or of the bomb-makers who gave him his device.

    I'm afraid that if the bomb had gone off, brought down the plane, and killed all on board (and, depending on where it came down, maybe hundreds more on the ground), Napolitano would have said "but look at how neatly we have swept up the debris". Her priorities sure do not seem to be aligned with the serious nature of her job.

    I wonder who she has pictures of?

    December 27, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. well there it is

    Janet, you are an idiot. The press has been full of reports that the Northwest Airlines terrorist had ties to the same radical iman who advised the Ft. Hood shooter. The same iman reported to have been killed on Dec. 24th, 2009 during an airstrike. No correlation of events from this, what a maroon to quote her mentor, Bugs Bunny.

    December 27, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Debbie in VA

    No matter what side of the aisle anyone is on, don't you think her attitude was a little cavalier. What's the big deal, the other passengers stopped him and this woman is supposed to be protecting all of us left and right. The right is now attacking and the left is spinning, making excuses and pulling the race card. The big deal is that the flight originated in a very corrupt country. I was waiting for her to say that we would tighten up security from corrupt countries.

    December 27, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Russ

    Having read some of the previous comments posted on here it is obvious that the time is at hand to eliminate the holes in our security. The federal government HAS to immediately confiscate all weapons and potential weapons from every person who has or will demonstrate any anti-social or ad hominem behavior. Let's start with handguns and any other obvious weapon(guns, knives and anything that could be swung with enough force to hurt a person). Then fertilizers that contain nitrates. Grandma's nitroglycerin tablets for her heart condition should be on that list. Any motor vehicle capable of speeds above 10 miles per hour will have to be scrapped or "governed" to a lower speed.
    The list will be endlesss, and of course taxes will have to be doubled or tripled to pay for this endeavor (otherwise deficits will soar into the trillionS per year.
    The internet will have to shutdown since persons could easily use this to spread their nasty agenda around the world. Any large gatherings should be made illegal since these are easy "targets" or worse yet, venues for the enemies to meet and plan their heinous crimes.
    Since the government is woefully undermanned to launch and maintain this operation, a system to draft every man and woman for a period of public service will be a necessity. A new agency will be needed to conduct the necessary searches and investigations and the prison system will need to be expanded to accomodate the untold numbers of citizens who will undoubtrdly try to evade the new "system".
    Perhaps most importantly, we will need to suspend the Constitution of the United States since most if not all of the persons found in violation of the new way of doing things will argue that it is a violation of their personal rights and freedoms. So many pesky details!!!
    But it will all be worth it when we can be born, live and die without the fear or chance that some evil person could come to our house and wreak bodily harm on us.

    What? You say that it will be a cold day in hell before someone takes YOUR guns? Just remember, in todays world one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist!

    December 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. ib

    I am not a racist and I do want Obama to fail in his quest to protect our country because if he fails in that we all fail. I do want him to fail in his goal of taking away our freedoms with gov. controlled healthcare and his cap & trade which will cost jobs over an unproven theory but this woman should go; this person should have been on the no fly lists. Even his father tried to warn us six months ago about him and his father is not some no name. It's plain to see Homeland Security is not working under this woman. please get rid of her before someone succeeds in their plot against us.

    December 27, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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