December 30th, 2009
04:16 PM ET
11 months ago

White House briefings leave Hill with 'unanswered questions'

The Obama administration conducted two secure briefings on Wednesday for Congressional staffers about the attempted terror attack on Northwest Flight 253 that left key aides with still a lot of unanswered questions about what went wrong.
The Obama administration conducted two secure briefings on Wednesday for Congressional staffers about the attempted terror attack on Northwest Flight 253 that left key aides with still a lot of unanswered questions about what went wrong.

HONOLULU (CNN) - The Obama administration conducted two secure briefings on Wednesday for Congressional staffers about the attempted terror attack on Northwest Flight 253 that left key aides with still a lot of unanswered questions about what went wrong, according to two Congressional officials familiar with the sessions.

One of the officials familiar with the briefings said the takeaway was that "there are still lots of questions Congress will be asking about what could have been done differently and what will be done differently in the future" to prevent attacks.

The official added that Obama officials who conducted the briefings told the Congressional staff that it "appears there wasn't enough negative information prior to the incident to take any severe measures" such as putting the eventual suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, on the No-Fly List to prevent him from boarding the plane.

The Congressional official said the two briefings occurred Wednesday morning in a secure room of the Capitol for key Congressional staffers because most lawmakers are traveling outside Washington because of the Congressional recess for the holidays. At least one lawmaker, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, was in Washington and did attend.

The first briefing was for Democratic and Republican staffers of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The second session was for a broader group of committees in both the House and Senate that included Intelligence as well as the Armed Services, Commerce, Judiciary, and Homeland Security panels.

The briefings were conducted by officials from various departments and agencies including: The FBI, the Justice Department, the Transportation Security Administration, the Customs and Border Patrol, the State Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In a sign of the Obama administration trying to coordinate its message on the matter, officials said that the White House will be conducting a conference call with Democratic press secretaries from the House and Senate on Wednesday afternoon.


Filed under: Congress • Obama administration
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. terry,va

    When are you idiots going to forget Bush? Clinton left him with a time bomb named OBL. Clinton should have taken him out, but let's fast forward. It's Obummie's charge to take care of us. The only thing he is interested in is taking care of is dead beats. If we get bombed, the rest of the stuff going on is like a pimple on an elephant. When is Obummie and his idiot lot going to accept accountability for anything?

    December 30, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Dick Cheney is a coward of the nth degree. We need to make sure that no more right wingnuts are elected in 2010.

    December 30, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  3. Tommygunn

    ENOUGH!!!!!!

    We are AMERICAN's that will do what it takes to keep us SAFE. What we won't do is run around FEARFUL like DICK CHENNEY. It is easy to talk CRAZY, but in AMERICA case we are VERY FOCUSED on APPLIED FORCE when appropriate.

    Talking SCARY like CHENNEY only provoke more reaction from the TERRIORIST than dealing with them DESCRETELY and THOROUGHLY.

    Capital Hill, wake up and quit whinning about the WH direction, you know everyone is on the same page with this one. Some are just trying to improvise on what they read.

    December 30, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    People from '1952' should really get the facts before they post untruths.

    December 30, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. unemployed by Obama

    Obama is the weak link in the chain. Obama calls the Muslim Jihad Extremist Terroist just extremist. Also its Obamas fault we are not putting qualified people in positions that could resolve this, Obama only wants to put his buddies in place. Obama is the problem and he doesnt know how to solve the problem except to make deals and smoke screens.

    December 30, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  6. Jane/Seattle

    STOP THE KILLING AND SEEK JUSTICE FOR ALL – feed, clothe and house the World. Herein lies your answers as to why folks want to kill Americans. and one another. RAGE is a terrible Result when unleashed.

    All the rest is so much Ignore-ance of the needs of ALL Peoples. It takes everyone to create peace and it takes Violence to Choose YOUR Enemies and fight then to the death! The rest is just Confusion for the Masses to swallow and never think straight! as so many miss the POINT! In making a just choice lies the Courage to risk the Wrath of the Wounded YOUR Weapons ARE Harming! Peace

    December 30, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  7. Dave, CO

    Angie, you get a life. You can go to Hawaii and be with Barack Obama. He has done nothing for our country. It is difficult to believe that we have a very in-experienced President and he does not want to learn anything.Perhaps he thinks that he knows everything.

    December 30, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  8. annie against biased news

    Gee, could it be that this administration has no clue as to what they are doing other than vacationing, jetting and spending. This whole sorry bunch needs to be impeached.

    December 30, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  9. Albo58

    Oh no, the lib loons can't use the old "Bush's fault" crap anymore! Oblame-o is President and has been for almost a year (though it seems like an eternity!) and it was he who hired this totally inept Napolitano! Furthermore, and I realise that national security isn't a social entitlement program, and I hate to interupt the $5 nassau, but it is sort of the President's job to defend the country. Thus, this public servant better get his butt back to work for us, his employers!

    December 30, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. Emma

    The angry Republicans and bloggers who do not miss a step in the dance to criticize the current administration and blatantly refer to Liberals as hateful are truly shameful. It is worrisome when so many in our country are destructive and blaming rather than reasonable and critical thinkers. The expressed love for Sarah Palin is an alarm sounding to our country and shows that many Americans are superficial thinkers who do not know how to discriminate between adept and incapable leaders. I guess I should stop reading the Ticker. So many of the comments are so mindless.

    If the Republicans were in charge of figuring out what went wrong with security to detect the terrorist and it took several days to complete an extensive investigation, would we be hammering them?

    December 30, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  11. cedgar

    The Pres promised when he ran we would get all of the departments working together so this type of incident would not happen. How long are we going to blame Bush for the hatred of the US. They wanted to blow us up in the 90's . You cannot talk nice to EXTREME HATRED and expect them to drop all the bombs and guns and say I now like the US because the President said we are going to be nice. WISE UP we are at war with someone that will try to kill us any way they can.

    December 30, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. andy

    What does congress expect? The White House has no clue. It's like Cheney said, they don't know we are fighting terrorist. The white house can tell you how to desroy democracy but nothing about terrorist.

    December 30, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  13. well there it is

    Now let me get this straight, Obama goes on TV saying there was an unacceptable breakdown in communications and that known information was not relayed between agencies, but Congressional officials are now saying that Obama's officials are telling them that insufficient evidence existed. I see the problem now, alternate realities exist in the White House. Unfortunately, both of Obama's worlds are the same, stop the lies.

    December 30, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Gerry NH

    This was a terroist attack not an attempted attack. The bomb went off but did not get the results that might have happened. This is the fault of the administration. The father turned over the son to the CIA and it never got put onto a no fly list. Our fault entirely.

    December 30, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. James

    Obama was on the White House lawn two hours after the Nobel Peace Prize was announced and it took him over 72 hours to address a terrorist attack?

    Now Congress cannot even figure out what Obama is telling them.

    Hillary, we need you to have a primary challenge against Obama in 2012. Community organizing is the only accomplishment he has.

    December 30, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    It's pretty simple with what went wrong the dude got on the plan without a pass port find out why and who broke the rules.

    December 30, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. valwayne

    This isn't the first recent terrorist attack the Obama Administration missed its the 2nd. Ft Hood was the first and Americans died in that one. The red flags were waving and the alarm bells were going off on both, but nothing was done. Does Obama really believe that spending money on the Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback are more important than installing complete body screeners in our airports? Does Obama really believe that spending hundres of millions of dollars on Circus Trials for mudering terrorists in NYC rather than military trials makes us more secure? Does Obama really believe that persecuting the intelligence agents that kept us safe after 9/11 and our hero Navy Seals is the way to keep us safe. "The System Worked" was the first response to this latest failed attack from the Obama administration! Doesn't that tell us all we really need to know?

    December 30, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Whoops miss spoke . but why did he get a visa

    December 30, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  19. Jeremy

    People seem to be stupid, ignorant, or seem to forget one important thing: BUSH IS NOT IN OFFICE! It is Obama's baby now. He and his administration should be taking the flak for this, not the people who are out of power. This is more of the same from the ignorant liberals: when in doubt, blame Bush. Maybe when you get a logical argument instead of spewing hate against anyone who disagrees with Obama will we listen to what you have to say. People are allowed to have differences of opinion. They should be allowed to speak, not be told "we won, get over it". If this is the way it is going to be, 2010 and 2012 cannot come soon enough so we can vote these clowns out.

    December 30, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  20. k

    Remind me again, which party had been in control for about 9 months on Sept 11, 2001.

    So I guess big "guv'ment" ain't such a bad thing, according to the republicans.

    December 30, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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