Washington (CNN) - To understand how the suspect in the botched terror attack was able to board a plane, you have to understand how the counterterrorism system that President Obama says failed is supposed to work.
The president says the clues were there, and that a fuller, clearer picture of 23-year-old Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab would have emerged if all the bits and pieces had been shared and put together.
"The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America," Obama said.
The president has ordered a top-to-bottom investigation of the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. The preliminary report is expected Thursday.
One of the key questions is why wasn't the suspect's visa revoked.
(CNN) - The White House is responding forcefully to former Vice President Dick Cheney's comments Wednesday that are sharply critical of President Obama's response to the botched terror attack on Christmas Day.
"It is telling that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the Administration than condemning the attackers," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House's official blog. "Unfortunately too many are engaged in the typical Washington game of pointing fingers and making political hay, instead of working together to find solutions to make our country safer."
The response comes hours after Cheney delivered a blistering statement saying the administration's response is proof that the president "is trying to pretend we are not at war."
"He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won't be at war," Cheney said in the statement. "He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won't be at war. He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won't be at war."
Honolulu, Hawaii (CNN) - Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh was taken to a Honolulu hospital with chest pains Wednesday, a show staffer said.
"Rush was admitted to and is resting comfortably in a Honolulu hospital today after suffering chest pains," Kit Carson, the chief of staff for the Rush Limbaugh Show, said.
A source at the Queen's Medical Center told CNN that Limbaugh was admitted late afternoon in "serious condition" and is expected to stay overnight.
The hospital itself would not confirm or deny that Limbaugh was taken there.
Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the Honolulu Emergency Services Department, would only say that a man was taken from the Kahala Hotel and Resort at 2:41 p.m.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Lawmakers will start 2010 with a hefty to-do list thanks to a lot of unfinished tax business they left on the table in 2009. The chief example: the estate tax.
Senate Democrats failed to reach a deal with Senate Republicans to temporarily extend the estate tax into 2010, when it is scheduled to be repealed for one year.
But that doesn't necessarily mean there won't be any tax on inheritances in the year about to start.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, D-New York, have said they will try to get it reinstated for 2010 after the new year.
(CNN) - Americans will usher in the new decade less hopeful than they were at the dawn of the millennium in 2000, says a new national poll.
In 1999, 85 percent of Americans surveyed said they were hopeful about their own future, and 68 percent said they were hopeful for what the New Year boded for the world.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Thursday found 69 percent of Americans hopeful for their future, and 51 percent hopeful for the world.
Full poll results [PDF]
The survey polled 1,160 Americans. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
Compiled by Alison Harding
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: 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, according to two Congressional officials familiar with the sessions.
New York Times: Shadow of 9/11 Is Cast Again
The finger-pointing began in earnest on Wednesday over who in the alphabet soup of American security agencies knew what and when about the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up an airliner.
CNN: White House forcefully responds to Cheney
The White House is responding forcefully to former Vice President Dick Cheney's comments Wednesday that are sharply critical of President Obama's response to the botched terror attack on Christmas Day.
New York Times: New York State Has First Deficit in General Fund
New York is about to achieve a dubious milestone: For the first time in history, the state’s main bank account is poised to end the year in the red.
Washington Post: Rep. Murtha's earmarks lead to fewer jobs than promised
Murtha, 78, the chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, has been dubbed the "King of Pork" because he is the House member with the most requests for earmarks, funding added by lawmakers without going through normal reviews. Murtha has defended the practice as a way to create jobs in this hard-hit former coal-mining region.
Washington Post: White House visitors log reflects Obama agenda
Tens of thousands of people poured through the White House in September, including many who visited as part of organized outreach by the Obama administration to particularly important constituencies, according to visitor logs that were released Wednesday.
HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) – Powerful Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) fired back at former Vice President Dick Cheney for slamming President Obama's response to the attempted terror attack in Detroit as too weak.
"That's nonsense," Inouye told CNN. "I think, I hate to say this, but I think the former Vice President lost all of his credibility by the way he's been conducting himself. I would expect a person with the potential of leading this country to be a bit more responsible."
Inouye, who as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee hold sway over all defense and homeland security spending, said Obama handled the incident in a "proper fashion" by not commenting too quickly after the attempted attack on Northwest flight 253.
"Well he could have spoken five minutes after but that wouldn't be responsible, not knowing what the facts were," said Inouye. "Why should you instill fear and scare [people] when something is not justified? So I think he did the right thing."
Cheney released a written statement Wednesday morning charging that Obama was not doing enough to defend the country.
"As I've watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war," Cheney said in the prepared statement. "He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war."
(CNN) - While the two might never face each other on an election ballot, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton narrowly edges out former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in one new poll: Americans' most admired woman.
In a new survey by Gallup, 16 percent of Americans named Clinton as the woman they most admire, while Sarah Palin won the admiration of 15 percent. Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and first lady Michelle Obama come in at No. 3 and No. 4 with 8 percent and 7 percent respectively.
Other women making the list with 1 percent each include former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, poet Maya Angelou, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Tiger Woods' wife Elin Nordegren.
"Hillary Clinton has now been named Most Admired Woman 14 times since 1993, spanning her career as first lady, New York senator, and now secretary of state," Gallup states. "The three times she has not finished first during this time, she earned second place (to Laura Bush in 2001 and to Mother Teresa in 1995 and 1996)."
Meanwhile, President Obama is clearly America's most admired man this year, with 30 percent of those surveyed naming the new president. Former President George W. Bush comes in a distant second with 4 percent while former South Africa President Nelson Mandela scores 3 percent in the poll.
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.