January 5th, 2010
04:54 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama calls Christmas Day attack an intelligence failure


Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama said Tuesday that U.S. intelligence has had considerable success, but that the botched Christmas Day attack shows "the system has failed" in a major way.

U.S. intelligence had uncovered numerous "red flags" prior to the attack, Obama said, but failed to connect the dots.

The government's inability to stop the attack does not represent a failure to collect intelligence, the president argued. Rather, it represents a failure to integrate different intelligence strands.

The fact that intelligence was not fully analyzed, Obama said, is unacceptable. The president called for reforms to prevent such an incident from recurring to implemented immediately.

Obama reiterated, however, his intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. obama the liar

    that's the first truth he's told since pre-election...with all those mental midgets he appointed to appear to be smarter, they have come back to haunt him and America.

    January 5, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. strong

    ".... an intelligence failure."

    Is that Orwell-speak? Sounds very big brotherish.

    Just say it was a dumb thing to do. We sheeple understand it better.

    January 5, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Dave C - NJ

    Just execute the fruit of the loom bomber..that's what Bush would have done! Oh wait....Bush dealt with the shoe bomber the exact same way...what was Newt saying again???

    January 5, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Hammerer

    With the leadership, or lack of, that Obama appointed to head these areas is there any wonder that they did not connect the dots. They are all appointees that are to pay bach political debts and/or to appease his wish to move to the extreme left.
    they do have one thing in common, including Obama, they are totally incompetent!

    January 5, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Obama = WORST president EVER

    Got that right. Obama's lack of intelligence!!

    January 5, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    I don't know, but I may say something that I thought I never said before.

    But maybe Dick Cheney is right. I mean, right in the fact that for some starnge and odd reason, we are hearing more attacks on our men(CIA, agents) than anyone else before. When Bush was around, I don't recall hearing attacks, let alone form out soldiers or agents. Maybe once in a great while but overall, I don't think is a lack of "intelligence", I think is a lack of competence.

    I don't appreciate that and I sure don't appreciate as hell how in the world where we got one of the most highly, sophisticated equipment in the world, and still fail? It just doesn't make sense.

    January 5, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. sophia catalano

    it is very hard to believe are president. for once could he be concerned and stop talking like he couldn't care less? this is serious! i don't want to know what we could have done, but we are going to do! he needs to step up.

    January 5, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    The intelligence failure was under the Bush Cheney administration. They are the ones with the big idea to merge 22 intelligence agencies but without a plan to integrate the intelligence gathering and review.

    Obama to the rescue of yet another failure of the Bush administration.

    January 5, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. sifto77

    I must have missed the part where he took responsibility as Commander-in Chief-Just targeted the intelligence community–praised Napolitano–What ever happened to "the buck stops here at the top"?. He never said he was sorry about undermining the "axis of evil". Bring back Bush and Cheney–with McCain thrown in............Who wrote the speech this time? Heaven help us......

    January 5, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Now comes the challenge:
    I have always learned more from my mistakes than from my successes, and I'm inclined to think I'm not alone...
    I can't imagine how many other aspects could have shown the serious flaws in out system, as regards our safety from terrorISM.

    This is the chance to take whole cloth of the failures, unravel them and take these threads of error to weave a tapestry of success.

    January 5, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Bassman

    Pres. Obama believes if he just tones down the rheroric against the terrorist, they will stop. The "underwear" bomber proves that stratagy does not work. Sarah Palin has it right as she writes on her Facebook:
    President Obama’s meeting with his top national security advisers does nothing to change the fact that his fundamental approach to terrorism is fatally flawed. We are at war with radical Islamic extremists and treating this threat as a law enforcement issue is dangerous for our nation’s security. That’s what happened in the 1990s and we saw the result on September 11, 2001. This is a war on terror not an “overseas contingency operation.”

    January 5, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Steph

    I appreciate that this president gives the American people an honest update on the situation. I trust he will work with the intelligence community to improve the system. Treating us with enough respect to give us the truth, admitting faults in the system and working immediately to fix the problems IS the change we voted for!

    January 5, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. Jon

    The failure should not stop at our intelligence but stop at the top of command. As soon as he elected, the president and his team purposely signal that we are no longer at war with terrorists around the world, closes Guantanamo facility, and moves offshore terrorists to our homeland. Given the fact that our intelligent personnel at CIA and FBI will be persecuted by OB and Holder's courts for their past and future intelligence activities, who would still work hard and intelligently to collect intelligence and protect the homeland?

    January 5, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Len in Washington

    This might sound a little cold ...but..If we really want to save the lives of Americans then we need to get them out of cars! Do a little digging here folks and you'll learn that 1000 times more people die from cars than terrorists EVERY YEAR so what poses the biggest threat to your family?

    Of course we should worry about terrorism but lets deal with realities and get our priorities straight.

    Your next door neighbor with a beer in his hand is the biggest threat to your family....bar none!

    January 5, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Tram

    My gosh... we have a president that tells the truth and doesn't try to distract the American people.

    We had 8 years of lies and misleadings and narcissism. Now we have a good leader.

    Nice change.

    January 5, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. donttreadonme

    Really??? I consider Obama's election an intelligence failure as well!

    January 5, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. John Boehner is like Cleopatra, only he bathes in Cheetos

    I am getting tired of the worthless liars of the republican party who are afraid of their own shadow.

    January 5, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Leslie

    Out intelligence communities are polarized, just like our Congress is. They're afraid that if they give to the other side (in this case, intelligence information) that it will somehow hurt them and elevate the "other".

    January 5, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. ugogrl

    God be with our nation Mr President. I know you are doing everything in your power to protect the American people from terrorists. Unlike Bush/Cheney this is their doing as far as this broken system. This is certainly not your fought either. Cheney, Palin, Demint, and Gingrich need to put a sock in it! for real

    January 5, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. VON BISMARK -Vienna

    The failure might been on purpose judging from the way the GOP is politicising the issue of national security.

    Enemies of the house?

    January 5, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Proud Obama Supporter--And I Vote

    Thank you Mr. President for standing up like the man we know you are, and telling the American people the truth. We are not accustomed to such honesty after eight years of the Republican dictatorship and dishonesty.

    Once again you have made me proud and I can't wait to run to the polls to vote for your second term in 2012.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 5, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. TOTUS 4 President

    Our president has an "intelligence failure".

    January 5, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. terry,va

    Who are the idiots that we are relying on in our security? The dude that got on the Detroit plane did everything but carry a sign saying I'm going to blow it up. Our so called security experts knew what was going on but failed to connect the dots as Obummie says. Then you have the Bakersfield airport shut down for a day because a gardener had 5 bottles of honey in his bag. The security officers said they got sick after handling the bags and the shutdown occurred. What idiots at both ends. I'm glad I don't fly anymore and I'm glad I live in a rural area that a plane won't be flying into me. God bless the rest off you.

    January 5, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  24. phoenix86

    It was the greatest intelligence failure to occur since the American voter elected Obama. That decision to vote for this chump was the greater intelligence failure.

    January 5, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. Average American

    No, it's an oBAMA caused disaster!!!!!!!! Yes, Bush turned weak, but oBAMA is completely dismantling or Defense and Intelligence Agencies. The enemy knows this, and they have no fear of being ARRESTED (ooooooo). By the way, isn't oBAMA a man caused disaster, or an overseas contingency operation?

    January 5, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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