January 5th, 2010
04:54 PM ET
4 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. LacrosseMom

    LOVE what President Obama said! He is honest and the far-right can't stand ...... truth.

    January 5, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  2. matt

    we can have all the tech in the world...but that doesnt stop the will of terrorists....who hate us for having everything they dont have...who havent the luxury of being vain or superficial for the sake of popularity....obama is as incompetent as they come at this point...he is a diplomat in time of war...'obsolete"....war profits both sides....and more importantly it profits the people on top.....further more on our own soil obama may very well be our abe lincoln...but im quite sure we have a jefferson davis out there as well....this only leads to try to tell eveyone that there is nothing we can do...history is made by incompetent men as well as competent...there is no great great leader in these times.....just great followers, coincidence, and media coverage

    January 5, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  3. lookit

    I love the "pundits" here blaming Obama and totally ignoring the 8 miserable years that went before him. Clinton didn't do enough and Bush/Cheney went after oil, not al Quaeda so here we are.

    January 5, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  4. Ej

    We as Americans need to stop complaining and start working with our President to insure that each of our families are safe. President Obama is NOT God, and human nature is that we make mistakes, we are not machines.

    The whole is to LEARN by our mistakes and pay attention the "warning flags".

    Americans are SPOILED ROTTEN and have this "what have you done for me lately" attitude that is coming back and biting them on their butts!!!!

    If President Obama fails, EVERY AMERICAN WILL ALSO FAIL AND YOUR COUNTRY WILL TOO!!!

    So rather than all the bashing and hashing, Americans need to step up, roll up their sleeves and help protect their country and their families. Bottom line.

    January 5, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  5. ib

    Finally he admits it failed; took Obama long enough to see it. Now if he just gets rid of that woman that is lost in HS dept we will be a lot better off. And here we still have blind people blaming Bush– my, my Obama never does anything wrong he inherits the wrongs from Bush.

    January 5, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  6. Brian from NJ

    You liberals are never happy... Bush holds suspected terrorists indefintiely and you complained he was violating their rights. So he lets them go and now you complain he freed the people responsible for the Christmas Day attack! And then you whine that the conservatives are unfair to Obama...

    The breakdown in the system probabaly has a lot to do with the pissing match that began in May between CIA Director Leon Panetta and National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair over who staffs the intellegence offices overseas. True to form, Obama did not make the final decision until November... It was office politics, plain and simple. But that is what happens when you put a politician in charge of something as important as Nat'l Security. Bush made a similar mistake by putting Brown in charge of FEMA.

    January 5, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  7. tee

    Obama worst president ever
    Run from who?......you......I don't think so.....chickenhawk repug

    January 5, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  8. tee

    Average american
    If the defense and intell agencies are not doing their job.....they should be dismantled.....you guys are just complaining to be complaining.....while you representives remain clueless and inactive.

    January 5, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  9. Gerry NH

    Look you brown noser's for the president. You prase him but this is entirely obama's fault. This is what happens when you put someone in charge of something that they have no experience with. The democrat party still cannot take responability for there own failurs, and they have plenty of them.

    January 5, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. Matt

    Voting for Obama was the intelligence failure.

    January 5, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  11. Randall in Torrance - Double Masters from Western Washington University

    Dear President Obama, With all due respect, please get this fixed. I am one of your biggest fans, but you need to work with your security and intel folks to prevent this from happening again. All passengers need to be 100% vetted and screened for weapons, etc. You are a great person and a fantastic President. Don't let idiots like the teenaged American hater keep you from doing more great things. You will win in 2012. Happy New Year to you and your wonderful family!

    January 5, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  12. tee

    Please people for the sake of America....do not put another chickenhawk repug in any position of power.

    January 5, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  13. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Bush was all talk and action in the wrong place!

    January 5, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. Chris

    A lot of people here seem to think that we can bomb and execute terrorism out of existance. That if we just blow up enough of some country or peoples they'll learn to respect us and back off. This leads to two observations. The first is that this is pretty much the sameplan that terrorists have. You bomb and scare people enough so that they'll cave in and do what you want them to do. The second is that there isn't any way to bomb terrorism out of existence. The fact is that the more people you kill the more you motivate the people around them into acts of extremism. Think about it this way, if someone came along and killed your brother would you just accept it and be their friend or would you seek vengence? The only way to defeat terrorism is to co-opt them and cut away any local base of support they have. This requires the judicious use of guns and bombs and the liberal use of money (for economic reconstruction, education, and so forth). It's not the most satisfying course of action but it's the only one that will actually work.

    January 5, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  15. Paul from Phoenix

    I can name another failure.....

    January 5, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. GOPBslapper

    The only failure was that Bush / Cheney released the bombers trainers so they could kill more Americans, and that Obama made the poor choice of leaving Bush's intelligence officers in their jobs instead of replacing them with his own competent men.
    Just another GOP Failure come back to haunt us. The effects of the Bush / GOP years will Fester for 20 years or more.

    January 5, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  17. Marc in Canada - security over reaction playing by the terrorist playbook

    Huge over-reaction by all concerned fueled by 24 hr. cable news coverage. This plays right into the hand of the terrorist playbook and gives them exactly what they seek. Free publicity, public uproar and disruption of everyday services.

    All the billions in the world can't secure the world. Terrorists will simply alter their course and change targets. Secure planes and they will attack airport terminals. Secure airport terminals and they will attack cruise ships.

    Spend the billions on improving intelligence, building coalitions, bribing leaders in countries that don't like us much. Continue to drone terrorists whenever possible and hit them where it really hurts – live a normal life and don't mention their attacks in the media.

    January 5, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  18. chris l

    I guess it makes sense that someone with very little intelligence like ODUMBO would blame the Intelligence Agency. But hey, Janet Napolitano is on the job; God help us.

    January 5, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. Mlhall

    I just have a feeling someone here in the USA know more about this Yemeni Attack than they are telling. The GOP wants President Obama to fail so bad, I would not put it past them to make some thing like this happen. Let us not forget President Bush wire tapping, maybe that is why he had to do the wire tapping so he could keep up with what was going on in his Cabin. Obama is not the worst President ever because he must finish first.

    January 5, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. Sue

    Hmmmmmm..........When I saw the words "intelligence failure"--I immediately thought of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Napolitano, Holder, Geitner, Frank, Dodd, Schumer, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

    The MAJORITY in the country DEFINITELY know/understand where the "intelligence failed"--and we have been seeing/hearing/living the "intelligence failure" since Obama was elected.

    January 5, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. mjm

    An intelligence failure is when a president thinks moving GITMO to Illinois is the same as closing GITMO. Not to mention spending millions to do it.

    January 5, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  22. Jane

    Of course on the cavat that it was an intelligence failure due to the last administration......

    January 5, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    Hopefully, this thwarted attack will give the needed push to get our intelligence agencies communicating better.

    I trust that President Obama will push hard for the necessary changes and follow through to see that they're done – unlike Bush, who told us after 9/11 to just "go shopping."

    January 5, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  24. bmw

    Thank you, President Obama, for taking the time to get the facts before addressing the American people. The knee-jerk neocons who criticized your delay in speaking publicly about this incident are the same ones who accuse you of all talk/no action. Their perpetual tantrums got old long ago.

    Those of us who think for ourselves can see how hard you're working, President Obama, to do your best for our country and our planet. We understand there are no guarantees that you can clean up the enormous messes left behind by the Bush administration and the Republican rubberstamps, especially given that these same Republicans are trying to block your every effort.

    Thanks for doing your best. That's all we can ask.

    January 5, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  25. Michael from Ventura

    Don't ya just love it when all these right wing windbags spew their hate at every opportunity? MY memory isn't short-the worst President in my lifetime was gwb, and it will take much more than a year to forget it! The aim of these nuts is the destruction of the Obama Presidency- never mind their "Country First" crap in the election process.
    If they put their country first, they'd shut their mouths and try to offer something other than HATE to solve the problems. These are the most despicable people around! SHUT UP and GROW UP!

    January 5, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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