January 10th, 2010
10:33 AM ET
8 years ago

McCain, Lieberman want accountability for intelligence failures

Washington (CNN) – Just days after President Obama took personal responsibility for the intelligence failures that allowed a 23-year-old Nigerian to board a U.S. bound airliner, allegedly with explosive material hidden under his clothes, two prominent senators suggested Obama has not done enough to impose accountability within his administration.

Announcing the preliminary results of his administration’s review of the failures leading up to the foiled December 25 attack, Obama said Thursday: "I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels." But, the president declared, "ultimately, the buck stops with me."

On CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, both said that was not enough.

“I think some people have to be held accountable for the mistakes – for the human errors – that the president acknowledged that were made that enabled that Nigerian terrorist to get on that plane to Detroit and we’ve got to change some things in the system,” Lieberman told King.

The suspect, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to blow up the Detroit-bound plane.

Asked specifically who should be held accountable, Lieberman suggested the State Department for its failure to determine that AbdulMutallab had a visa to enter the United States and to pull that visa once AbdulMutallab’s father raised concerns about his son.

“Secondly, at the National Counter-Terrorism Center, something went wrong,” the Connecticut senator also said Sunday. “That’s the place we created after 9/11. It’s served us very well but it did not in this case. So, if human errors were made, I think some of the humans that made those errors have to be disciplined so that [the errors] never happen again.”

Lieberman’s comments were echoed by Obama’s former rival for the Oval Office Sen. John McCain.

“People should be held responsible for what happened,” McCain also said Sunday on State of the Union. “And we can’t go back to the old Washington kind of routine: we’re all responsible so, therefore, no one is responsible. Someone’s got to be held responsible,” McCain told King, taking an apparent dig at Obama’s “the-buck-stops-with-me” approach to accountability.

In the declassified summary of the Obama administration’s review of the intelligence community’s failures surrounding AbdulMutallab alleged plot, the nation’s counterterrorism apparatus was faulted for failing “before December 25 to identify, correlate, and fuse into a coherent story all of the discrete pieces of intelligence" that the U.S. government had in hand about "the emerging terrorist plot."

The summary released Thursday also said "the overlapping layers of protection within the [counterterrorism] community failed to track this threat in a manner sufficient to ensure all leads were followed and acted upon to conclusion."

And, according to the summary, there were also a series of human errors which "delayed dissemination of a finished intelligence report and what appears to be incomplete/faulty database searches on Mr. Abdulmutallab's name and identifying information."

In response to the findings, Obama has ordered a number of changes throughout the intelligence community intended to correct the weaknesses and errors found in the review. But, thus far, Obama has not said he will discipline or terminate anyone for the community’s failure to “connect the dots” about the December 25 plot.

Udpated: 11:15 a.m.

soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. bas

    Read the title of the article followed by the text. Once again CNN demonstrates its bias. Legitimate disagreement is not equal to slam.

    January 10, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. manny

    Sarah Palin will be heavily involved in the administration of the U.S. governement after the 2010 elections, and there is nothing that you Obamists can do to prevent that. The irrational hate (manifest by non-sensical words seen here daily) only strenghtens and encourages true patriots who support Palin.

    January 10, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Ken in NC

    .If McCain and Liebermann wanted accountability, they should have won the election. Oh, that's right, they didn't run. It was McCain and Caribou Barbie and they lost. Well If McCain and Liebermann want accountability in some way other than the manner in which it was given by the President they need to run and win in the next election but for the time being, they both need to STFU and allow the President to make Presidential decisions.

    January 10, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Larry

    Thes two clowns both need to go away. Both are corrupt and the reason Washington is in the shambles it is today.

    January 10, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Sue

    It doesn't matter what Party someone belongs--when they are concerned about the security of our citizens and our country--and the futures of our children and grandchildren.

    Obama's policies are placing US citizens and our country in DANGER.

    Obama, Napolitano, Holder, and other Dems--are more concerned about the rights of TERRORISTS-–than they are the rights of US citizens to be safe/secure.

    The terrorists around the world are recognizing Obama's weakness/cluelessness--and they are taking advantage of it.

    If Liberals could see anything beyond their blind, clueless, gullible support of Democrats-–just because they are Democrats--they would recognize and be concerned about the fact that Obama is placing our citizens and our country in increased danger.

    January 10, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. Georgia V. Hilt

    Isn't it funny how you rarely hear anything from W. because he obviously knows how his administation failed this country, yet the old boy's club of Cheney, McCain and Lieberman refuse for one minute to give President Obama's ideas even one minutes break. This country will never have a chance to be the super power it once was with the respect and credibility it once had, as long as these three old warmongering and hatemongerers keep their old gums flapping. God, how I hope the people of Arizona wake up and smell the coffee.

    January 10, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. gate

    How many people did Bush fire after 911? Zero.

    January 10, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. Get Real

    Maybe if Leiberman had been his running mate instead of Palin, things might be different. You can all say what you want about Joe, but at least he thinks with his own mind and not party.

    January 10, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. J.Lee

    What ever happened to "It is anti-american to critisize a wartime president" ??

    What a horrible party the GOP...everything Bush did was good and anything Obama does is bad.

    I have never seen such a NO NO NO party.

    No to Obama

    No ideas

    No plan

    How many republicans have voted 100% NO on every piece of legislation offered since Obama became president????

    January 10, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Winger

    As a Canadian looking in, your system of governance is sadly to distort for gain and advantage, so seemingly whacked out and remiss of any integrity and honesty. What is right is wrong, wrong is right, it's become bizarro world.

    January 10, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Rick

    Both need to shut up and retire.

    January 10, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. Sam

    McCain, Lieberman want accountability for intelligence failures. Oh yeah? Me too. I am still waiting for the Iraq war accountability. I am still waiting for the 9/11 accountability. I am still waiting for Richard Reed accountability, but these are accountabilities that you don't care to ask for.

    January 10, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. S Callahan God help America!

    President Obama, This was a serious lack of action on the part of those you have appointed to be protectors of our security. Yes, the buck does stop with you....and like the employee that steals from the cash register...you must let those who did not do the right thing go.
    I'm sorry Janet, but on this on you failed, and failed big.

    January 10, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. John Joe continue to HIDE the Truth from the American Public

    3,000 Dead for the hit on 911, 4,000 dead for the Fake war in Iraq for the express purpose of splitting the 25 year oil leases between Britain & America BP-Amoco.

    100000 Dead Iraqi's during that campaign + We haven't done anything to stop Israel from pillaging the West Bank or Buildling Settlements on the Golan Heights.

    Meanwhile we (America & the CIA) have Armed Drones flying all over Jordan,Pakistan,Afghanistan, Iraq the entire middle east even & shooting into homes un -provoked on other sovereign countries . Yet you wonder why the US is getting Suicide Bombers? Puhleeze..

    NBC,CBS,ABC,CNN censure ALL the 'News' coming that affects Palestinians & the Arabs & The Israelis and us Americans haven't figured it out we have only been told half the truth.

    Wake Up America...

    We aren't being told the Truth..about what it is that is provoking these people Dr's, Psychiatrists, People with Masters degree's to go Ape chit over the US Policies.. & becoming Suicide bombers or sleeper cells..

    January 10, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Grant

    McCain and Liebermann appear to be attempting to score political points against the President rather than truly trying to help the country. If they did want to help, and it might be a good idea to influence the President to take some stronger measures to address security lapses, why not get a direct call in to the the President? I think Senators can do that. Start rebuilding the respect and connections these two once had across party lines. While McCain and Liebermann come from different parties and supposedly represent the positive compromises that make government function, they have certainly lost that in the past couple of election cycles with their sometimes childish resentments against our President and his party. Yes, they did lose that last election but it's time to be statesmen, not y old men.

    January 10, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    This is all a bunch of crap when we was at war with Germany thats who we were at war with when we were at war with Japan thats who we were at war with .We are at war with the Muslim people we are at war with Islam being politically correct is insane and is dangerous to our national security.

    January 10, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. st. louis jake

    to sue:

    what's the matter? don't you righties trust the american justice system?

    the people held at gitmo are criminals. try them, jail them or execute them.

    our country is based on the rule of law, not the workings of the secret police.

    if you don't like our justice sustem, then move somewhere that uses another system – like iran or north korea. they don't bother with that silly rule of law stuff.

    January 10, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. AJ

    These two morons werent too concerned about intelligence failures during he Bush administration. Now they're concerned?

    January 10, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Keith in Austin

    While Bush was in office, he met with our security advisors EVERY MORNING at 0:900!

    If any of you Liberal Flames truly believe you are now safer under Janet Napolitano and Barry's watch, you're naivity is belief!

    Obama's empty words of strength and new tone regarding AT WAR with terrorism, pales in comparison to his true weakness
    Obama's true colors are clearly evident by his support of trialing terrorists in public courts vs. Military Tribunals, bowing to Islam Kings, Apologizing for America all over the World to name just a few.

    Al queda and Taliban enemies are now emboldened and seriously engaged under his watch while his primary focus has been on taking over the Nation's Healthcare, Global Warming, Peace Prizes, Bringing the Olympics to corrupt Chicago, Cash for clunkers,his relentless campaining mode and playing golf in Hawaii!

    January 10, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Michael Carrillo

    How about congress holding those responsible for outing a CIA agent...those responsible for starting an unnecessary war in Iraq with the sole intent of fattening the wallets of their no-bid contract buddies?

    McCain and Liebermann both need to leave congress, and get a real job.

    January 10, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. jerseylou

    These two and others who think like them are what's wrong with this country.

    January 10, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    3,000 Americans died on 9/11, how many people did Bush fire and neither McCain or Lieberman called for any firings. In other words I guess those 3,000 that died under Bush's watch aren't important enough to have held Bush accountable.

    January 10, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. James Steward

    manny "Sarah Palin will be heavily involved in the administration of the U.S. governement after the 2010 elections,..."

    HAHAHAHA Thanks for the laugh. I got more experience than Sarah "PAIN" Palin. Really!! I traveled the world and meet folks from all walks of life. I got a PHD and did my college and post grad it in 6 yrs. I am fluent in 6 languages. So you see why Palin? YOu need to vote 4 me instead.
    Why Palin when she left her job to ca$$h on a book. I mean do you want a president who will say NO MAS after 2 or 3 yrs?
    What is wrong with this list, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Ike, Kennedy, Reagan... Palin. PALIN???????

    Cheney and Bush did more harm to the world and the USA than any other president in the history of our nation. They belong to the Hague for crimes against humanity & high treason. Invading Iraq for not reason at all and for having false intelligence yet NOBODY paid for that and NOBODY GOT FIRE?

    I left the REPS after I got sick of their arrogance and all the innocent folks they were killing in Iraq, over 800,000, due to their lies and failures. And all those GI's who got killed or maimed for life. Manny you are LOCO LOCO!!

    January 10, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Ben Alcobra

    The Shoe Bomber. Richard Reid. What did W., Cheney, and the other Republicans do about that lapse of security? Was anyone held accountable? No. Cheney, McCain, the other Republicans, and the neo-Republican Joe Lieberman, all whining about accountability for the Boxer Bomber, are hypocrites. CASE CLOSED. Did I mention 9/11? Did W., Cheney and the Republicans hold anyone accountable for that? ANOTHER CASE CLOSED. Whiners, read the lips of Americans who know how to process information and who remember everything that W. and Cheney did or didn't do about accountability after 9/11 and the Shoe Bomber: you are hypocrites. Since the facts show that the Republicans did nothing about accountability for acts of terrorism on their watch, they must be angry with Obama over something else. Now, what could that be, I wonder? Let's see... they hate Democrats, they hate liberals, they hate intellectuals, they hate... Oh yeah, I remember now.

    January 10, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. Michael Carrillo

    Manny, I'm sure that if treason charges are ever filed against anyone...it would be GW Bush, Cheney, and their co-horts for all they did to destroy this country. All the problems we face today started with failed leadership 9 years ago...long before Osama became President...get a clue.

    January 10, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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