January 3rd, 2010
09:08 AM ET
13 years ago

Brennan: Failed Christmas bombing not like 9/11

Washington (CNN) - Human error and system lapses, rather than deliberate concealing of information, allowed a terror suspect with explosives to board a U.S.-bound airplane on Christmas Day, President Obama's terrorism czar said Sunday.

John Brennan, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the security breakdown in the failed bombing of the Northwest Airlines flight was different from the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"It's not like 9/11," Brennan said, adding that the "system didn't work as it should have" due to "lapses" and "human error."

"There wasn't an effort to try to conceal information," he said, referring to the well-chronicled competition and turf wars among security agencies prior to the 2001 attacks, which was later blamed for the failure to prevent them.

"There is no smoking gun piece of intelligence out there," Brennan said of the failed Christmas bombing, allegedly planned by a Nigerian man who boarded the flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, with explosives in his underwear.

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Filed under: John Brennan • Popular Posts • State of the Union • Terrorism
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. State of Tennessee

    I just don't understand why the radical muslims do not love us now. Haven't they heard by now that we have installed a muslim immigrant as our supreme leader?

    January 3, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Tink

    Larry January 3rd, 2010 11:14 am ET

    What happened in New York on 9 / 11 / 2001 was carried out by the Bush administration, they did it and many of us know it.
    If the day ever comes when enough of the American people pull their heads out of the sand, maybe these traitorous, treasonous liars like Bush, Cheney and Rove will get what they deserve.
    Until then, we must all suffer with the risks from the real terrorists, those that sleep under the roofs next to our own, and call themselves Americans.

    Uhhhhhh can I get whatever he's taking???

    January 3, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. bjnj

    Brennan's a lightweigh. Should be the assistant to handling security at a Walmart store. Making stupid comments on airline screening just shows what a poor performer this guy is. Brenan...it was EXACTLY like 911. A failure to properly screen. Our rock star should fire Brenan just before the American people fire him!

    January 3, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. moimpya

    Does this guy live in America? Box-cutters were used in 9-11. Now they are using bombs and we are safer..........................????????????

    January 3, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Artie

    Brennan is a" lapse and human error"!

    January 3, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. j

    One lone inept bomber can not be compared to the coordinated attack that happened on 9/11.

    Geez, people, this stuff is going to happen from time to time. There are a lot of crazies in the world and we can protect ourselves from every single one of them. Every once in a while, one of them is going to get through our defenses.

    All we can do is take each incident as a lesson learned and make modifications to our defenses. It doesn't mean we abandon our principles, rights and liberties as the Republicans would want us to do.

    January 3, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. slp

    Of course it wasn't like 9/11. To admit that it was would be to accept reality which is what this administration doesn't want to do. This attack being on a smaller scale is insignificant. There was still the same motive which was a hatred for America and everything that it stands for. The intent was also the same which was to kill Americans. All of you who are spouting off about terrorism being just criminal activity are crazy. Common criminals are usually too conceited and greedy to cause themselves any bodily harm. These terrorists are operating under an ideology that they have been immersed in since birth. They have been taught since their first day of life that Americans are evil and are to be terminated at all cost. That is why they are so willing to be martyrs for their cause. You CAN NOT deal with them the same way you do common criminals. The last administration understood that and until this administration faces these harsh realities then I am afraid that more Americans are going to die at the hands of these extremists.

    January 3, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. valwayne

    "The SYSTEM WORKED" "ISOLATED EXTREMIST" . We now know the underwear bomber is part of a vast Islamic conspiracy at war with the U.S. with the intent of destroying our country and killing as many Americans as possible. Yet Obama had the terrorist read his Miranda rights, gave him a lawyer, and the right to remain silent. No interrogations as an enemy combatant for Obama's Isolated Extremist. So who exactly is ignorant or not aware of the facts? Brennan is a fool!!!! How many Americans will die because of this ideological blindness and sheer incompetence. "The System Worked"????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    January 3, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. valwayne

    "The System Worked" Who does this guy think he's kidding. Has Obama selected a single competent person to head up our security apparatus. Are they all this incompetent with our security?

    January 3, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. xlntcat

    Given the poor performance of the interviewer, it is amazing that Brennan was able to get out one coherent statement. Personally, given the self-serving, self seeking misinformation spread across the airwaves thanks to CNN's overreacting, emoting, hand wringing etc which has turned a failed attempt into award winning propoganda for Al Qaeda, maybe our intelligence agencies need to focus right here in the U S. Whose side is the media on?

    Who didn't know prior to this A M, that the Visa issued in the U K was considered an immigration issue and was not reported to our State Department? Who didn't know, hadn't heard on CNN, that Nigeria isn't a debt ridden society like the U S and deals in cash only? Who didn't know that the flight didn't originate in Amsterdam? Apparently, the CNN interviewer who either just doesn't keep up or is deliberately trying to mislead the public in an opportunistic effort to capitalize on terrorism. Take your pick. Trying to turn a failed attempt of terrorism into balloon boy, Octomom, or Jon and Kate for ratings is disgusting.

    You will note their wasn't a single question regarding what needed to be done to improve security, no discussion on the fact that fail safe security exists only in the movies, or what passengers might do to aid in airport security. There was no interest whatsoever in gathering information, only in who can we scapegoat to perpetuate the problem. Talking over a guest who has access to far more accurate data than the interviewer (everyone had access to more accurate data than this interviewer) impedes informing the public and perpetuates the rumors, speculations and misleading data that was spewed by the media. Maybe we should leave reporting on national security issues to ethical journalisst who are willing to do the ground work neccesary to convey accurate information. There are one or two left out there.

    January 3, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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