January 3rd, 2010
09:08 AM ET
10 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.

Full story

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

    And yet another of obama's czars that is a useless piece of crap.

    January 3, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  2. Fed Up

    The only thing different about this is that the plane did not blow up. Stop pointint fingers at everyone and get the system working correctly (not Napolitano's "correctly"). I am so disgusted by everyone in Washington DC. You all are a bunch of do-nothing cry baby whiners. Go home if you can't do the job in a civil manner. That includes Dems and Republicans.

    January 3, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    We got lucky thats the only thing differant all the other aspects are the same radical Muslim's.

    January 3, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. phoenix86

    The smoking gun is the incompetence of the Obama administration in that Obama is determined to offer US legal rights to known terrorists even though a substantial number of terrorists Obama has freed have returned to jihad.

    January 3, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. tony

    I am guessing Republicans will say that Bush was not at fault for 9/11 because he was on the job for only 8 months, but Obama was responsible for the attempted Christmas bombing after 11 months? Has Obama changed any U.S. policy toward Yemen?

    January 3, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Dave

    "Concealment" of info? As in for several years while 9/11 was planned under the Clinton admininstration when he completely handcuffed the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc..?

    January 3, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. max

    Funny how the neo-pukes have such a selective memory ... 9-11 ... multiple failures under GEORGE BUSH and DICK cheney ... why did't you morons blame them for years after??? Their 'WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION' claim got thousands of American soldiers killed for oil profit ... the more repukes talk, the more they show how out of touch they are ... My grandfather didn't die in WW2 defending your screwed up, fascist, torturing doctrine, he died defending the principles of our founding fathers ...

    January 3, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  8. sharp2

    If there was concealment of info it was due to 8 years under Clinton. Obama has hurt our security since he has taken office. Many have screamed that Obama was making us less safe and now we know it true.

    January 3, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Terry from West Texas

    Take a breath, people. This is not World War II. The total number of Americans killed in America by terrorists this year is zero. If the Underpants Bomber had blown up that plane, there would have been a hundred or so deaths, admittedly.

    42,000 Americans were killed in car accidents last year usually due to speeding or drun driving
    20,000 died of the flu
    400,000 were killed by cigarettes
    A few hundred were shot dead by angry spouses, in bar fights, in drive-by shootings, etc.

    The anti-terrorist actions of our government seem to be working pretty well. However, some parts of our government are not working so well:

    Our health delivery system is not preventing the flu by producing enough vaccine

    Cigarettes have not been outlawed yet due to the tobacco lobby and the influence of Southern Senators

    Gun laws still allow drunks and drug dealers to purchase all the pistols they want.

    Focus. Think. Prioritize.

    January 3, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. CheckMate

    Phoenix86, did you forget that the Bush Administration offered the same legal rights to the Shoe Bomber?

    You might want to try some critical consistency.

    BTW, Obama has been far more competant and accountable than Bush/Cheney could ever think of being, so grow up and deal with the fact that Republicans oversaw several terrorist attacks after 9/11.

    Attacks will continue. It's a fact of modern life.

    January 3, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. EdwinJ

    Where are all the obomatons that voted for the POS supporting his commie czars? Come on people. YOU BELIEVE THIS SHINOLA. STAND UP FOR IT. What? What was that? YOU DON'T BELIEVE! HOW CAN THAT BE? boboma is your (FALSE) prophet. moslems are attacking the west and will continue to do so until we meet the force with FORCE. This lying POS like his traitorous boss should be jailed immediately and tried for treason. Then again, leftist stupidity is is own reward.

    January 3, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. CBR

    Human error is unpredictable. It does not matter which party is in office, mistakes will be made If you are looking for perfection you are just living in a dream world. There is no smoking gun. Stop politicizing and do something to help.

    Stop pointing fingers and just work harder. To Annie and others using such language does not help anything. This whole problem needs to be discussed but like everything else these days it becomes politicized. Instead of working together to solve problems the politicians just keep arguing.

    To Mr. Cheney I say get out of the limelight. The fact that Al-Quaeda is still gaining power is just as much the fault of the last administration as it is the fault of this administration. No one has managed to do everything correctly.

    To Delta – how could your agents allow this man to fly without notifying security to take a good look at home. No luggage and a one-way ticket – two red flags that the AIRLINE ignored. Everyone has to do their own job correctly to make the system work.

    January 3, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. angie

    Looks like CNN is trying to beat out Fox News for the Fearmongering trophy!
    Gloria Borger's ridiculous fearmongering and senseless hype elevates the terrorists and minimizes our counterterrorism efforts.
    It's all about ratings! ratings! ratings! – and lots of monkeys look EVERY TIME.

    January 3, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  14. Eddy J

    Well tony – Lefist stupidity is the reason for 9/11. You all just want everyone to play nice because you want to be friends. Ever try to befriend a rabid wolverine? That's the kind of stupid that makes the west VERY unsafe. You don't play nice with rabid creatures – you put them down. But then again, liberal, leftist stupidity is generally it's own reward – as in 3000 innocent people losing their lives in the name of your PC. Idiot.

    January 3, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. seh

    This guy must be on something – newsflash: it is worse than 9/11. We specifically put systems in place to prevent soemthing exactly like this and the systems failed miserably. The only differences are:
    1) the plane did not crash and
    2) passengers no longer sit back and hope that nothing will happen – they act.

    Now, why do they act....because of stupid comments made by people like this guy!

    January 3, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. GeorgeVT

    Phoenix – the Bush Administration has let more men out of GitMo than has the Obama Adminstration – please check your facts....

    January 3, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  17. sifto77

    FED UP–please stop blaming republicans for the Obama "smoking gun failure"! Until he admits that we are at war , we are screwed as a nation. Fingers need to be pointed–and it starts at the top. A weak leader creates a weak country......stop the denial and put the blame where it belongs–Obama and the Democrats who have pushed through the disastrous Healthcare fiasco at the expense of the economy and the security of the USA>

    January 3, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. Cammie

    For those of you who want to continue to blame Bush........STOPPPP!!
    Bush is out of office! Obama is president and vowed to fix what Bush messed up!

    To continue to compare Obama to Bush is pretty much stating that Obama is just as stupid and incompetent as Bush was! Obama supporters need a new line and strategy!

    January 3, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. EddyJ

    Post this – Tony and all you lefties – your PC is responsible for 9/1, illegal immigrants and the Christmas attack. 3000 innocent people were murdered in it's name. And this schmuck has the nerve to say it's different? Now that's leadership the terrorists can live with. Americans though not so much (Just ask the families of the 3000).

    January 3, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. psk2

    [You've got to] accentuate the positive / eliminate the negative / latch on to the affirmative / [and] don't mess with [whiners] in-between....with apologies to Johnny Mercer.

    January 3, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. John D.

    And just how much are WE THE PEOPLE paying this incompetent bozo with our tax dollars. He should resign immediately along with Napolitano. They have completely left this nation open to even more terrorists acts bowing to everyone out there.

    Have we forgotten that the Major from the Fort Hood terrorist attack was a consultant to Homeland Security. But then Obama comes out and says lets not jump to conclusions and it is tucked away under a rug. We are not being made safe with this administration as they are only concerned with how much money they can screw the people over for. On how they can turn the Whitehouse into the Taj Mahal. Can we please impeach this guy and get rid rid of all his Czars and his wifes 20 something aids that we are paying for. No one can deny these people are the most incompetent administration in the history of this country.

    January 3, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. Jim

    This is what America gets for voting in Liberal policy makers. The in charge liberals want to treat these terrorists like regular citizens. Anyone who thinks they can reason with someone who is willing to blow themselves up in hopes of obtaining 47 virgins is beyond reason. Waterboarding worked and so did the Bush administration policies against terror. Now we have a president who won't even use the term "terror" instead it is termed "a man caused disaster". America is now going backwards and our security is being threatened more and more with each passing day of this administration.
    2010 elections can't come soon enough.

    January 3, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Dan Holiday

    Just face it you pinky leftist babies. Obambi is the worst president ever. He is a POS that hates America and wants these types of attacks to happen. He is best friends with Muslim terrorist and racist blacks. He will never admit to being wrong. I think it is a cultural thing with him. Everything is not his fault. He wasn't there...how could it be. When are the American hating communist democrats going to admit they do not know how to run this country? When are they going to let the adults back into the school so that things can get straightened back out. WORST PRESIDENT EVER....HE HATES AMERICA AND IT PEOPLE. HE IS A KENYAN MUSLIM TERRORIST FIRST AND FOREMOST.

    January 3, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. beanne

    OK soooo no passport, an expired Visa, buying a one way ticket with cash and no luggage, A father going to authorities at the US embassy, e mails to the Frt Hood shooter...hmmmmm if thats not a smoking gun then can you please tell me what is?......

    January 3, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. Don

    No one in the Obama administration can handle taking responsibility for anything without deflecting it, or blaming Bush. The reason 9/11 occurred is because walls were put up between the agencies BECAUSE of democrats and political correctness. Obama has been in office less than 1 year now. We had 2 terrorist attacks. One was successful the other obviously wasn't, but, none the less it was an attack. The reason for these attacks are simple. The Obama admistration is more concerned with perpetuating socilialsm than they with national security.

    January 3, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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