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. db

    Who's "politicizing" the Christmas terror attack now?

    January 3, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Brian

    Boy, you conservatives sure can keep your talking points straight. "Obama says we are not at war." Wrong. He's said it numerous times. "Obama freed the Gitmo detainees." I'm sure he has, just like Bush did. Including the ones who masterminded this latest attempt. And someone says that "leftist stupidity" is the reason for 9/11? Clinton and Richard Clarke warned the Bush Administration over and over again about Al Qaeda, but when did they finally take action? AFTER 9/11.

    January 3, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. krakow

    Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright are primarily responsible for 9/11. Their silly yet dangerous three Stooges mentality opened us up to attack. Now with the Jihadists sympathizing Obamists actually INVITING attacks on us things are going to get hellishly worse until Obama is removed by impeachment.

    January 3, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Mlhall

    President Bush release more terrorists than President Obama. But the President Bush is the reason these people was Guantanamo in the first place. I am not saying they should be there but why didn’t President Bush charge them and put them in jail for good where they should have been, then President Obama would not have any one to release.

    January 3, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. catmomtx

    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.

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????And did you forget that the systems in place were put there by the previous President. Since the previous President kept telling us that those procedures were keeping us safe, WHY would President Obama go in and change anything. You people would have had a field day if he did.

    You sound disappointed that:
    1. The plane did not crash
    2. The passengers no longer sit back and hope that nothing will happen–they act.
    Why are you disappointed about that ? Would you have rather that the plane crashed and people died so you could vilify President Obama and scream impeachment? So sorry you are so disapointed.

    Republicans are using their usual fear tactics by trying to convince gullible people that this President doesn't care, that he is to stupid to know we are in a "war", that only Republicans can keep you safe. Unfortunately there are a heck of a lot of gullible people more than willing to believe the Republican lies and mistruths rather than supporting our duly elected President of the United States.

    NEWS FLASH, NO ONE DIED !!! IT WAS A FAILED ATTEMPT NO MATTER WHY IT FAILED, THANK GOODNESS. At least now we know that the procedures put into place by the Bush administration need to be reviewed because apparently they lied about that too.

    January 3, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Republicansdisgustme

    Traitors on the right wing are far more interested in bringing down this administration at any cost, including human lives, than they are of a safe country. If the country fails they get back in power.

    They will and do lie about anything, Republicans are scum..

    January 3, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. katiec

    My understanding is the agencies that are out there to protect us spend more time trying to build up their empires, seek power and
    do not share information. There is little cooperation between the
    agencies as there is ongoing competition rather than unification.
    Until this changes there will be many inadequacies.
    In this case most of the blame lies upon the employees not doing
    their jobs. Too many red flags were ignored and this is unacceptable.

    January 3, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. No one famous

    "No smoking Gun"......................gee not like the bomber's dad tried to inform EVERYBODY that his son was planning on blowing up a plane. Get a clue people, the Obama administration does not want to believe that a radical faction of the Muslim religion HATES the West and will do everything to kill us.

    January 3, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. diridi

    stop thinking like idiots. Bush's failure on Yemen. ok. I think, we need to stop and freeze "Immigration" for ten years. Stop issuing "Visas" like idiots. Issue visas to those who are 60 years or older only on visitor's visas. ok. do not extend their stay either, they may go public charge again. ok. completely stop visitor's visas, student visas, doctor's residencies, stop the greed by university hospitals, do not nag that we need medical doctors, this and that. Use PAs, they are the best doctors available with lot of experience. we all will be better off. no more visas to foreign skit....ok....stop it. we need thorough screening at airports. ACLU, you first do not be idiotic, saying this hampers liberty...ok, our skies will be safe from al quida...ok, God bless our nation, the USA. Writer is a law grad, not an ordinary guy...

    January 3, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Oh gee.....

    I guess if it's not like 9/11 then Obama's security team has no culpability on this one......after all we all know that terrorism and our security are at the top of Obama's agenda......or is socialism first?...I get confused...

    January 3, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. kev49426

    What a bunch of idiots. Obama is making Bush look like a freakin'genius as if that is even possible. So, he identifies Yemen as the emerging threat and then his Homeland Security "czar" (whatever that is) says...we would never do anything to put Americans at risk." What a bunch of morons. And for those keeping count, 300+ INNOCENT wives, brothers, children, fathers and sons would have perished if the device had worked. No one cares as long as its someone elses loved ones. My wife and I have been on that very flight twice. These terrorists will not stop. They will kill us no matter what gestures are made because it is their way to paradise. Wake up and smell the coffee. The only way to stay safe is to send them to paradise as soon as possible. Then we will both get what we want.

    January 3, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. J Callihan

    With the right having nit-wits like Dan Holiday, we're in good shape for the future.

    January 3, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Republicansdisgustme

    It was the Dutch that let this clown on board, but that is the fault of the Obama administration, because, ...well, just because.....

    Obama must be a lot more powerful than we thought, the Republipukes think he's running Holland as well as the US.

    January 3, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. philthetruth

    Not like 9/11? Yeah, that makes it okay. These people are idiots voted in by idiots. Every terrorist attack on a plane since Lockerbie in 1988 has been carried out by foreign-born Muslim men with the same hair, skin, and eye color, and half of which were named Mohammed. Instead of being profiled as they should, they are read Miranda rights as if they were citizens. At least Bush thought they were the enemy. Is there any doubt left about the O-hole's world view or intentions? Or is incompetence? If so, you are being naive, because I could have been describing our deluded, radical "president" above rather than jihadists. It's okay, let yourself believe the reality of the peril we and our country are in...

    January 3, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. Bob

    This is Reagan's fault. He was the republican that caused the end of the Soviet Union that obviously caused 9/11 and everything since.
    Wake up America, we are too soft. I really don't care if they like us and our poicies as long as they are legal and keep us safe. This isn't sitting around the campfire singing kumbuyha.
    Being "understanding" has changed Iran right? Being "understanding" to Russia and changing our defensive missle plan has changed the way they act toward us?
    Get a backbone Mr. President!!!!!!

    January 3, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Scott, Tucson

    People, it's time to start profiling Muslim passengers. What is it going to take till an administration finds the backbone to do it, the lost of more airliners and passengers all in the name of Political Correctness?

    January 3, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. katiec

    Wow, CNN is being bombarded by the Limbaugh, Beck extremists this morning.
    It is sad and frightening all the hate, anger they possess, citing misinformation, never listening to or acknowling facts or reality.
    Their extremism is a black mark on our country and us.

    January 3, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Tell that to those three hundred and some people who were almost turned into char-grilled minced meat. This administration DOES NOT GET IT!!

    January 3, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. Mike1952

    It's just a matter of time. The terrorist's know liberals are weak on defense. They are licking their chops. Sadly, innocent people will die. Thanks Wingnut and AG Holder.

    January 3, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. pete

    heck of a job, janet!

    January 3, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. stephen pelton

    It was refreshing to see Brennan challenged as his statements were the antithesis of the OBAMA dogma. There was little to no transparency, no acceptance of accountability and somehow finger pointing at BUSH all at the same time.

    The president's team is focused on spin and message control, not transparency and finding solutions.

    January 3, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Bob T.

    Unfortunately Republicans are so blinded by their party loyalty (party first, country second) that they are unable to view things objectively. This inability to think critically combined with their lack of education makes them a true danger to our country. While we should clearly hold our leaders accountable, perhaps we should also try to support them. Mindlessly parroting Republican/conservative talking points and slogans doesn't help anyone.

    January 3, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. Joe Fattal

    Mr.Brennan, the only difference between you and me, is that you were chosen for this job by mistake, me, I never applied for it. The difference between 9/11 and this one, 9/11 was mastermined by very professional people, people if you knew you will never admitted in public that you knew. This Nigerian wasn't ready to die for anyone, he wanted some attention, he succeeded to have the attention, and also he helped this new innovation, the body scanner to be used in some air terminal, it was a money making for some contractors. If that Nigerian wanted that plane down, he would have blown it up over the ocean. In other words, whoever is behind it is HIM, not Al-Qaeda or any other groups.

    January 3, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. IndepndentAmerican

    Of course not! Its like the "show bomber" incident! We need some common sense at our Intelligence Agencies! IF someone's father warn our embassy that their son (or daughter) is an extremist, put the person immediately on the "no fly list"............ duh.

    September 11th happened on Bush & Dick's watch; they were warned, ignored the warnings........... Americans died!

    January 3, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  25. Anna SW Missouri

    Wow! After reading these comments it is evident that the looneys are out today!

    January 3, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
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