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. Proud Democrat

    The security of our nation has nothing to do with political partisanship. It's about keeping ALL of us safe.

    I really wish people would stop with the Anti-Republican and Anti-Democrat HATE rhetoric.

    If you hate someone because they are Republican then you are no better than a RACIST.

    If you hate someone because they are Democrat then you are no better than a RACIST.

    Sadly it looks like will be adding Political affiliation as one of the NEW HATE CRIMES.

    Enough already!!!!

    January 3, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Sue


    Hmmmm.....Intereresting........Keep making excuses for Obama, Napolitano, etc.--However, the MAJORITY in the country are not falling for the lies/excuses.

    It was up to OUR government to remove this guy's Visa--being that he was on a terorist watch list.

    Obama was briefed waaaayyyyyyy back in October--that the terrorists were planning on using underwear explosive devices on planes.

    I know that if I were in charge of Homeland Security--it would not matter what country.........If a flight was scheduled to fly into the US--and all of those red flags/warning signs were there--–I would DEMAND that the US Homeland Security be contacted immediately, before the flight was able to take off.

    But, keep covering your eyes/ears--as it is so much more easier-– than admitting that Obama, Napolitano, etc. are FAILURES-–and are placing US citizens and our country at increased risk.

    January 3, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Tom Kas

    "There's a sticky problem with your twisted racist logic, Republicans: SOME Muslims (a LOT actually) are tax-paying contributing CITIZENS with all the rights afforded citizens in this country."

    You don't understand. Resources being spent on screening folks like my 80 year old mother, are waisted and could be spent clearing the the tax paying contributing CITIZENS you speak of. Wake up!

    January 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Ethan

    There's no point in even paying attention to these "Republican" "Conservative" people. It;s 2010. Enough of their twisted lies and innuendo. Let them try their extremist rhetoric out in the courts if they feel so strongly about whatever is their latest idiotic lie du jour. Like if they want to repeal health care reform, for example, the absolute dumbest idea ever, go ahead and try to take away health care and health insurance reform from the American people. So there's really no sense in listening to them at all either politically or on policy. None. It's pointless. They have cried wolf then tried to raise money off of a terrorist attack. They've done it before and they just did it again. Time and time again. Over and over with these people. They are not credible in any sense. Our current government, thanks to President Obama, is moving forward on security and making our system better for ALL Americans, while taking it directly to AQ all around the world. All while fixing the economy that the GOP destroyed. So, to the Republicans, I'm sorry, you don't even deserve to be taken seriously or listened to at all. The rest of us serious people, let's fix this country. Back to work in 2010. God Bless America and God Bless the Troops!

    January 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Debby

    Is this guy for real any terrorist attack on US is like 9/11. Another cover up by Obama's goon squad. Hey Obama go have another round of golf and some shaved ice.

    January 3, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Why is it that the looniest 10% of Americans, the right wingnut population, embrace the incompetence of the Bush/Cheney administration? They forgive the ineptness that led to 9/11, the anthrax mailings, the shoe bomber, the lying about WMD's that were non-existent after 1991, the fake connection to Iraq and al-Quada, mission accomplished, the fascist policies that took away constitutional rights, wire tapping, torture, the law of the land, and the continual deaths of 45,000 Americans who have no access to affordable health care.

    January 3, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Sue

    The Democrats are going to get clobbered in the 2010 elections.

    The Republicans are going to campaign on the economy, unemployment rate, and national security.

    The Democrats plan on campaignig on "blame Bush"--and trying to make voters believe--that they have actually "helped" the economy.

    Tick tick tick.............Only 10 more months to the elections---and the power/control will be taken away from Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the rest of the loony left circus of clowns.

    January 3, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. racoco

    Alan – when it comes to racism Mr. Obama has the market cornored. His spritual advisor of 20 years, The Most Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is a black nationalist full of racist hate. Mr. Obama's attack on the New Haven police department was a classic example of racism in its vilist form.

    January 3, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Maybe the right wingnuts also want to purge the 1.5 billion muslims in the world. When will they realize that there is more to this world than the right wingnuts' country clubs?

    January 3, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. Tom Kas

    I agree Sue. Nov. 2010 We will make this country Right again!

    January 3, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Where are the intelligent right wingnuts who know that Fox is for entertainment and not the truth? They all cannot be stupid, can they?

    January 3, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. racoco

    Ethan – the Republicans will actually do quite well in 2010 with the health care issue. Most of the people gaining care already vote for Obama, most of the people being raped by Mr. Obama will, certainly, vote against the Democrats and Obama. Landslide for the GOP no doubt. Healthcare rape repealed shortly thereafter. Mr. Obama heads for Federal Prison.

    January 3, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. James

    Once again, these delusional Republicans want to twist the story to suit their position! Terrorist attack the US 8 months into Bush's term and kill over 3,000 people – its Clinton's fault. Yet, despite the fact that NO ONE has died as a result of domestic terrorism during Obama's 11 month term, they want to label him as "weak". Of course, they will credit that to Bush's stronger security policies – the same policies that are in place today that failed to stop the terrorist from getting on the plane with a bomb. But, of course, they will blame Obama.

    There is no point in arguing with these people because they will NEVER acnowledge they are at fault. These people are NUTS!

    January 3, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Hammerer

    National security is not a priority of this administration. First they have no idea. Obama thinks that he can read a speech from his teleprompter and smile and the world will fall at his feet.
    This administration is totally incompetent in every area.

    January 3, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. Beverly in NC

    I don't understand why this incident is being so overblown. We now know the US has already been doing bombing runs in Yemen on Al Qaeda camps this year, so we are aware of the problems there.

    This was a Dutch screw-up in security compunded by US security problems in the Netherlands before this teenager got on the plane. If this kid was really going to blow up the plane then why did the device not go off until the plane was landing in its destination of Detroit?

    I'm sick to death of Republicans blaming President Obama for EVERYTHING that goes on in the world. My God, the man can't even see a movie with his kids without more petty whining by Republicans.

    What exactly has ANY Republican done this year to help America?? NOTHING! All they do is whine, complain, criticize, refuse to be involved in the legislative process falsely claiming they are being shut out – not true – they just don't show up for the meetings they were invited to attend and spread hate speech, lies, and fear messages. How is that helping Americans without jobs, without healthcare, and surrounded by crumbling schools, roads, bridges?

    It's easy to sit around doing nothing but criticizing those who are doing the work and getting things done. It takes intelligence, commitment, true character, and true concern for the welfare of ALL Americans to work hard to get important and needed legislation written and passed.

    Where have the Republicans been this whole year? Sitting around puting, being bitter because they were soundly defeated, telling outrageous lies, not coming up with one single solution for anything, calling for the failure of America, and promoting racist hate group rallies that have no issue other than to carry tasteless racist signs about President Obama, and carry loaded weapons to insinuate they aready to commit violence. The Republican Party refuses to denounce these lunatics because they are the only people left who still believe the Republican garbage they spew.

    After the "shoe bomber" (under Bush's watch), we all had to start taking off our shoes at the airport. Since this kids had chemicals in his pants, are we know going to have to take off off our pants and underwear too? The TSA's reactionary security procedures get more and more ridiculous and make no one safer.

    Why don't we do what we should have done in the first place after 9/11 – bring in the Israelis to teach us REAL airport security. They have no securit breaches on their flights and passengers don't have to strip to get on their planes.

    How about for the New Year the Republicans either get down and do serious, helpful, honest work or shut up, go home, go play more golf like House Minority leader Boehner ($83K in golf fees this year) and let the Party of the People, the Democrats, get more progressive programs passed so we can restore America more quickly?

    Isn't there enough hate and violence in the world without the do-nothing Republicans intentionally creating more for their own political game playing? Republicans care nothing about you or me. All they want is power back so they can get back to enriching themselves and their corporate buddies who abuse American workers and industries like insurance who abuse and kill Americans for profit.

    Turn off FOX, mute the TV every time a whining, cry wolf Republican starts their old stale criticisms, and support President Obama and the work the Democrats are doing on YOUR behalf. Look at every piece of legislation passed in 2009. ALL of it was for the benefit of the PEOPLE and reined in corporations and their abuses and greed.

    January 3, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Look, with eyes open at this story

    It is not surprising therefore to learn that the knicker bomber apparently received special treatment at Amsterdam airport before he boarded his flight to Detroit. Eyewitness Kurt Haskell reported that a sharply dressed Indian man escorted him to the gate and told the attendant that the knicker bomber had no passport but needed to get on the flight. The sharply dressed man was told that he would have to speak to the manager, which he apparently did and successfully got the young 'terrorist' on board.

    January 3, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    Dan Holiday, yours takes the prize for the vilest, most hateful post by a right-wing fanatic (but the year is young). Millions of citizens, liberal, independent and conservative, are sick of the wild-eyed rantings of extremists like you. If we are indeed at war, we need to be pulling together, not pulling apart. You're hurting our country.

    January 3, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. Wakeup Call

    If you don't wakeup and do something about this threat, it will produce the next 9/11 event !!!!!!

    January 3, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Sue


    You do realize...............

    Currently, OVER 58% of citizens/voters do NOT want the health care disaster that Obama and the Democrats are trying to shove down our throats.

    So, yes, the Republicans will definitely be using the health care disaster when campaigning for 2010 as well.

    Between the health care disaster, economy, unemployment, national security, cap and tax energy bill, amnesty for illegals, closing Guitmo, etc.---the Democrats are going to get clobbered in the 2010 elections!!!

    January 3, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Ethan

    racoco, you're a perfect example of what I said. Sue also. Nobody pays attention to people like you anymore because you are just not credible. Hoekestra and the NRSC sending out a fundraising letters off the terrorist attack was the last straw. You've cried wolf for the last time right then and there and you know it. The GOP has broken this country over the past 10 years and are resorting to using extreme tactics and extremist rhetoric in trying to prevent serious people from fixing what is wrong with this country. People have had enough with your lies. You are just not credible. It is 2010. Your lies don't carry the same weight they used to. Your comments don't elicit the same anger they as used to. It's just pointless even considering what you say as if it was rational. When all you say is NO, that is what you deserve. No attention. You deserve to be tuned out. By the masses, the Left, by the media, by everyone. As I said, for the REST OF US SERIOUS PEOPLE, let's get back to WORK this year. Fix our problems. Get it right. Ignore those who don't want solutions. There's just no point in taking them seriously.

    January 3, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Janet

    Brennan says the bits and pieces of information available back then look obvious in retrospect, but were difficult to recognize in prospect, and that the Christmas bombing attempt is an unique incidence. I think this line of thinking only illustrates his lack in judgment and the ability to execute. The types of information they had were such clear tell tale signs that there cannot be any excuses that this is anything but an utter systemic and human failure. Without clear accountability at every level, I don't think America will become any safer.

    January 3, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. phillip

    Hey Ron, thanks – from your earlier posts, you don't sound much different than me.

    Anyway, what I said is the truth – it has been tried and tested by Empires and Regimes throughout history. Divide and conquer. Keep the people arguing amongst themselves and they will be much less likely to unite against oppression and tyranny (which now exists in the form of a corporate structure that restricts wealth to a very small elite, and practices cultural hegemony through mass media and keeps everyone nice and numb and stupid)

    The Republican vs Democrat argument is one of the funnier ones. Look how upset everyone gets! Rabble rabble rabble!! The leaders have you just where they want you. Apathetic, impotent, and glued to your computer screen.

    January 3, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. pete

    fyi- 'Muslim' is not a 'race'. it describes a person of a certain religious persuasion. Not all Muslims are terrorists- correct. But- most of the terrorists that want to harm us are Muslim- so, when one of them ends up on a terror watch list the least they could do is pat him down at the airport!

    January 3, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Abe

    I am tired of the Republican party to be a party of cry babies. I guess when you do not have any ideas to bring forward as well as suggestions they live for criticism. There is no smoking gun. Stop pointing fingers. When people get killed we do not say they are Democrats or Republicans they are all Americans. Shame on the Republicans for being like snake waiting for the right moment to attack and inflict injury. The venom they are injecting in our society will come back and bit them in 2010.

    January 3, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Sue


    You should really look at some current, national polls--as the MAJORITY in the country agree with everything that I have been saying.

    However, in 10 months the elections will be here--and we will see what the majority "really" thinks/feels.

    January 3, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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