January 3rd, 2010
11:18 PM ET
13 years ago

Kean: Unsuccessful bomber 'probably did us a favor'

Washington (CNN) – The man who led the federal government’s inquiry into the intelligence lapses leading up to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks said Sunday that the Obama administration is plagued by the same problems the Bush administration had more than eight years ago.

Thomas Kean, the Republican who chaired the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, said Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan had sounded “a bit defensive,” in an interview that had just aired on CNN’s State of the Union.

Kean said Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian who failed in his attempt to set off an explosive on an airplane about to land in Detroit, “probably did us a favor.”

“We had an administration which was not focused, as it should be, on terrorism and that’s understandable,” Kean said. “They were focused on health care and global warming and the economy. That’s very understandable. Secondly, we weren’t really focused on Yemen and the terrible things that are happening there. Now we are and that’s a good thing. And, thirdly, there were holes obviously and the [intelligence gathering] system wasn’t working well. We found out it wasn’t working well and the president understands it’s not working well and now we’re focused on fixing it.”

Kean directly repudiated Brennan’s earlier assertion that the circumstances that allowed AbdulMutallab to board a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day were different from those that led up to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

"It's not like 9/11," Brennan had said earlier on State of the Union, 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," Brennan also said in reference to the well-chronicled competition and turf wars between security agencies prior to the 2001 attacks that was later blamed for the failure to prevent them.

Kean disagreed.

“He’s wrong when he says this wasn’t like 9/11,” Kean told CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

After pointing out that the 9/11 Commission concluded the U.S. intelligence community failed to piece together various bits of information it already possessed in the weeks and months prior to the 2001 terror attacks, Kean said “[AbdulMutallab’s foiled Christmas Day attack] is the same thing – a lot of pieces of information. If they had been shared by the intelligence agencies the way they should be . . . then this guy would’ve never have gotten on a plane.”

Filed under: Extra • Popular Posts • State of the Union • Terrorism
soundoff (311 Responses)
  1. Jac

    I find this not at all surprising. After all it was Joe Biden himself who predicted this during the election cycle. "They will test this man!"

    We elected a man who has no clue, who is an empty suit with a slogan slapped onto it. Community Organizer last year, leader of the free world this year. It's not like our enemies haven't figured that one out too.

    January 3, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Ray

    Funny- No GOP uproar when Richard Reid brought explosives on to a plane 9 years ago!! What actions did the Bush Admisistration take to prevent explosives on a plane?? Bush did not mention it for 7 days!! Rumsfeld is on video calling it a criminal issue to be handled by the Justice dept.

    January 3, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Debby

    I agree with Kean on his analysis , but he shouldn't have said the bomber did us a favor. That was a stupid remark.

    January 3, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    I love how all of a sudden you liberals have become what you called the right, "chicken hawks" and are now defending the war. LMAO...

    January 3, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Kamakazi Muslims lets focus people its past time to profile.

    January 3, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Ron

    U.S. Govt agencies have known this incident and others like it could happen based on testing of security measures now in place. The agencies, however, continue to fail in their main reason for being of protecting the citizens of the U.S.

    January 3, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. buckwheat

    Hey did you hear the great one say "terrorist" in his last address on the failed bombing?

    January 3, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. kev49426

    James from Texas...go peddle your lame HC bull$*&t somewhere else. Many more people will die from a government run healthcare system than the one we have now. Let's see, the government agencies were able to identify a terrorist that they had been specifically warned about, that bought a one way ticket with cash, had no bag and no passport...hummmm looks pretty efficient to me. I'll put my money on changing the system we have versus dying because I have to wait for a test or life saving operation for 6 months...

    January 3, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. StingyBee

    The top priorities are stimulus moneys and healthcare.

    January 3, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    One thing all of you do not realized is that the would be bomber was trained by two former prisoners of Gitmo which was release by the Bush administration. and the failed security process was put in place after the 9-11 Commission. So yeah to put it mildly ,the party of Obstruction will create chaos for the American people because American people are foolish to believe that they will really protect them. But in truth the party of No will not heal the economic deficit because the hungry public will have no job but they will resort to enlisting in a war created by the Republican.
    because this is much more easier than the draft.

    January 3, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Juan

    If some you are stupid enough to think Bush who invaded a country that had no (known) ties to terrorism made us safer you are sadly mistaken. President Obama has made this country safer by being more diplomatic in his dealings with these countries that are on the fence. No matter who is our president there will still be people to hate the US and its policies. What we need to learn as Americans is to stop being so arrogant and listen to what the world is saying. I think President Obama understands this and it is sad that more of us do not. For this reason we will fail as a nation.

    January 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  12. c2sense

    Thinking that Bush kept America safe because there was no attacks since 9/11 is a whimsical farce. For one they ignored warnings of the Clinton presidency about Al Qaeda & until 9/11 had no focus on them. The Bushies then followed their own agenda and used 9/11 as a stepping stone to get into Iraq, something they planned on doing when coming into office (look at Cheney's & Rummies history). They had 8 years, spent billions, and didn't reduce the Al Qaeda threat. The Bush administration was a failure in homeland security, thee economy, and in foreign policy. Kean is correct in that the focus has to be moved from partisan political bickering & moved to improving the screening process. Don't get caught up in hype.

    January 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. Obama Mama

    Willy Brown January 3rd, 2010 12:04 pm ET

    I love how all of a sudden you liberals have become what you called the right, "chicken hawks" and are now defending the war. LMAO...

    Your Master Bush didn't leave us a choice....

    January 3, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  14. Eric of Reseda

    BUSH DID NOT KEEP US SAFE. This Republican mantra is such a load of hooey! Over 8,000 Americans died on Bush's watch!!! 3,000 ON AMERICAN SOIL!!! And that is in addition to tens of thousands maimed for life!!! "Well, at least we fought them over there and not here!". TWO things: 1) I repeat, 3,000 Americans died on American soil. 2) What difference does it make WHERE the other 5,000 died?!? Bush allowed Bin Laden to escape, Al Quaeda is apparently VERY much alive and well, our Constitution was shredded under Bush, we have spent TRILLIONS on the Bush/Cheney/Big Oil/Haliburton et al scheme, and the list goes on and on.

    What poison well are you crazy Conservatives drinking from that you are falling lock-step behind GOP propaganda! Blame Liberals all you want. That won't change the facts. Your leaders have abandoned you, and their loyalty to the multi-nationals (LOVE the way Cheney's beloved Haliburton moved to Dubai. Says it all) over the American People is PAINFULLY obvious.

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

    You wanted a Third world leader now you have one.

    January 3, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. Geoffrey Feldman

    I think it says a lot about an American who sees Terrorism as beneficial in any way. This demonstrates the focus of Mr. Kean as one of seizing political advantage rather than contributing useful ideas for preventing further attacks. This folks is the shameful moral state of the Republican party.

    January 3, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Yooper

    Gop...are you kidding me Bush didn't fail? what planet are you from???? Katrina B***** those folks in New Orleans are still trying to recover from Bushism's get a clue stop the hate and work as the AMERICANS you claim to be and help america not your hater party....Bush Cheney stunk and let's move on and get this country rollin away from the haters....Republicans be on alert 2010 and beyond we take back this country and make it safe, and proud to be americans....flag wavers join the majority and push health care, the economy to recover and getting rid of the republican terrorists.

    January 3, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. Larry

    Ray E. – Killing em all isn't the only answer. Did you ever stop and ask yourself WHY they want to kill us? Not for MTV dude, rest assured.

    January 3, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. Bob

    Sorry folks call me anything you want but I don't believe there is a utopia where we can all live together in harmony. History is our proof. We, as humans have too many weaknesses to be able to achieve any altruistic goal.

    Was it wrong to round up Japanese americans and encamp them with our war with Japan. Morally yes, operationally No.

    Is profiling morally wrong,? Yes. Is it the correct operational thing to do to protect you from a muslim enemy bent on your destruction? Yes

    Since the beginning attacks on the embassy in Nairobi, the USS Cole,
    911 and to date all the persons carrying out these attacks are muslims primarily with their birth country being from the middle east and africa.

    So profile, by all means. If this administration is bent on giving muslims "innocent until proven guilty" ahead of our security, then they have it all wrong. Guantanamo Bay is a good example. Sending Yemeni terrorist back to Yemen, what a joke.

    The Administration is on the wrong side of this issue. From the soldier at Fort Sam Houston to the attempted bombing of the flight recently, these are not isolated instances. The muslim terrorist world feel they have a green light from the lack of actions being taken by our administration.

    January 3, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. Indy

    The other favor from this attack is to expose the Republicans and right wingers for what they truly are. They are full of racism and hate for the POTUS and this will only serve to help the terrorists and they know that. Releasing the detainees is no worse then having Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity, Beck spewing hate, lies and fear and for sure if Cheney and Bush are allowed freedom the detainees must have some rights.

    January 3, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. Steve

    The huge difference between 911 and the "Christmas" bomber is....THEY CAUGHT THIS GUY BEFORE HE BLEW ANYTHING UP!!!

    Obama got the job done on that one so, of course, the Greedy Old Pr!ck's try to spin the idea that somehow he didn't. Nothing can erase the miserable conduct of Cheney, Bush, Rove et al; the people they murdered, the money they stole, etc...no matter how many lies your paid shills tell on Fox "News" or how many idiots like Regan, Quail, Bush or Palin you fraudulently install in office with rigged elections.

    The Republican party is an obscenity.

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

    The first 9-11 happened on Clinton's watch when the nuts almost blew the twin towers up then. I think that was about the same time Ollie North told some dummy in Congress when he asked who the most dangerous man in the world was he replied Osama bin Laden. The buck is at Obama's door not Bushs' door.

    January 3, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Michael Fallai

    What Kean really meant to say, was the bomber did the GOP a favor because they never hesitate to exploit terrorism for political advantage.

    Repeatedly raising terror alerts during an election season, using the "War on Terror" to bully Democrats into supporting more war, more tax cuts, more whatever is on the GOP agenda.

    All in a day's work for the Rethuglican Party.

    January 3, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Obama Mama

    Bush kept no one safe. All he did was add fuel to the fire when he engaged war in Iraq only to finish off Saddam Hussein, a job his father couldn't complete. Went in for all the wrong reasons and all the while the enemy is in Afghanistan. Spent trillions of unnecessary money and now sitting back in his fabulous new home....How selfish.

    January 3, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. buckwheat

    It seems strange that all the Liberal moderators have to work on Sunday at CNN.

    January 3, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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