Obama Says System Failed, but Stands By Gitmo Decision

Posted January 5, 2010 at 4:44pm

President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the failure to prevent a terrorist from trying to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day shows “the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way,— and said an aggressive effort was under way to correct flaws.

Obama also said he is determined to close the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, prison, but he added that those released will not be going to Yemen, where the plot appears to have been hatched.

Obama spoke at the White House after meeting with various agency chiefs responsible for homeland security. The Situation Room session, which was described in detail on the daily White House schedule, appeared at least in part designed to show that the president was taking command of the situation in the wake of criticism that he waited too long to address it while on vacation in Hawaii.

Obama stated directly that the attack should have been prevented.

“The bottom line is this: The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list,— he said. “The information was there, agencies and analysts who needed it had access to it, and our professionals were trained to look for it and to bring it all together.—

The president said he wants “initial reviews— completed this week. “I want specific recommendations for corrective actions to fix what went wrong,— he said.

Obama said the terrorist “watch list— is “not broken,— but he added that it needs to be strengthened and that more people have been added to the “no-fly— list.

Obama said several steps have already been implemented, including “new screening and security for all flights, domestic and international, more explosive detection teams at airports, more air marshals on flights and deepening cooperation with international partners.—