WASHINGTON — Fourteen intelligence failures led to last year's Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.
The unclassified report by the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed a series of errors — from problems with the terrorist watch list to multiple failures to connect crucial intelligence data on the alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian.
"The Intelligence Community failed to connect and appropriately analyze the information in its possession prior to Dec. 25, 2009 that would have identified Abdulmutallab as a possible terrorist threat to the United States," the report summary said.
It said that Abdulmutallab, whose involvement with Islamic extremists in Yemen was known to U.S. officials, was never entered in a database for screening terrorists or put on a "No-Fly list," nor was his U.S. visa revoked.
"CIA had reports related to Abdulmutallab, but a regional division failed to search other databases that would have identified relevant information," according to the report. It said the CIA only conducted a "limited name search."
The report also was critical of the National Counterterrorism Center, which sits at the hub of all available intelligence. It said the agency was supposed to "connect the key reporting" but "was not adequately organized."
Coming nearly a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the failed Christmas Day bombing showed that, despite numerous investigations and bureaucratic changes, improved security remains elusive.
"It's vital that reforms be made quickly to prevent future attacks by al Qaida, its affiliates and other terrorist groups," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the chair of the committee. "The Christmas Day attempt and the recent attempted bombing in Times Square show that we are targets, and we must stay one step ahead of the terrorists."
Added Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, the committee vice chairman: "We cannot depend on dumb luck, incompetent terrorists and alert citizens to keep our families safe."
The committee advised that the watch list be simplified and strengthened to make it more accessible and useful. Other recommendations include strengthening the visa revocation system, improving the dissemination of intelligence among key agencies and improving intelligence analysis.
The committee said the director of national intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, "should examine whether adequate intelligence resources are directed against threats to the Homeland."
The report took issue with the Obama administration's view, as stated by Blair before Congress, that the Christmas bombing attempt wasn't a failure to share intelligence, as 9/11 was, but more a "failure to connect, integrate and understand the intelligence we had."
The report said that some of the same "systemic errors" that surrounded the Christmas Day bombing attempt had been cited as problems even before the 9/11 attacks.
FAILURE TO CONNECT THE DOTS
The Senate Intelligence Committee found 14 intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to travel to Detroit on Christmas Day:
Source: Senate Intelligence Committee
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