January 5, 2010
Posted: 08:49 PM ET
Washington (CNN) - President Obama said Tuesday that U.S. intelligence has had considerable success, but that the botched Christmas Day attack shows "the system has failed" in a major way.
"When a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives on Christmas Day, the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way," Obama said at the White House in a statement to reporters.
U.S. intelligence had uncovered numerous "red flags" prior to the attack, Obama said at the White House, but failed to connect the dots.
"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," Obama said.
"In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had," the president 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."
Obama said he could accept the imperfect nature of intelligence work, "but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged," he said, adding: "That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it."
The president listed steps so far to enhance security, including more airport screening and tighter monitoring of U.S. visa holders.
In addition, Obama said he ordered his national security team to complete preliminary reviews of the situation this week so that suggested reforms can be implemented right way.
"Time and again we've learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary," Obama said. "So we have to do better, and we will do better, and we have to do it quickly. American lives are on the line."
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