In view of the failed attempt by Al Qaeda to bomb a US—bound plane on Christmas Day, and killing of CIA officials in Afghanistan by a Taliban suicide bomber, American President Barack Obama will hold a situation room meeting with his top intelligence aides on Tuesday.
The announcement from Obama in this regard came after he received a briefing on preliminary reports on the review he had asked for after Nigerian national Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a North West Airlines plane with 300 people in board on December 25.
“On Tuesday, in Washington, I will meet personally with relevant agency heads to discuss our ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence—sharing improvements in our homeland security and counter—terrorism operations,” Mr. Obama said in a statement after he received the preliminary review report at Hawaii, where he and his family are spending their year—end vacation.
A senior Administration official said the White House continued to receive preliminary reports from various agencies, which were being compiled and then would be presented to Mr. Obama both in raw form and in a compiled format.
“I think a number of agencies that are working on it will be working right up until 11:59 pm,” the official said referring to the deadline given by the President to various agencies in this regard.
“Yes, it’s a heck of a Happy New Year,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama is personally expected to meet heads of various intelligence agencies in the Situation Room.
Prominent among them would be officials from the CIA, Directorate of National Intelligence, Department of Justice, National Counter—terrorism Centre, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration and the National Security Adviser.
Given that Mr. Obama enmeshed himself in the details of this event over the last several days and will continue to do so over the next several days, a senior Administration official said this will be a meeting that the President will press very hard on and that he himself will lead.
“He (Obama) continues to be very focused on this and is continuing to ask a lot of probing questions on it,” the official said, adding that Mr. Obama has been spending considerable amount of time on this issue during his vacation in Hawaii.
“We obviously want the reforms that are put into place to be driven by facts and we’ll certainly have accountability measures driven by facts, as well,” the official said in response to a question.
Without going into specifics, the official said Mr. Obama believes that there is need to take a look at everything.
“I think that the fact is that we’ve seen instances in the past where this has worked exceedingly well and those instances dramatically outnumber this instance, which is, as the President called it, a systemic failure,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama has ordered a review of the security procedures and the terror list in the wake of the botched Christmas Day bombing attempt by Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
“This morning, I spoke with John Brennan (Assistant to the President on Homeland Security and Counter—terrorism) about preliminary assessments from the ongoing consultations I have ordered into the human and systemic failures that occurred leading up to the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas Day and about our government—wide efforts at continued vigilance on homeland security and counter—terrorism efforts,” Mr. Obama said in a statement earlier in the day.
In a separate call, Mr. Obama spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to receive an update on both the Department of Homeland Security review of detection capabilities and the enhanced security measures in place since the Christmas Day incident.
“I anticipate receiving assessments from several agencies this evening and will review those tonight and over the course of the weekend,” Mr. Obama said.