Systemic failure, says Barack Obama

Washington: U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday hit out at the “human” and “systemic failure” as it came to light that American agencies had prior information that might have averted the near catastrophic attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.

Asserting that “this is unacceptable,” Mr. Obama asked his administration to submit a report by December 31 on the failed Christmas day attack.

The President’s hard comments came as media reports said the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) knew about the Nigerian terror suspect, but the information was not passed on to other agencies.

Breaking away from his Hawaiian vacation for the second day, Mr. Obama said: “When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been... a systemic failure has occurred.

“An extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives... I consider that totally unacceptable,” said Mr. Obama as recriminations mounted over the failed attack.

“The reviews I’ve ordered will surely tell us more. But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security,” he said.

CNN reported that the CIA had detailed a meeting between Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s father and an agency official, and it was sent to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

But the news channel said the report was not circulated within the intelligence community, raising new concerns that the agencies had failed to improve cooperation despite the pressure after the 9/11 attack.

American agencies probing the bombing attempt have found “some linkage” between Al-Qaeda and the Nigerian suspect even as officials conceded they had bits and pieces of information in advance of the incident.

“Some of the new information that we have developed overnight does suggest that there was some linkage there,” said a senior Administration official when asked about the terror organisation claiming responsibility for the failed attack. — PTI