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President Obama Outlines New Policy to Guide Government Response to Terrorism

In response to the attempted Christmas airplane terrorist attack—which President Obama characterized as an intelligence failure—the president and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano addressed changes that will streamline how the government responds to terrorist threats.

In a nine–page unclassified version of his report regarding the attempted attack, president said that he will not “succumb to a siege mentality,” sacrificing liberty for security. The president ordered Homeland Security to speed implementation of the $1 billion installation of backscatter x–ray machines and other new technology at domestic airports and to work with foreign airport to ensure they upgrade equipment to check passengers bound for the US. The president also ordered the Department of State to review and update its visa policy, to ensure people on watch lists do not receive visas.

The report also criticized the CIA and National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) for underestimating the strength and organization of Al Queda in Yemen. The president pointed out that this was not only a failure to put a potential terrorist on a watch list, but a potential threat that was known to have a US visa on a watch list.

There were multiple reasons for this failure, including a misspelling of the accused bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, name by the State Department. Also, the State Department sent a cable to the NCTC that outlined a warning from the accused bomber’s father, but there was no cross–check after the cable was received, and the cable itself did not rise to the level of threat that would cause the NCTC to put the accused on a watch or no–fly list.



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