CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
To understand how the suspect in the botched terror attack was able to board a plane, you have to understand how the counterterrorism system that President Obama says failed is supposed to work.
The president says the clues were there, and that a fuller, clearer picture of 23-year-old Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab would have emerged if all the bits and pieces had been shared and put together.
"The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America," Obama said.
The president has ordered a top-to-bottom investigation of the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. The preliminary report is expected Thursday.
One of the key questions is why wasn't the suspect's visa revoked.
The suspect, a Nigerian national, was supposedly on the terrorist watch list. Six weeks ago, his father warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son was becoming radicalized and had gone to Yemen.
The father provided the embassy with his son's name, birth date and passport number. That information was sent in a routine, unclassified cable known as a visa VIPER to the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington.
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