January 5th, 2010
08:36 PM ET

Evening Buzz: "The System Failed"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/12/31/abdulmutallab.terror.radical.cleric/story.suspect.air.usm.jpg caption="Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab 'spent a number of hours' with the FBI after he was detained, the White House said Tuesday." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

President Obama told his Cabinet and national security team today that the failed Christmas Day bombing aboard a U.S. jetliner shows "the system has failed."

"The bottom line is this: 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," the president told the press gathered at the White House after today's meeting.

"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 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."

"That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it," he added.

So, who's responsible for the intelligence failures? Tonight on 360°, we're looking at where the system failed and naming names.

There's another troubling reality for the White House. It revealed yesterday that there was a third crasher at the State Dinner last year. We've discovered that title goes to Carlos Allen, a DC party prompter. Allen got in by mingling with the delegation of the Indian Prime Minister.

Sally Quinn of the Washington Post wrote an article about it in today's Washington Post. She says it's time for accountability at the White House.

"One of the first lessons any administration need to learn is that somebody has to take the hit for whatever goes wrong. If another culprit is not identified , the president gets the blame. One incident after another in the past few months has shown that members of this administration would rather lay low and let Barack Obama be the target. This has to stop, " Quinn wrote.

Do you agree? Share your thoughts below.

Anderson will talk with Sally Quinn tonight and CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend, former national security adviser to Pres. George W. Bush.

Tonight we also kick off a special series we're calling "What's Next." With the new year upon us we're getting out our crystal ball and talking with some of the leaders in science, technology, health and the arts to see what they think will be the things to look for in the coming decade.

We'll talk with Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway scooter. Get ready for some fun, our floor crew will be riding around in Segways. Let's hope no one gets hurt.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. David, Indiana

    I think march chicken mcnugget lady did the right thing. She'd just been ripped off of her money. If you order something from a restaurant and they don't have what you ordered, they should cheerfully refund your money. Instead of causing a scene, this lady took effective action. It's just sort of humorous that it was an order of chicken mcnuggets
    the more recent chicken mcnugget lady became violent and destroyed part of the store in an outburst because chicken mcnuggets were not available. I don't know if it was strictly vandalism or destruction of property in the course of breaking and entering in crime of passion to get the chicken mcnuggets.

    It's surprising chicken mcnuggets are so desireable, but march chicken mcnugget lady and recent chicken mcnugget lady are two different cases. march chicken mcnugget lady was taken advantage of in the course of a transaction and sought the protection of the law. recent chicken mcnugget lady broke the law because she was angry, or maybe hungry, that she could not get chicken mcnuggets.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  2. Tim Gibson

    All of the recent events are a stark realitiy to the failures of the system. Need anyone point out that the world is not disconnected and item by item our national gaps in the circle are being revealed not only to our friends and allies but to those who wish us harm as well.

    Not who, but who not to blame for these deep failures by our leadership. It may be that a single person was the weak link, or it may be a complete systemic failure. Eiither end must be held into account for the failings in our national security, both here at home and on the base where a "double agent" killed members of our CIA. The call is coming from inside the house!

    When we should be concerned with rebuilding the ruins of our economy we now, from attack, domestic and international, are at war and the depth of invasion is beyond acceptable.

    We the people ARE connecting the dots.

    January 6, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  3. Mike,Iowa

    The word DUH comes to mind. People need to just focus on their jobs and get things done right and make our system work for a change instead of looking for someone to blame or fire all the time. If we fired everyone who screwed up or didnt do their job right we would have no government. Everyone work toward the greater purpose of keeping Americans safe nothing more nothing less.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:18 am |
  4. Carlos

    Bush was re-elected for a "system that has failed". It took long enough to have happened during Obama's presidency, but it could have happened before that. Were we really safe from the start? I think not.

    Regardless under which political term it is running, the program is not effective enough as it was put to work in a very short period of time.

    January 6, 2010 at 2:48 am |
  5. Elle

    Finally, we are going to "profile" travelers from 14 countries. This is a start, but the real trouble lies in the basic fact. We are infiltrated in too many areas, and there is a lack of communication, and it is on purpose in many cases. Many of our law enforcement agencies have been brainwashed, and now they are trying to reverse the effects from this. Too many of our organizations have trusted moderate Muslim organizations in the past, for advice, and now, that trust is backfiring. So many of them have terrorist ties, and so much damage has been done. If we are to preserve our freedoms, Americas has to wake up, and realize that diversity may be the death of our nation. We need to bring in the reigns, and limit gov't access to this particular group--it is a group with a political ideology that is evil, They want Shariah Law to prevail globally.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:53 am |
  6. v

    Once again the easy scapegoat of blaming the intelligence community for failures. The intelligence was there, it was the failure of the non-intel organizations to act on the intelligence. If anyone should be fired, fire the President's speech writer for claiming intel failure. Failure to act is not an intel failure. Point the blame to the organizations responsible for upholding and enforcing security for ignoring the intel that did connect the dots. The xmas bombers name was on the watchlist, it didn't get there by random.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:39 am |
  7. Laura A. Pippin

    All I've been hearing is excuses about why this individual wasn't put on a no fly list. Given that his father gave them a head's up and the fact that he was on another watch list should have been enough to stop this person from trying to kill innocent americans. There is no excuse why there were no heads up given to the airline security, etc. President Obama is so right in saying that he will not tolerate this kind of security error. He truly care's about us, americans. HUGS to President Obama. Anderson you are the best reporter on TV.
    HUGS to you too from Montana.
    Laura A.

    January 6, 2010 at 1:03 am |
  8. Tricia Wilhelm

    I flew on an domestic flight on Christmas day. I received a CNN breaking new's email before boarding the plane about the incident on the Nowest flight. While in flight I watched CNNs breaking news story. After several hours, I mentioned the incident to the flight crew. Imagine my surprise when they knew nothing about it. My concern is that the front line staff on airplanes were not given given the intel about a terrorist attack. It seems to me that we can pass all the security measures involving passenger screenings, they can check my toothpaste and the soles of my shoes, but if the flight crew isn't put on red alert within minutes of an incident happening. then we are missing out on a much more effective way to stop terrorists attempts then patting down old ladies at the airport.

    January 6, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  9. Barry J. Gillis

    I watched the president live on CNN here in Canada, and I believe that he is doing the right thing....

    I'm not sure where to post this, but it is very difficult for me to believe that TEAM USA just beat Canada for the gold medal in the Junior Championships, and CNN has said ZILCH about it.

    This should be big news in the USA. Nothing has appeared on the ticker yet either????

    Anyway, I'm heartbroken that Canada lost the game, as I am a Canadian, but with all of the bad news I see on CNN throughout the day(s), you think that CNN would be right on top of this story...

    It was a great game, and Team USA won in overtime,

    Just thought I'd update you on this...

    Barry J. Gillis
    Edmonton, Canada

    January 6, 2010 at 12:03 am |
  10. April

    What a crock the whole thing is. Americans are so gullible. It's not about Obama and missing a few terrorists. This whole charade was set up to allow the 'group' behind Obama (that's right, Obama does NOT rule the US) to instill more fear into America (which everyone buys into). When will America get this? Stop thinking in the box. Our entire country was manipulated for years by the Bush family and a group of exceptionally wealthy greedy pigs who are out to control everything you do and say. And every one has bought into it, hook line and sinker. Don't you ever question why they had the 'x-ray' machines ready so quickly to go into the airports? Now each of you will be exposed to radiation every time you fly. Get past the wool that's being pulled over your eyes and wake up before it's too late, if it isn't already...

    January 5, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  11. kerry from canada

    Hi Anderson, love your show watch it every night...

    January 5, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  12. Dolores

    This is a joke...I have never felt so unsafe in this country. What is happening to us?

    If we do not get tough and treat these people as they would treat us upon doing the same things to them then it will only be a matter of time before they get it right!!

    Can't we see that these are only test but eventually they will put it all together and send over someone with half a brain to carry it out correctly. What are we waiting for???

    January 5, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  13. Mike M

    We all feel safe now under obama... with Whitehouse party crashers and now exploding underwear...

    Boy this is a Hot topic

    January 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  14. Fred - Illinois

    Anderson: We should not be surprised by the recent string of blunders in the intelligence community i.e. failure of the intelligence community to adequately address issue involving the potential bomber, the lack of working cameras at the same airport used by the 9/11 terrorist, and many similar incidences. Whatever systems we put in place they must be monitored routinely. If they are not monitored we become experts at correcting the situation after the fact.

    January 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  15. cr862

    I don't know why anyone needs to lose thier job... then we would have to get somebody new up to speed and we really don't have time for that... I think holding the responcible parties accountable and expecting more from them (much much more) is fair... but the breakdown happened on so many levels that it would be impossible to find that one person who failed and I see no need to disgrace anyone..I do think that our President needs to do a better job of leading...He's a boss, I can see that..He gives orders and deadlines. He tells his staff and congress that they need to come up with this or that by this date or that and he gets results, but I'm not sure I see any real leadership going on...and by leadership I mean leading by example and taking personal stock in the concerns of his country and her people. Seems to me that his family fun time may be more important to him than his job....I'm a bit concerned about that.. I expect more from the President..

    January 5, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  16. Rhonda

    I fully agree with the full body scanners because everybody knows the human body we already know what we got male and female so all those who say privacy is the issue that bull crap Our security system is a joke we need change and we need change immediately

    January 5, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  17. Mark Perry


    To Profile or Not to Profile, that is the Question.
    To Fly is to perchance a Terrorist Bombing.
    Thats the reality in 2010.

    We live in a dangerous world, we should profile all people on flights, that way we keep our eyes open better. Within reason, of course, but this PC crap has gotten out of hand.

    You said it right on your show, we rely too much on fancy, expensive gadgets to protect us when what we need is vigilent good people following their instincts and staying alert. 300 people were saved by a young Dutch man, who along with others acted very bravely and most importantly very quickly. We should hire him as a security consultant, hes already proven hes up to the task.

    All the money and monitoring devices in the world wont help if we cant put 2 and 2 together and make a sound decision. I have a feeling these security lapses are more common than we know. Lets start on that fix now!

    Mark Perry
    Modesto, CA

    January 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  18. Debi

    Blaming top administration officials is absurd...... I doubt Hillary Clinton has ever personally revoked a visa. Connecting the dots..... collaboration is the key or we need to merge all intelligence agencies into one. This was a failure on so many levels, practices, airport security personnel..........
    Maybe someone should hire Tom Clancy ........

    January 5, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  19. Bernadette

    It's nice to know I can travel with a bomb taped to my upper thigh and have no problem boarding an american plane. did the bomb meet the 3oz. liquid limit? the tsa is great at finding my large tube of toothpaste or my 3.5 oz. of shampoo! heaven forbid we should travel with toiletries. maybe our shampoo should be strapped to our upper thighs . . .

    January 5, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  20. Martha

    The problem has been recognized. It needs to be fixed as the President stated...so stop the partisan blame.

    January 5, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  21. philip

    obama is during a good job but this is clearly at fault on the cia and state department

    January 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  22. Anthony

    Why is it that we some how believe that everytime someone makes a mistake that the only response is to fire them. I guess every worker in this country have not made any mistakes on the job. I know what a mistake can cost in this fight. I am in charge of people lives every day and my decisions can cost someone. Remeber that we are humans and if you who sit behind a computer can do better then get up and get in the fight, if not take your free spech and keep it to yourself. Because you don't do me or any who command Soldiers any service.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  23. rita

    what is needed is less competition between intelligence agencies. If they don't pass on info someone shld lose their job.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  24. SebastianRothhammer

    Where is the bame for the ailine that didn't see wonder why he bought a ticket with cash and no bags?

    January 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  25. Cecil

    I don't think that we should allow any flights into the U. S. that have boarded passengers in a country that doesn't cooperate with us on security.

    January 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  26. Stephanie

    Mike in Syracuse: I would imagine you said the same things about Bush/Cheney and the shoe bomber. Did Bush take resposibilty? How many people were fired? Were agencies called to account?

    I suppose to you would agree that Bush/Cheney should be called before Congressional hearings for why they didn't go after the American cleric who is leading these people when they knew about him and he was residing in the United States. I would also like to hear what procedures they took in deciding which prisoners they released from Gitmo that are also leaders of Al Qaueda in yemen.

    And please remind me pf all the success Bush had running a business!!

    January 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
  27. John F. Michler

    Andersen Cooper I enjoy your show and keep up the good work you are doing.
    People like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab must be put to death at once.
    Also the only way to handle the Countries the harbor murders/terrorize
    must be destroyed once and for all.
    After all we are at war sir. The only way to win a war is to use what ever weapons that are necessary to win.
    John F. Michler US Navy Vietnam War Combat Veteran

    January 5, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
  28. alex

    The whole security at airports has and always be a farce.

    This is another glarely example that this administration genuflexing to problems, rather than creating solutions by having experienced people within his cabinet, without that this administration will be having crow pie for another three years.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  29. Larryboy

    Happy New Year! I sure am impressed with our President, and his handling of this situation. Who ever thought that someone dressed in a nice suit could talk a terrorist onto a US bound flight without even a passport? I heard that this foreign terrorist had his miranda rights read to him. Yeah, a big thank goodness for that! We wouldn't want to violate a terrorists rights. And perhaps there may have been a risk of profiling, that prevented the communication of this individual through the proper channels? We all know too well the evil that lurks behind profiling – if you ever find out what it is please let us in on that little secret too.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
  30. beris

    Isn't the problem in this whole story the fact that we MISSED all of them, in all these cases? That we MISSED the connections and let them through? We missed the connections with 9-11 attackers and we let them slip and do the terrible horror things they did... We missed the latest one and issued him a visa and let him in... The whole problem here is not the scanning devices and new gadgets! It's the fact that we keep missing the facts and connecting the dots. If you implement the new security measures they will come up with something else.

    You don't see Spain panicking like this after their train bombings, or London after their bus bombings, or Amsterdam after failed marketplace bombing attempt. Their life continues to go as usual. They never panic or change their measures. What they try to do and make sure to do is to try to PREVENT with intelligence and destroying the cells before they intend to do something- not at the airport gates! Don't forget: it's not just airport and airlines.. who knows what the terrorists will come up with next. We need to stop them in the beginning! BEFORE they are already engaging in completing the plot.

    This whole body scan gadget is missing the point.. or it serves well the company who is producing them.. it serves the company and associated interests. But it will not do anything significant to our overall security and safety.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  31. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Any successful executive knows that if someone isn't hacking it, they need to get shown the door. Unfortunately we have a President who has never run so much as a lemonade stand. He doesn't know how to be a leader beyond the rhetoric. The President is getting the blame because he's created a culture of no accountability, and thus deserves the blame. That those who work for him are perfectly willing to let this situation exist just speaks to the quality or lack thereof of his political appointees.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
  32. Bala

    Intelligence is useful but it is not full-proof in most cases. However in this particular case they should have canceled the visa of suspected bomber when his father warned U.S.
    It makes me very suspicious to find that U.S embassy did not take any action when his father himself warned. I have gone through U.S. Visa process and I can say with my own experience that getting U.S visa is tough even for a innocent person with no bad affiliations. How could this individual retain his U.S visa when U.S embassy had a knowledge that he is affiliated to known terrorist groups?
    As far as latest security measures are concerned, they are not convincing enough.
    I am not sure if full body scanners will protect us either because a determined terrorist could hide explosives in his or her body cavity !!
    Another problem is why to scan people from only few countries ?
    This is a very unfortunate situation and there are no easy answers to it.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
  33. Annie Kate

    If people are not doing their jobs correctly why does Obama tolerate it and allow himself to be used as the "fall guy" for these blunders? Does he have a problem with calling people to task over the miscues and errors? If he does, he needs to learn very quickly how to apportion blame for a situation to the area it belongs to – letting himself be blamed is not good for him or the image of the President.

    The guys on the Segways ought to be fun – just hope there is a traffic cop so there isn't some news created on 360!!

    January 5, 2010 at 8:44 pm |