US intelligence agencies had enough information to detect and prevent a 23-year-old al Qaeda would-be suicide bomber from obtaining a US Visa and boarding a NW flight on Christmas Day with explosives hidden in his underwear, but the agencies failed to connect the dots in time, according to a new report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"Almost nine years after 9/11 we are concerned about whether or not the Intelligence Community is organized effectively to identify and disrupt terrorist attacks," said Committee members Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R.-Ga.) and Richard Burr (R.-N.C.) Tuesday following the release of the report.
According to the report, "no one agency saw itself as being responsible" for identifying threats despite the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) following 9-11 to do just that.
The report cited 14 specific failures, including databases not properly searched, misspelled names in databases and a general failure to share intelligence reports between agencies. Misspelling Abdulmutallab's name prevented the State Department from finding his visa and revoking it. The report said that criteria for adding names to terror watchlists were too complicated and too rigid to address quickly emerging terrorist threats.
The report also found that a FBI counterterrorism analyst was not able to adequately search databases because an FBI computer was misconfigured. In its recommendations, the report calls for the FBI Director to review FBI information technology for all relevant intelligence reports on Abdulmutallab.
The office of the Director of National Intelligence, which runs the NCTC while not directly responding to the 14 specific failures of in the intelligence community listed in the report issued a statement saying the agency had already undertaken "corrective actions to address these shortcomings."
The agency said it has "clarified roles and responsibilities" and created a new "dedicated analytic element" to "thoroughly and exhaustively pursue terrorist threat threads."
A spokesperson for the CIA told ABC News that agency had also quickly put new measures in place since the Christmas Day attack including increasing "name traces on possible extremists and terrorists," disseminating information on suspected terrorists within 48 hours and increasing the number of analysts focused on Yemen and Africa.