"The system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have," Obama said from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.
The case of the young terror suspect has sparked intelligence agencies worldwide to step up their efforts. In the United Kingdom, investigators searched Abdulmutallab's apartment and are looking into the school he attended from 2005 to 2008. In Dubai, where the Nigerian national lived briefly, authorities say they are interviewing his former classmates.
"We only know little about the student from his university. He stayed here briefly and we don't have any suspicions of the involvement of other members with the Nigerian man," said Dubai police chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim. "We were not approached by any agency before or after the incident. The student briefly studied in a Dubai-based university and was known to be quiet and calm."
The Dutch Interior Ministry said today it would start using full-body scanners, a technology that experts say could have detected the explosives hidden in Abdulmutallab's underwear, within three weeks for flights to the United States.
While the president was taking aim at intelligence agencies that report to him, Republicans were firing political shots at Obama and Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Critics seized on comments Napolitano made Sunday, saying that the "system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days." Napolitano was referring to the response after the incident took place. She was criticized for not emphasizing on Sunday the gravity of the attack and acknowledging possible breakdowns in security.
But on Monday, Napolitano was far more forceful in pointing out shortcomings and said that an intensive review would be done to see if systematic failures led to breakdown in security.
Despite this, some GOP leaders such as Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., are calling for Napolitano's resignation.
"I'm not sure she has the ability to organize that agency to make sure we're secure," Burton said.
Administration officials dub such calls standard Washington political fare and said the president maintains full confidence in Napolitano.
Clarke said Napolitano is not the one to blame here, since she was not provided all the information by intelligence agencies.
"I think she's doing a great job. She was not given the information, her department was not given the information," Clarke said on "GMA." "She inherited a TSA that needed a lot of work. ... I think the problem lies in the intelligence community and not in Homeland Security."
While the GOP is attacking Napolitano, Democrats are pointing the finger at Republicans for blocking the nomination of Obama's nominee for the Transportation Security Administration, Erroll Southers. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., put Southers' nomination on hold amid concerns that the new director would allow TSA screeners to unionize.
"Republicans," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a statement, "have decided to play politics" with a critical nomination. The Nevada senator intends to schedule a vote to break the hold when the Senate returns in January, his office said.