BRENNAN: Well, first of all, there was no single piece of intelligence, a smoking gun, if you will, that said that Mr. Abdulmutallab was going to carry out his attack against that aircraft. What we had, looking back at it now, were a number of streams of information.
We had the information that came from his father where he was concerned about his son going to Yemen, consorting with extremists, and that he was not going to go back. We also though had other streams of information coming from intelligence channels that were little snippets. We may have had a partial name, we might have had an indication of a Nigerian, but there was nothing that brought it all together.
What we need to do as a government, and as a system, is to bring those -- that information together so when a father comes in with information and we have intelligence, we can map that up so that we stop individuals like Abdulmutallab from getting on a plane.
MORAN: But that is exactly the conversation we had after 9/11, about connecting these disparate dots. You were one of the architects of the system put in place after that, the National Counterterrorism Center, that's where the failure occurred, right? The dots weren't connected.
BRENNAN: Well, in fact, prior to 9/11, I think there was reluctance on the part of a lot of agencies and departments for sharing information. There is no evidence whatsoever that any agency or department was reluctant to share.
MORAN: Including the NSA, where the NSA intercept shared with the National Counterterrorism Center?
BRENNAN: Absolutely. All of the information was shared, except that there are millions upon millions of bits of data that come in on a regular basis. What we need to do is make sure the system is robust enough that we can bring that information to the surface that really is a threat concern.
We need to make the system stronger. That's what the president is determined to do.
MORAN: You say millions upon millions of bits of data that -- Facebook has 350 million users who put out 3.5 billion pieces of content a week, and it's always drawing connections. In the era of Google, why does U.S. intelligence community not have the sophistication and power of Facebook?
BRENNAN: Well, in fact, we do have the sophistication and power of Facebook and well beyond that. That's why we're able to stop Mr. Najibullah Zazi, David Headley, other individuals from carrying out attacks, because we were able to do that on a regular basis.
In this one instance, the system didn't work. There were some human errors. There were some lapses. We need to strengthen it. But day in and day out, the successes are there. We are continuing to make progress against al Qaeda. And we've been very fortunate that we've been able to take advantage of the systems in place and the tremendous dedication of American men and women throughout the intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement communities.
As Americans were able to enjoy their holidays, watching football games, spending time with their families, these dedicated Americans were working around the clock to protect their fellow Americans.