Director of National Intelligence Blair Responds to President’s Comments

Jan 8, 2010 9:18am

"That Mr. Abdulmutallab boarded Northwest Flight 153 for Detroit was a failure of the counterterrorism system," the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair (ret.), said in a statement last night.

Of course, it was Northwest Flight 253, not 153.

(As first noticed by ABC News' Pentagon reporter Luis Martinez.)

More importantly, Blair acknowledges the failure of the intelligence community that allowed Abdulmutallab to board that flight.

"We had strategic intelligence that al Qa’ida in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) had the intention of taking action against the United States. We did not direct more resources against AQAP, nor insist that the watchlisting criteria be adjusted. The Intelligence Community analysts who were working hard on immediate threats to Americans in Yemen did not understand the fragments of intelligence on what turned out later to be Mr. Abdulmutallab, so they did not push him onto the 'no fly' list."

Blair says he's been "tasked to oversee and manage work in four areas:

• "Assigning clear lines of responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats, so they are pursued more aggressively;

• "Distributing intelligence reports more quickly and widely, especially those suggesting specific threats against the U.S.;

• "Applying more rigorous standards to analytical tradecraft to improve intelligence integration and action; and

• "Enhancing the criteria for adding individuals to the terrorist watchlist and “no fly” watchlist."

– jpt

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