Obama administration says Emirates Airlines Dropped the Ball; 9/11 Commission Vice-Chair Says U.S. Govt Is Dropping the Ball

By Gregory

May 4, 2010 6:42pm

Senior administration officials say that Faisal Shahzad was put on the no fly list on Monday at 12:30 pm ET.

So how was he able to board the Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai?

“It takes a few hours for the airlines system to catch up,” a senior administration official tells ABC news.

Another senior administration official adds that Emirates refreshes their system to update with US intelligence information periodically – but not frequently.

In any case, the first official says that airlines were “within minutes” of Shahzad being put on the no-fly list told to “look at a web-board” and manually check its passenger manifest against the news on the web board.

“That appears to not have happened” the official says. “For whatever reason there was a breakdown at the Emirates level.”

Emirates Airlines provided its locked-in passenger manifest to the Customs and Border Protection agency. The plane at that point can leave. But a CBP official caught Shahzad’s name on the manifest and the plane never left the gate.

“That redundancy is built in,” the official says. “It’s not luck it’s design. It was good work by CBP.”

Former 9/11 Commission vice chair and Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton seems less impressed.

Hamilton reminds ABC News that “the 9/11 commission recommended that you had to have biometric evidence, documentarian evidence of people coming in and exiting” the country. “We’ve done a pretty good job on the first part of it people entering the country. But with regard to those exiting the country we simply have not been able to set up a system to deal with that and it showed in this case.”

Hamilton says “we need to have in this country a system of checking people leaving the country so that we can protect against the very sort of thing that happened here — or at least almost happened here.”

- Jake Tapper and Avery Miller

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