Obama Briefed on Security Breakdown Amid Criticism

National security team briefs vacationing Obama about Christmas Day breach.

ByABC News
December 30, 2009, 5:44 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2009— -- President Obama received initial reports today on the security breakdown that allowed the "underwear bomber" to board a plane bound for America, and he will meet with his chiefs of intelligence early next week to discuss how to prevent what he called the "systemic failures" in the future.

Obama received the reports from his national security team while vacationing in Hawaii. The reports are in response to two reviews he ordered looking at how U.S. intelligence organizations failed to connect the dots which could have prevented suspected bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding flight 253 on Christmas Day.

"We've gotten some additional information since yesterday, but not all of the agencies preliminary results are in," said a senior White House official. "The president got an update this morning from both John Brennan, his counterterrorism and homeland security advisor, and a separate phone call from [Homeland Security] Secretary [Janet] Napolitano, who is running the detection capabilities review."

The president will hold a meeting next Tuesday in the White House situation room with the heads of each of the national security agencies and other relevant cabinet members and staff.

The official said each agency is feeding their raw information to the president, but will present him with a comprehensive document on Tuesday.

"Frankly, I think a number of agencies will be working right up to 11:59 tonight" in order to get their reviews done, the official said today. "The president will be reviewing them himself in kind of this raw form."

Obama took three days to comment on the failed bomb attempt, prompting many Republicans to criticize him for not appropriately responding to systemic problems, which have been known about since 9/11.

Former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich laid blame for the Dec. 25 incident at the feet of Attorney General Eric Holder and Napolitano on "Good Morning America" today, saying "there's a fundamental mismatch between the dangers we face and this administration's inability ... to confront how difficult this war is."

Gingrich, who insists the United States is "in a war situation," criticized the Obama administration's plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, repatriate some detainees to Yemen and try others in U.S. criminal courts. "This is just not competent," he said.