obama cabinet meeting 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
US President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday changes to his countries airport security measures, and admitted the American intelligence community failed on Christmas Day in what almost became a massive terror attack.
"The bottom line is this: The US government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots," Obama said during a press conference which followed reviews of the incident when Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab almost downed an airliner with explosives hidden in his underwear.
"This was not a failure to collect intelligence," Obama said, "it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had. ....That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it."
Obama listed steps his administration intends to take, including expansion of the US "no-fly" list to include people with a profile similar to Abdulmutallab's, enhanced screening for any passengers wishing to fly to the US from a list of "countries of interest," additional security on all domestic or US-bound international flights, and an automatic check of terrorism suspects to determine whether they possess valid US visas.
"In the days ahead," the US president said, "I will announce further steps to disrupt attacks, including better integration of information and enhanced passenger screening for air travel."
The changes, especially the addition of more names to airline watch lists, prompted accusations by rights groups that the administration is profiling passengers on the basis of nationality and faith.
Shortly after Obama made the statement, Cuba summoned the top US diplomat on the island to protest extra screening for Cuban citizens flying into the US, calling the rule a "hostile action" meant to justify America's trade embargo.
Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's North American affairs office, said the new security controls were "discriminatory and selective."
"We categorically reject this new hostile action by the government of the United States against Cuba," she told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.