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Obama rages at plane bombing ''screw up''
Washington, Jan 6 (Agencies):
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Published on 6 Jan. 2010 10:52 PM IST
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An angry President Barack Obama has told American spy chiefs that they "screwed up" in failing to prevent the botched Christmas Day plane bombing. Mr Obama made the comments in a meeting with top US intelligence chiefs at the White House, during which he told them the country had "dodged a bullet" when the makeshift bomb in Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's underpants failed to explode over Detroit. Mr Obama, who later gave an angry statement on television to denounce intelligence failures ahead of the botched attack, also warned his officials that he would not stand for "finger pointing". The White House said agency chiefs admitted the shortcomings of their operations in their meeting with the President in the secure Situation Room. "This was a screw up that could have been disastrous," a White House official quoted Mr Obama as saying in the meeting. "We dodged a bullet, but just barely. It was averted by brave individuals, not because the system worked and that is not acceptable." The official added that Mr Obama had also said there would be a "tendency for finger pointing. I will not tolerate it." Speaking after the meeting this morning, Mr Obama said two probes into the botched plot showed US intelligence missed other "red flags" as well as the already revealed fact that the top suspect was an extremist who had travelled to Yemen. "It is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analysed or fully leveraged," he said in a terse televised statement. "That's not acceptable and I will not tolerate it." The President said US intelligence knew that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula wanted to strike not only US targets in Yemen but inside the United States itself. "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," he said. "In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence. It was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had. "When a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives on Christmas Day, the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way. "It's my responsibility to find out why and to correct that failure so that we can prevent such attacks in the future." Mr Obama also renewed his vow to close the Guantanamo Bay jail despite deciding to suspend transfers of prisoners to Yemen following the failed Christmas Day attack. The President said he had spoken to his attorney general Eric Holder and agreed that additional inmates of the camp in Cuba could not go back to Yemen due to the "unsettled situation" there. "But make no mistake, we will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for Al Qaeda," Mr Obama said. "In fact, that was an explicit rationale for the formation of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula." The decision on Guantanamo Bay, where nearly half of the remaining inmates are from Yemen, cast severe doubt on Mr Obama's plan to shut the camp, and he will this month miss a one-year deadline to carry out that promise.

 
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