President Barack Obama directed U.S. intelligence agencies to set clearer lines of responsibility for following up leads on terrorist threats and streamline the criteria for adding names to watch lists.
Obama said he is taking the actions to correct the “systemic” failures that allowed a Nigerian man who had been linked to an al-Qaida group to board a plane bound for Detroit with explosives hidden under his clothes.
The president, outlining his administration’s response to the failed attack on Dec. 25, said agencies and their leaders will be held accountable.
“I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes,” he said in a 12-minute address at the White House. “As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility.”
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian man, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for trying to destroy a Northwest Airlines plane.