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Obama Briefed on Christmas Bomb Plot

(CBS/ AP)
Updated 4:56 p.m. Eastern Time

President Obama was briefed this morning by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan on the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

In a statement, the president said the two discussed "preliminary assessments" of the "human and systematic failures" that occurred leading up to the alleged bombing attempt by 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

The president also spoke to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who he said updated him "on both the Department of Homeland Security review of detection capabilities and the enhanced security measures in place since the Christmas Day incident."

Mr. Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, said he plans to receive several more assessments from various agencies later in the day. He said he will review them this evening and over the weekend.

A senior administration official told reporters that the president is continuing to learn new things about the situation but declined to characterize his state of mind. The official said the president is very focused on the issue and has been asking probing questions about security breakdowns.

The president also announced he will meet with relevant agency heads in Washington Tuesday to discuss efforts to address the situation.

The discussion, he said, will include an examination of "security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements in our homeland security and counterterrorism operations."

Reports to the president are expected to address how Abdulmutallab was allowed to board the airplane with explosives despite multiple red flags having been raised about him before the attempted attack.

Officials are expected to focus on better information sharing between agencies and making sure databases are matched efficiently in order to maximize the overall intelligence picture.

The senior administration official who spoke to reporters said there will be accountability once a fuller picture of what happened emerges. A final report is not expected for weeks.

In a separate release Thursday, Napolitano announced that three senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security will "meet with leaders from major international airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America to review security procedures and technology being used to screen passengers on flights bound for the United States."

"As part of the ongoing review to determine exactly what went wrong leading up to Friday's attempted terrorist attack, we are looking not only at our own processes, but also beyond our borders to ensure effective aviation security measures are in place for U.S-bound flights that originate at international airports," she said.

Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute and Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman will travel to Europe Monday to begin the process. There they will brief European officials on U.S. findings and gather information on the measures being taken at airports abroad.

After the attempted bombing, the Transportation Security Administration directed airports to implement enhanced security measures, including increased gate pat-downs and bag searches and the option for greater restrictions on movement while in flight. Some of the measures were designed to be "varied and unpredictable."

Additional law enforcement officials at airports, air marshals and explosives detection canine teams were also deployed.

In addition, officials "rescrubbed lists" to elevate certain individuals to the selectee and no fly lists, according to a senior official with the president in Hawaii.

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