Obama Commands Intel Community to Do Better

Updated 6:00 p.m. ET

President Obama didn't offer much in the way of shock, as promised by White House national security adviser James Jones, in discussing the outcome of an investigation into the missed clues that potentially could have prevented Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from ever boarding the Northwest airline flight to Detroit.

The president chose to blame the system, rather than any individuals or agencies.

"I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer, for ultimately the buck stops with me. As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility," he said.

"The U.S. government had the information scattered throughout the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had," Mr. Obama said.

He outlined four corrective measures across multiple agencies that seek to improve on the procedures and systems already in place. He also said that there was no "silver bullet" that could keep America totally safe.

"There's no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights into America each day, domestic and international," Mr. Obama said. He noted that the government has allocated an additional $1 billion in new systems and technologies for baggage and passenger screening, and more advanced explosive detection capabilities.

In effect, the president told the relevant agencies to do better in being able to connect those dots, a point underscored by John Brennan, the president's top counterterrorism adviser, in a briefing with reporters following Mr. Obama's remarks.

"The president has told us that we must do better," Brennan said. "I told the president today, I let him down. I am the president's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, and I told him that I will do better and we will do better as a team."

Summary of White House Review
Directive from President Obama
Special Report: The Christmas Day Terror Attack

The changes include:

• Directing the intelligence community to immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively not just most of the time, but all of the time.

• Distributing intelligence reports, especially those involving potential threats to the United States, more rapidly and more widely. "We can't sit on information that could protect the American people," he said.

• Strengthening the analytical process, how analysts process and integrate the intelligence that they receive.

• Strengthening the criteria used to add individuals to our terrorist watch lists, especially the no-fly list. "We must do better in keeping dangerous people off airplanes, while still facilitating air travel," Mr. Obama said.

"So taken together, these reforms will improve the intelligence community's ability to collect, share, integrate, analyze and act on intelligence swiftly and effectively," he concluded.

Denny Blair, director of national intelligence will coordinate the day-to-day efforts.

Following Mr. Obama's remarks, the CIA also released a statement on the agencies plans following the review.

"Before the Detroit incident, the CIA collected and shared information about Abdulmutallab with other agencies. The CIA has taken a close look at how we can do even more to support our government's efforts to disrupt terrorist plots," said CIA spokesman George Little.

Little also noted a series of immediate measures ordered by CIA Director Leon Panetta, which include formally disseminating information on suspected extremists and terrorists within 48 hours, expanding name traces on possible extremists and terrorists, reviewing information on individuals and their status on watchlists and increasing the number of analysts focused on Yemen and Africa.

More on Obama's Remarks and the Report:

Obama: "We Are at War"
John Brennan: I Told Leiter to Take Leave
Brennan: Yemen's Al Qaeda Is "Lethal" and "Concerning"
Transcript: Obama on Intelligence Failures
Full Obama Video
Analysis from CBS News' Bob Schieffer and Bob Orr

Daniel Farber is editor-in-chief of CBSNews.com.

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