US President Barack Obama will today receive a preliminary report on how a 23-year-old Nigerian with suspected terrorist ties managed to board a plane he is accused of attempting to bomb on Christmas Day, along with recommendations on how to prevent a sequel.
The report is just the first step in what is shaping up to be an Obama-led effort to change and challenge US intelligence practices after an attack that failed not because of anti-terrorism policies, but rather despite them.
Administration officials said the system to protect America’s skies from terrorists was deeply flawed and, even then, the government failed to follow its own directives.
The White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser was scheduled to send Mr Obama a first summary of efforts to track more than half a million potential terrorists who would harm the United States.
Officials said it was unlikely Mr Obama would speak publicly about the report, although the vacationing president likely would talk several times throughout the day with his national security team.
Mr Obama has demanded answers on why information never was pieced together by the US intelligence community that could have prevented terrorist suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound airliner, from ever getting on the plane.
Mr Obama called the situation “totally unacceptable” when he met with reporters on Tuesday and put his top intelligence officials on notice that he wanted changes.
Administration officials have spent the last week poring over reams of data, looking for failings that allowed Abdulmutallab to board the Northwest Airlines flight from Nigeria by way of Amsterdam.
Officials have been sending their after-action details to John Brennan, Mr Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, who has emerged at the centre of a review that may call for significant changes to US intelligence programmes.
Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s group, claimed it was behind the attempt to bomb the Northwest airliner.