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Obama Acknowledges Government Screw-Up

President Obama just acknowledged that the government messed up in not passing along information intelligence agents had about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day.

While we already knew that Abdulmutallab’s father, a retired banker in Nigeria, had warned U.S. authorities about his son’s extremist views, “it now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, and it was not sufficiently distributed” through the homeland security system, President Obama said in a speech this afternoon. As a result, Abdulmutallab did not land on the government’s no-fly list — although he should have, said the president.

“We’ve achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorists attacks,” said Obama, but “the system is not sufficiently up to date to take advantage of the information we have.” If it had been, “a fuller clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged” and “the suspect never would have been allowed to board that plane to America.”

Obama will no doubt be criticized for referring to Abdulmutallab as “the suspect” instead of “the terrorist” — he was denounced this morning on Fox & Friends for using the big word “allegedly” instead of simply presuming the man’s guilt in plain English and in a more “presidential” fashion.

But unlike his predecessor after the 9/11 attacks, Obama is acknowledging quickly where things went wrong, and now promises to do something about it.

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