Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rep. Clarke Releases Statement on President Obama's Review of Foiled Terror Plot

(WASHINGTON, DC) – This week President Barack Obama called for two important reviews of the security measures surrounding the foiled terror plot aboard Northwest Airline flight 253. The first review will cover intelligence and information sharing procedures to find out why the suspect was allowed to board a plane for the U.S., so we can strengthen the overall watch list system. The second review will cover aviation security procedures to find out how the suspect was able to board with dangerous explosives, so we can improve air travel security screening. Rep Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement:

“I applaud President Obama’s decision to review the security measures surrounding the attempted terror attack that took place on December 25th aboard Northwest Airline Flight 253. The incident has highlighted several critical security and information sharing gaps that must be closed in order to protect Americans from further tragedy at the hands of terrorists.

“Yesterday, President Obama acknowledged the missteps that his administration took in respect to aviation security, noting that ‘…a systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable.’ Thankfully, the President and his team are now taking the necessary steps to fully understand how our security infrastructure was breached and how best to correct those vulnerabilities going forward.

"I am astounded that suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was permitted to board flight 253 with the chemical explosive PETN and a catalyst agent which if accurately activated, could have caused a powerful explosion. We must employ reasonable security measures that would detect chemical and biological agents. I am also concerned that no air marshals were on the flight and thankful that the President immediately ordered more federal air marshals be placed on domestic and international flights. The President also called for immediate enhanced screening and security procedures for all domestic and international flights.

“While the breach highlighted inadequacies in our physical security systems, it also showed a break down in our intelligence information sharing system. Abdulmutallab’s own father reportedly informed the State Department through the US Embassy in Nigeria that he believed his son had been “radicalized” and went to Yemen for “jihad”, yet U.S. officials did not flag the young man’s visa, which was valid through mid 2010. This is extremely troubling given that Britain recently denied the young man’s student visa renewal request and Mr. Abdulmutallab was on that country’s watch list. This breach has made it absolutely clear that we must do more to synergize and streamline our national and international counterterrorism information sharing systems.

“Even more alarming, Mr. Abdulmutallab, who claims ties to Al-Qaeda, was in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database, but was not on the Transportation Security Administration’s "no-fly" list. The database and related watch lists have long been plagued with systemic misidentification and information sharing problems. A terrorist suspect can be on the “no fly” list, but not on the list used by border patrol officers who control vehicle traffic coming into our country from our northern and southern border entry

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