“The attempted attack on Christmas Day is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since Sept. 11, 2001,” said Secretary Napolitano. “These recommendations will strengthen aviation security—at home and abroad—through new partnerships, technology and law enforcement efforts.”
Secretary Napolitano outlined the following five recommendations:
•Re-evaluate and modify the criteria and process used to create terrorist watch lists—including adjusting the process by which names are added to the “No-Fly” and “Selectee” lists.
•Establish a partnership on aviation security between DHS and the Department of Energy and its National Laboratories in order to develop new and more effective technologies to deter and disrupt known threats and proactively anticipate and protect against new ways by which terrorists could seek to board an aircraft.
•Accelerate deployment of advanced imaging technology to provide greater explosives detection capabilities—and encourage foreign aviation security authorities to do the same—in order to identify materials such as those used in the attempted Dec. 25 attack. The Transportation Security Administration currently has 40 machines deployed throughout the United States, and plans to deploy at least 300 additional units in 2010.
•Strengthen the presence and capacity of aviation law enforcement—by deploying law enforcement officers from across DHS to serve as Federal Air Marshals to increase security aboard U.S.-bound flights.
•Work with international partners to strengthen international security measures and standards for aviation security.
Secretary Napolitano will travel to Spain later this month to meet with her international counterparts in the first of a series of global meetings intended to bring about broad consensus on new international aviation security standards and procedures.
Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman and other senior Department officials already have embarked on a broad international outreach effort to 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 U.S.-bound flights and work on ways to collectively bolster tactics for defeating terrorists.
Secretary Napolitano’s recommendations come in addition to the Department’s immediate actions following the attempted attack on Dec. 25, 2009—including enhanced security measures at domestic airports and new international security directives that mandate enhanced screening of every individual flying into the United States from or through nations that are State Sponsors of Terrorism or other countries of interest and the majority of all passengers traveling on U.S.-bound flights.
Message from Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair
The President has completed his preliminary review and briefed the nation regarding the
Abdulmutallab attempted terrorist attack on December 25. He has directed me to lead the Intelligence Community’s work in improving our procedures and systems to detect and prevent a similar attempt from succeeding.
That Mr. Abdulmutallab boarded Northwest Flight 153 for Detroit was a failure of the counterterrorism system. We had strategic intelligence that al Qa’ida in the Arab Peninsula
(AQAP) had the intention of taking action against the United States. We did not direct more resources against AQAP, nor insist that the watchlisting criteria be adjusted. The Intelligence
Community analysts who were working hard on immediate threats to Americans in Yemen did not understand the fragments of intelligence on what turned out later to be Mr. Abdulmutallab, so they did not push him onto the “no fly” list.
We will take a fresh and penetrating look at strengthening both human and technical performance and do what we have to do in all areas. I have specifically been tasked to oversee and manage work in four areas:
• Assigning clear lines of responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats, so they are pursued more aggressively;
• Distributing intelligence reports more quickly and widely, especially those suggesting specific threats against the U.S.;
• Applying more rigorous standards to analytical tradecraft to improve intelligence integration and action; and
• Enhancing the criteria for adding individuals to the terrorist watchlist and “no fly” watchlist.
While the December 25 attempt exposed improvement needs and flaws in coordination, it did not expose weakness in the concepts of intelligence reform or suggest that its progress should be redirected. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) and the progress of the past five years will continue to guide our future improvements.
As the White House review stated, “the work by America’s counterterrorism (CT) community has had many successes since 9/11 that should be applauded… On a great number of occasions since 9/11, many of which the American people will never know about, the tremendous, hardworking corps of analysts across the CT community did just that, working day and night to track terrorist threats and run down possible leads in order to keep their fellow American safe.” I strongly agree.
The review also recognizes the barriers to information sharing that existed just five years ago, which we have worked so hard to dismantle, have indeed been broken down.
The job of collecting, analyzing, and integrating information on a global scale is difficult, and this community performs that work at high levels every day. We will sustain our dedication and professionalism to the tasks we now face. We will leverage this challenge to emerge even stronger and more able to provide the support to national security that President Obama hailed as critical to our future.
We will meet this challenge. I am confident that together we will deliver to the President the improvements he has called for.