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Obama to discuss plans to thwart terrorist attacks

Obama to discuss plans to thwart terrorist attacks

Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 8:01 pm
By: AP

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama prepared today to tell the public how he plans to thwart future terrorist attacks after an alleged terrorist attempt to destroy a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas Day. The president also was to outline changes to the lists of suspected terrorists that the government maintains to enhance domestic security, the White House said. Fresh from a Hawaiian vacation dominated by news of the Christmas incident, Obama was meeting this afternoon with high-ranking government officials charged with carrying out two reviews he ordered after the botched attack — on screening for airline passengers and on the U.S. terror watch-list system. Obama was to outline his findings for the public after the meeting, the White House said. The Transportation Security Administration already has directed airlines, effective Monday, to give full-body, pat-down searches to U.S.-bound travelers from Yemen, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and 11 other countries. White House officials, while eager to portray Obama as aggressive on the issue, also sought to minimize expectations for the president’s remarks. He planned no big airline security announcement, officials said. Since the attempted attack, the government has added dozens of names to its lists of suspected terrorists and those barred from flights bound for the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, CIA Director Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert Mueller are among the 20 high-level officials expected to meet with Obama in the White House Situation Room. Attorney General Eric Holder; Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence; Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center; national security adviser James Jones; and John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism adviser, also were to attend. Obama will get updates on the investigation from Mueller, on the prosecution from Holder and on the review of terrorist detection techniques from Napolitano. Brennan will update the president on his own review of the system of watch lists and outline his initial findings. Agency heads will comment on their internal reviews. Obama prepared Monday afternoon by meeting privately with national security aides. The addition of names to the government’s terrorist watch list and the no-fly list came after U.S. officials scrutinized a larger database of suspected terrorists, an intelligence official said Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. People on the watch list are subject to additional scrutiny before they are allowed to enter this country, while anyone on the no-fly list is barred from boarding aircraft in or headed for the United States. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who claims ties to al-Qaida, remained in federal custody, charged with trying to destroy the Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit. He is alleged to have smuggled an explosive device on board the aircraft and set if off, but the device sparked only a fire and not the intended explosion. Abdulmutallab’s name was in the U.S. database of about 550,000 suspected terrorists, but was not on a list that would have subjected him to additional security screening or kept him from boarding the flight altogether. That omission prompted a review of the National Counterterrorism Center’s massive Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database. On the Net: Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.gov Published in The Messenger 1.5.10

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