President Obama began receiving preliminary reports Thursday from a security review he ordered following the foiled attempt to blow up a commercial airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day.
Obama held separate phone conversations with homeland security and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to hear their assessments of how a 23-year-old Nigerian suspect was able to smuggle explosives onboard Northwest Flight 253 — and what gaps in the security system need to be addressed around the world.
While the president, who is vacationing in Hawaii, made no public comments on what his advisers told him, he said in a written statement that he plans to meet with intelligence and law enforcement officials Tuesday at the White House. Congressional hearings are also expected later this month.
Obama has spoken of the urgent need to fix whatever is broken and keep airline passengers safe from such attacks.
The incident on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit represents both a disaster averted and a reminder that lapses still occur, despite all of the steps taken and money spent to improve airport security since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
White House officials had anticipated starting the new year with an intense focus on the nation's still-sluggish economy and weak jobs picture. But the events of the past week — from the thwarted jetliner attack to the deadly bombing Wednesday that claimed the lives of seven CIA staffers in Afghanistan — will most likely keep the focus squarely on national security as 2010 gets under way.
The president sent a letter to CIA employees Thursday expressing condolences for the seven who died in the suicide attack at Camp Chapman in eastern Afghanistan.
Obama said the CIA has been tested as never before in recent years and described the fallen intelligence workers as brave Americans who were "part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life."