Complete text of the president's remarks on air travel security - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Complete text of the president's remarks on air travel security

December 29, 2009

Yesterday I updated the American people on the immediate steps we took, the increased screening and security of air travel, to keep our country safe in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day.

And I announced to our viewers, a review of our terrorist watch list system and review of our air travel screening, so we can find out what went wrong, fix it, and prevent future attacks.  Those reviews began on Sunday and are now under way.

Earlier today, I issued the former guidelines for those reviews, and directed the preliminary findings be provided to the White House by this Thursday.

It's essential that we diagnose the problems quickly, and deal with them immediately.

The more comprehensive formal reviews and recommendations for improvement will be completed in the coming weeks and I'm committed to working with congress and our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security communities to take all necessary steps to protect the country.

I wanted to speak to the American people again today, because some of this preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns.

It's been widely reported that the father of the suspect in the Christmas incident warned U.S. officials in Africa about his son's extremist views.

It now appears that weeks ago, this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed as to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list.

There appears to be other deficiencies as well.

Even without this one report, there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together.

We've achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists, and potential terrorist attacks.

But it's becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.

Had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence, and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged.

The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would never have been allowed to board that plane for America.

The professionalism of the men and women in our intelligence, counterterrorism, and law enforcement and homeland security communities is extraordinary.

They are some of the most hard working, most dedicated Americans that I've ever met.

In pursuit of our security here at home, they risk their lives, day in, day out, in this country, and around the world.

Few Americans see their work, but all Americans are safer because of their successes.

They have targeted and taken out violent extremists, they have disrupted plots and saved countless American lives, they're making real and daily progress in our mission to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world.

And for this, every American owes them a profound and lasting debt of gratitude.

moreover, as secretary Napolitano said, once the suspect attempted to take down flight 253, after his attempt, it's clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions.

But what's also clear is this, when our government has information on a known extremist, and that information is not shared, and acted upon as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane

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