Rep. Clarke Releases Statement on White House Review on Foiled Terror Plot aboard Northwest Airline Flight 253
Today the White House released a declassified review detailing report security and intelligence gaps surrounding the foiled terror plot aboard Northwest Airline flight 253. Rep Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement:
“This report reveals many security gaps and a break down in our intelligence information sharing system surrounding the Christmas Day Terror Plot. I agree with the Obama Administration for calling these failures totally unacceptable and it is clear that the American public deserve better. I am thankful that the President took full responsibility for the failure surrounding the event and I am confident that his team plans to fully implement the recommendations highlighted in the report, correcting the vulnerabilities in our intelligence and security systems going forward. It is clear that our administration needs to strengthen our intelligence gathering tools and security stop gaps, particularly our terrorist watch list system.
“In the case of the Christmas Day Terror Plot, suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab 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. For example, 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 points. Likewise, the list is filled with names of innocent people that are repeated misidentified as terrorists.
“Since joining the Homeland Security Committee in 2007, I have worked on initiatives to rectify discrepancies within watch list system. This February, the House passed my bill H.R.559. “Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely Redress Act of 2009 or the FAST Redress Act of 2009.” Unfortunately, the Senate has not yet acted on the bill. The legislation would establish a redress process for those who feel they have been misidentified as a terrorist and establish a comprehensive “cleared” list. We must clean up the watch list system so that we can identify those like Mr. Abdulmutallab, who certainly should have been on the no fly list. Otherwise, identifying future terrorists will be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.
“Information sharing and intergovernmental communication will be key in our defense against those who seek to bring terror and harm to our shores. I commend the President for taking full responsibility for the breach and committing all available resources to ensuring it never happens again. We also need clear leadership at the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. These two key administration posts must be filled as soon as possible in order to fully address these issues.
“As Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, I look forward to thoroughly participating in a congressional review surrounding failed Christmas Day Terror Plot as well as holding all U.S agencies accountable in completely addressing all vulnerabilities in our security systems.”