No "smoking gun" before Christmas bombing plot

11:02, January 04, 2010      

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A White House advisor defended the U.S. intelligence community's counterterrorism efforts on Sunday, saying they did not miss "smoking gun" leading to the plot to blow up a U.S. international flight on Christmas.

"There is no smoking gun," said John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top advisor on counterterrorism affairs, in a CNN program. "There was no single piece of intelligence that said, 'this guy is going to get on a plane.'"

Brennan is currently leading a government investigation into the case that a 23-year-old Nigerian attempted to set off an explosive device on a Delta/Northwest flight from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Detroit, the U.S. state of Michigan, on Dec. 25.

However, he admitted that "lapses" and errors existed in the sharing of intelligence after the suspect's father went to U.S. embassy officials to report his son's radical plot against the United States.

After the incident, intelligence agencies in the Obama administration were questioned and blamed for not using the clues to prevent the bombing attempt from happening.

Brennan noted that unlike the situation before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when intelligence agencies failed to share tips and information that might have uncovered the plot, there was "no evidence whatsoever that any agency or department was reluctant to share" information before the Christmas bombing plot happened.

"In this one instance, the system didn't work. There were some human errors. There were some lapses. We need to strengthen it. But day in and day out, the successes are there," he said.

On the anti-terror cooperation with Yemen, where the al-Qaeda branch in the Arabian Peninsula that claimed to have trained and equipped the Christmas bomber is based, Brennan clarified that the United States is not opening a new front against al-Qaeda in Yemen and has no plans to send troops there.

"I wouldn't say we're opening a second front. This is a continuation of an effort that we had underway, as I said, since the beginning of the (Obama) administration," he told another TV program on Fox News.

"We're not going to let al-Qaeda continue to make gains in Yemen because we need to take whatever steps necessary to protect our citizens there as well as abroad," he added.

Source: Xinhua
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