As suspected Northwest Airlines bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, gets ready to make his first appearance in court Friday, President Barack Obama is taking blame for the intelligence breakdown that allowed the botched bombing attempt Christmas Day.
"Ultimately the buck stops with me," Obama declared. "As president I have responsibility to protect the people. When the system fails, it is my responsibility."
He is promising to fix problems with airline screening and watch lists.
The president's top counter-terrorism chief, John Brennan, also took responsibility and pledged to do better.
"I told the president today I let him down," Brennan said Thursday.
Results of an internal investigation into the attempted terrorist attack revealed that the government had sufficient information before the attack to disrupt the 23-year old Nigerian from boarding that flight to Detroit.
"Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had," Obama said.
Obama has pledged to improve intelligence gathering and security screenings at airports and a strengthening of terrorism watchlists.
Meanwhile, Abdulmutallab is being arraigned in a Detroit federal court Friday. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
While Obama has tried to strike a balance between stressing accountability and resisting the urge to point fingers, he says the changes needed to keep the American people safe must take place immediately.