Obama Starts 2010 Under Fire for Security Failures

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama began the New Year under fire for the U.S. intelligence community's failure to stop a Nigerian man suspected of trying to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day.

The president is reviewing what broke down and seeking solutions for mending what he has called 'a systemic failure.'

Security Shortcomings

At a minimum the review is expected to lead to much better cooperation between intelligence agencies and deeper digging into facts about people who might be a threat.

Shortcomings in these areas allowed Nigerian terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab slip through America's security net.

Former 9/11 commission Tom Kean says he is reminded of the days before the September 11 attacks.

"They've got to coordinate their information; they've got to connect the dots," Kean said. "We cannot have another failure."

Earlier this week, Obama discussed the failure to share info about the Nigerian suspect.

"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," Obama said.

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

Tighter Airline Security

Meanwhile, passengers are sure to face more scrutiny before boarding jets in the days ahead. Many seem ready for it.

"If it takes a little bit longer it's kind of the price you have to pay for safety," one passenger said.

"(I'm) absolutely anxious about flying, again for the first time in my life because I now believe the system is terribly, terribly broken," another said.

Fliers are much more likely to face a full-body scan, with more scanning machines already being rolled out around the nation.

The screening devices would have been put in more airports sooner, but there's been resistance.

"We haven't fully deployed it to the public for reasons that the public has not been supportive of it. That I think is probably going to have to change," former TSA head Kip Hawley said.

Still, passengers will be permitted to refuse a scan and opt for a pat-down instead.

However, a pat down wouldn't have detected the bomb-materials hidden in Abdulmutallab's underwear.

"Does anybody seriously think you're going to have pat-downs at a level of intimacy that is going to allow us to find this stuff?" former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich challenged.

Congress to Hold Security Hearings

Lawmakers will be holding hearings on air security as soon as they return in mid-January. But some are already making suggestions for how to increase air safety in the New Year.

Some want the list of 16,000 people who are marked for more scrutiny at airport screenings to be vastly expanded.

But such a move could mean even longer waits getting through security. Some passengers have already begun preparing for that possibility.

One flyer said, "That's why we're here early. We came like three hours early."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.