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Obama vows to repair intelligence gaps behind Detroit airplane incident
Until last week, the administration had boasted about its anti-terrorism efforts, especially its arrest of a young Afghan in Colorado who had visited an al-Qaeda training camp. But officials expressed frustration about the way the Detroit incident unfolded politically and redoubled their efforts to show that the administration is seizing control of the problems and their solutions.
"Everybody recognizes that when a person gets on a plane with explosives, that was a failure," said senior presidential adviser David Axelrod.
An al-Qaeda affiliate that operates in Saudi Arabia and Yemen took responsibility for the airline attack in a statement this week that U.S. intelligence officials deem credible. The Obama administration agreed Tuesday with that assessment, with a senior official telling reporters on the condition of anonymity that the government had received new information Monday night "that spoke to both where the suspect had been, what some of his thinking and plans were, [and] what some of the plans of al-Qaeda were."
Abdulmutallab remains in a Detroit area prison and, after initial debriefings by the FBI, has restricted his cooperation since securing a defense attorney, according to federal officials.
The British government has stepped back from initial statements that it had passed along its concerns after Abdulmutallab was denied a visa in May. The denial, sources said, was based on immigration issues, rather than terrorism concerns, and Abdulmutallab was listed only on a domestic watch list that is not routinely transmitted to foreign intelligence services.
A Yemeni official said his government had no indication from foreign intelligence operatives that Abdulmutallab had engaged in suspicious behavior.
Kornblut reported from Hawaii. Staff writer Michael D. Shear and staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington and correspondent Sudarsan Raghavan in Yemen contributed to this report.