The former Republican who chaired the 9/11 Commission during the Bush administration said Sunday that the recent failed terror plot aboard a U.S. airliner helped the United States refocus on counterterrorism amid other pressing national concerns.
“We had an administration which was not focused, as it should be, on terrorism and that’s understandable,” said Kean, the former governor of New Jersey, who was appointed to head the National Commission on Terror Attacks against the United States in 2002. “They were focused on health care and global warming and the economy. That’s very understandable. Secondly, we weren’t really focused on Yemen and the terrible things that are happening there. Now we are and that’s a good thing. And, thirdly, there were holes obviously and the [intelligence-gathering] system wasn’t working well. We found out it wasn’t working well, and the president understands it’s not working well and now we’re focused on fixing it.”
Kean said that Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, sounded “a bit defensive” in his descriptions of the administration’s efforts to thwart terrorism before the failed attempt by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, to set off an explosive on an airplane about to land in Detroit.
The 23-year-old Nigerian wannabe terrorist “probably did us a favor,” Kean said.