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111th Congress 
 2d Session                      SENATE                          Report
                                                                111-199
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     


 
      ATTEMPTED TERRORIST ATTACK ON NORTHWEST AIRLINES FLIGHT 253

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                    SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS




                  May 24, 2010.--Ordered to be printed



                 DIANNE FEINSTEIN, California, Chairman
              CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, Missouri, Vice Chairman
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West         ORRIN HATCH, Utah
    Virginia                         OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
RON WYDEN, Oregon                    SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia
EVAN BAYH, Indiana                   RICHARD BURR, North Carolina
BARBARA A. MIKULSKI, Maryland        TOM COBURN, Oklahoma
RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin       JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho
BILL NELSON, Florida
SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, Rhode Island
                     HARRY REID, Nevada, Ex Officio
                 MITCH McCONNELL, Kentucky, Ex Officio
                    CARL LEVIN, Michigan, Ex Officio
                    JOHN McCAIN, Arizona, Ex Officio
                                 ------                                
                     David Grannis, Staff Director
                Louis B. Tucker, Minority Staff Director
                    Kathleen P. McGhee, Chief Clerk
                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                              United States Senate,
                          Select Committee on Intelligence,
                                      Washington, DC, May 20, 2010.
Hon. Robert C. Byrd,
President pro tempore,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. President: We are pleased to file today, as a 
Senate report, the Report of the Select Committee on 
Intelligence on the Attempted Terrorist Attack on Northwest 
Airlines Flight 253.
    Senate Resolution 400 of the 94th Congress (1976) charges 
the Committee with the duty to oversee and make continuing 
studies of the intelligence activities and programs of the 
United States Government, and to report to the Senate 
concerning those activities and programs. Pursuant to its 
responsibilities under Senate Resolution 400, the Committee has 
undertaken an in-depth examination of the matters described in 
the report.
    The portion of the report that we are submitting for 
printing is the unclassified Executive Summary and unclassified 
Additional Views. The remainder of the report contains highly 
classified information. For that reason it is being held in the 
secure facilities of the Select Committee on Intelligence where 
it will be available to Members of the Senate for reading. Both 
the unclassified and classified portions of the report are also 
being provided to appropriately cleared officials of the 
Executive Branch. Officials of the Executive Branch have 
already had an opportunity to review the report for 
classification purposes.
            Sincerely,
                                   Dianne Feinstein,
                                           Chairman.
                                   Christopher S. Bond,
                                           Vice Chairman.
                            C O N T E N T S

                              ----------                              
Committee Letter of Transmittal to Senate........................   III
Unclassified Executive Summary...................................     1
    Background...................................................     1
    Committee Investigation......................................     1
    Background on Report.........................................     1
    Findings and Conclusions.....................................     1
    Committee Action.............................................     3
    Note on Historical Hindsight.................................     3
    Unclassified Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations......     3
Unclassified Additional Views of Senators Chambliss and Burr.....    10
Unclassified Executive Summary of the Committee Report on the Attempted 
           Terrorist Attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253

    Background: On December 25, 2009, a 23-year-old Nigerian 
man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (hereafter Abdulmutallab) 
attempted to detonate a concealed nonmetallic device containing 
the explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) on Northwest 
Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, as the 
plane was descending into Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County 
Airport.
    Committee Investigation: Chairman Feinstein and Vice 
Chairman Bond of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 
(SSCI) announced on December 31, 2009, that the Committee would 
conduct hearings on the attempted Christmas Day terrorist 
attack and ``collect all intelligence related to Umar Farouk 
Abdulmutallab held by various intelligence agencies in order to 
determine who had what, and how the information was handled. In 
addition, the Committee [would] review national security 
policies on sharing information and terrorist 
watchlisting.''\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\SSCI Press Release, ``Intelligence Committee Announces Hearings 
into Failed Christmas Day Terrorism Attack,'' available at http://
intelligence.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=321274
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Background on Report: This report contains information 
gathered by the Committee through hearings, briefings, and 
document requests from the following agencies:
     Office of the Director of National Intelligence 
(ODNI)
     National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
     Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
     National Security Agency (NSA)
     Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
     Department of State
     Department of Homeland Security (DHS)--including 
agencies under its purview, such as the Transportation Security 
Administration (TSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 
and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A;).
    Findings and Conclusions: The Committee found there were 
systemic failures across the Intelligence Community (IC), which 
contributed to the failure to identify the threat posed by 
Abdulmutallab. Specifically, the NCTC was not organized 
adequately to fulfill its missions. Following 9/11, Congress 
created the NCTC and charged it with serving as ``the primary 
organization in the United States Government for analyzing and 
integrating all intelligence possessed or acquired by the 
United States Government pertaining to terrorism and 
counterterrorism. . . .''\2\ In practice, however, the 
Committee found that no one agency saw itself as being 
responsible for tracking and identifying all terrorism threats. 
In addition, technology across the IC is not adequate to 
provide search enhancing tools for analysts, which contributed 
to the failure of the IC to identify Abdulmutallab as a 
potential threat.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\50 U.S.C. 404o(d).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The SSCI report identifies fourteen specific points of 
failure--a series of human errors, technical problems, systemic 
obstacles, analytical misjudgments, and competing priorities--
which resulted in Abdulmutallab being able to travel to the 
United States on December 25, 2009. Those points of failure 
are:
    1. The State Department Did Not Revoke Abdulmutallab's U.S. 
Visa.
    2. Abdulmutallab Was Not Placed in the ``Terrorist 
Screening Database'' (TSDB), on the Selectee List, or on the No 
Fly List.
    3. Reporting Was Not Distributed to All Appropriate CIA 
Elements.
    4. A CIA Regional Division, at CIA Headquarters, Did Not 
Search Databases Containing Reports Related to Abdulmutallab.
    5. CIA Did Not Disseminate Key Reporting Until after the 
12/25 Attempted Attack.
    6. A CIA Counterterrorism Center (CTC) Office's Limited 
Name Search Failed to Uncover the Key Reports on Abdulmutallab.
    7. CIA CTC Analysts Failed to Connect the Reporting on 
Abdulmutallab.
    8. FBI Counterterrorism Analysts Could Not Access All 
Relevant Reports.
    9. NCTC's Directorate of Intelligence Failed to Connect the 
Reporting on Abdulmutallab.
    10. NCTC's Watchlisting Office Did Not Conduct Additional 
Research to Find Additional Derogatory Information to Place 
Abdulmutallab on a Watchlist.
    11. NSA Did Not Pursue Potential Collection Opportunities 
That Could Have Provided Information on Abdulmutallab.
    12. Analysts Did Not Connect Key Reports Partly Identifying 
Abdulmutallab and Failed to Ensure Dissemination of All 
Relevant Reporting.
    13. NSA Did Not Nominate Abdulmutallab for Watchlisting or 
the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) Based on 
Information Partly Identifying Him.
    14. Intelligence Analysts Were Primarily Focused on Al-
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Threats to U.S. Interests 
in Yemen, Rather than on Potential AQAP Threats to the U.S. 
Homeland.
    Based on the information provided, the Committee concludes 
that the Intelligence Community failed to connect and 
appropriately analyze the information in its possession prior 
to December 25, 2009 that would have identified Abdulmutallab 
as a possible terrorist threat to the United States. The 
Committee believes the IC, and other parts of the U.S. 
Government, should have taken steps to prevent Abdulmutallab 
from boarding Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, Michigan, on 
Christmas Day.
    Points of failure #1 and #2 relate to failures of the 
systems and procedures in place to prevent suspected terrorists 
from entering the United States. Points of failure #3 through 
#14 discuss why the relevant intelligence was not connected. 
Doing so may have led analysts to link sufficient threat and 
biographical information on Abdulmutallab to place him on the 
watchlists.
    Committee Action: On March 16, 2010, the Committee 
unanimously approved a 55-page report and provided it to the 
Intelligence Community for a classification review. This 
unclassified Executive Summary was prepared based on that 
Intelligence Community review.
    On May 18, 2010, the Committee unanimously approved a 
motion to report to the Senate its ``Report on the Attempted 
Terrorist Attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253'' which 
consists of (1) the publicly released unclassified Executive 
Summary together with Additional Views of Senators Chambliss 
and Burr, and (2) the previously adopted classified portion of 
the report which shall be retained by the Committee and 
available in its secure offices for reading by other Senators.
    In the classified portion of the Committee's report, each 
point of failure includes a description, a Committee 
conclusion, Committee recommendations, and a discussion of the 
corrective actions being taken by the Intelligence Community. 
Because the other parts of the report remain classified, this 
Executive Summary only contains unclassified portions of the 
Committee's conclusions and recommendations about each failure.
    The SSCI report also includes classified appendices which 
describe: (1) the intelligence collected on Abdulmutallab prior 
to the terrorist plot and what was or was not done with that 
intelligence; (2) the terrorist watchlisting process and 
standards as they existed at the time; and (3) additional 
biographical information on Abdulmutallab.
    In addition to the review conducted by the Committee, the 
Director of National Intelligence created an Intelligence 
Community Review Panel that was chaired by John McLaughlin, 
former Deputy Director of the CIA. That panel's report endorsed 
three of the specific classified recommendations made by the 
SSCI report. The panel also disagreed with one of the 
Committee's recommendations to expand access to certain 
counterterrorism information. The Committee stands by its 
recommendation.
    Note on Historical Hindsight: As is the case with many 
reports analyzing the past performance of the IC, the SSCI 
report presents information that was relevant to the Flight 253 
plot in hindsight. Briefers and intelligence officials stated 
frequently that the intelligence described in the classified 
SSCI report was among thousands of other intelligence reports 
and that other terrorist threats were assessed to be more 
pressing at the time. Thus, while the SSCI report presents the 
information as it was known, and as it could have been known, 
the Committee recognizes the benefit of ``20-20 hindsight'' in 
our evaluation of the IC's performance.
1. The State Department did not revoke Abdulmutallab's U.S. visa
            Conclusion:
    The State Department could have revoked Abdulmutallab's 
U.S. visa based on the information available to the Department. 
The State Department consular officer in Abuja, Nigeria should 
have used all of the tools available, including using ``fuzzy 
logic'' or a passport number, to search for a visa for 
Abdulmutallab. Had this occurred, it is likely that 
Abdulmutallab's active U.S. visa would have been located in the 
Department's database.
    The State Department has an independent obligation to 
evaluate a non-U.S. person's suitability for entry into the 
U.S., but instead relies on the IC's assessment of whether an 
individual meets the standard for placement on the terrorist 
watchlists. The Committee believes Abdulmutallab's visa should 
have been identified and revoked independently by the State 
Department based on the information provided to the consulate 
by other embassy officers, which included an assessment that 
Abdulmutallab should be watchlisted because of suspected 
``involvement with Yemeni-based extremists.''
            Recommendations:
     The State Department must use its independent 
judgment and authority to revoke visas for anyone suspected of 
being involved with terrorism or a terrorist group, and must be 
able to do so in real-time in coordination with the 
Intelligence Community.
     The Director of NCTC should make recommendations 
to deny or revoke a U.S. visa based on terrorism-related 
intelligence. In addition to exercising its own independent 
authority to revoke visas, the State Department should accept 
the Director of NCTC's recommendations.
     The State Department should develop a system for 
electronically notifying all airlines of individuals whose 
visas have been revoked.

2. Abdulmutallab was not placed in the ``Terrorist Screening Database'' 
        (TSDB), on the Selectee List, or on the No Fly List

            Conclusion:
    The standards to place an individual on the Terrorist 
Watchlists were interpreted too rigidly and may be too 
complicated to address terrorist threats. Although U.S. Embassy 
officials in Abuja recommended that Abdulmutallab be placed on 
the No Fly List, the determination was made at CIA Headquarters 
and at the NCTC Watchlisting Office that there was only 
sufficient derogatory information to enter Abdulmutallab's 
information in the general ``Terrorist Identities Datamart 
Environment'' (TIDE) database, but not sufficient derogatory 
information to place him on any of the watchlists. Because of 
the language of the watchlisting standard, the manner in which 
it was being interpreted at the time, or both, analysts 
responsible for making the watchlisting determination did not 
believe they had the ability to give additional weight to 
significant pieces of information from the field, such as the 
report that resulted from the meeting with Abdulmutallab's 
father.
            Recommendations:
     The Administration, in consultation with Congress, 
should simplify, strengthen, and add flexibility to 
watchlisting practices to better protect the U.S. homeland.
     Intelligence officers responsible for watchlisting 
terrorist suspects should have the flexibility to give added 
weight to significant information, such as recommendations from 
Chiefs of Station or other experienced intelligence 
professionals, in determining whether to place an individual on 
a watchlist.

3. Reporting was not distributed to all appropriate CIA elements

            Conclusion:
    The inconsistencies in distributing key intelligence 
reports may have contributed to the failure of the Intelligence 
Community to identify Abdulmutallab as a potential threat. 
While there was no intent to limit access to the reports, 
processes failed to disseminate relevant intelligence to all 
offices and individuals with a need to know.
            Recommendations:
     Classified recommendation excluded.

4. A CIA Regional Division (at CIA Headquarters) did not search 
        databases containing reports related to Abdulmutallab

            Conclusion:
    CIA had reports related to Abdulmutallab, but a regional 
division failed to search other databases that would have 
identified relevant information. CIA tasked this division with 
the responsibility, but not the tools to adequately identify 
terrorism-related reporting. Inadequate technological search 
tools and the fragmented nature of the Intelligence Community's 
databases made it difficult to find additional intelligence 
related to Abdulmutallab.
            Recommendations:
     The Director of the CIA should report to the 
congressional intelligence committees within 30 days on the 
increased access to its all-source counterterrorism database. 
The report should include the total number of personnel with 
increased access and the positions these individuals occupy.
     Classified recommendation excluded.

5. CIA did not disseminate key reporting until after the 12/25 
        attempted attack

            Conclusion:
    Had the CIA intelligence report been disseminated, other 
intelligence officers outside of the CIA and NCTC who tracked 
intelligence on Yemen and AQAP may have made the connection 
between the information provided.
            Recommendations:
     The CIA should set standards to ensure that all 
intelligence reports are disseminated promptly--within two days 
for counterterrorism and all other high priority issues.
     The CIA and other intelligence agencies must 
ensure that critical intelligence functions are not delayed 
when personnel are temporarily deployed to other assignments.
     The CIA should provide broader access to 
operational traffic for all analysts with a need to know, 
whether those analysts are employed by the CIA or by another 
agency in the Intelligence Community.

6. A CIA CTC office's limited name search failed to uncover the key 
        reports on Abdulmutallab

            Conclusion:
    CTC conducted a limited name search of CIA's all-source 
database, which included key reports on Abdulmutallab, to 
determine if there was other available information. Because of 
the limited nature of the search, it failed to uncover key 
reports on Abdulmutallab. Thus, CTC failed to draw the link 
between Abdulmutallab's father's information and the key 
reports.

7. CIA CTC analysts failed to connect reporting on Abdulmutallab

            Conclusion:
    The failure of CIA CTC analysts to connect the reporting 
contributed to the failure of the Intelligence Community to 
identify Abdulmutallab as a potential threat. Like other 
Intelligence Community analysts, according to CIA, CTC analysts 
were focused on Yemen-based AQAP-related threats and supporting 
operations to counter these threats.
            Recommendations for 6 and 7:
     The Director of the CIA should ensure that CIA 
personnel understand their responsibility to connect related 
all-source information and disseminate all possible threat 
reporting, particularly reports that might help identify 
homeland threats.
     The DNI should develop a comprehensive plan to 
implement advanced information technology systems that can draw 
connections among related intelligence reports and assist in 
the prioritization of terrorism threat streams. The DNI should 
notify congressional intelligence committees of the progress 
made in implementing the plan on a biannual basis.

8. FBI counterterrorism analysts could not access all relevant reports

            Conclusion:
    The misconfiguration of an analyst's computer profile 
prevented her from accessing relevant intelligence reports, 
despite their existence in FBI systems. Had the FBI 
counterterrorism analyst's computer profile been configured 
appropriately, the analyst may have been able to identify the 
threat stream on Abdulmutallab.
            Recommendations:
     The Director of the FBI should conduct a review of 
FBI's information technology systems to ensure all FBI analysts 
have access to the necessary intelligence databases and that 
the FBI information systems are appropriately configured to 
support intelligence analysis. The Director should provide a 
report to the congressional intelligence committees within 90 
days on the changes made as a result of this review.

9. NCTC's Directorate of Intelligence failed to connect the reporting 
        on Abdulmutallab

            Conclusion:
    NCTC personnel had the responsibility and the capability to 
connect the key reporting with the other relevant reporting. 
The NCTC was not adequately organized and did not have 
resources appropriately allocated to fulfill its missions.
    NCTC has the primary role within the IC to bring together 
and assess all-source terrorism-related intelligence. One of 
the NCTC's missions, as outlined in the Intelligence Reform and 
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), is:

          ``to serve as the primary organization in the United 
        States Government for analyzing and integrating all 
        intelligence possessed or acquired by the United States 
        Government pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism 
        . . .''\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\50 U.S.C. 404o(d).

    NCTC has the primary role within the IC to bring together 
and assess all-source terrorism-related intelligence. Prior to 
12/25, NCTC's Directorate of Intelligence was not staffed 
adequately and analysts were not tasked to track or identify 
all threat streams related to the AQAP threat to the U.S. 
homeland. Like other analysts in the Intelligence Community, 
NCTC's analysts were primarily focused on Yemen-based AQAP-
related threats.
            Recommendations:
     The Director of the NCTC should ensure that all 
NCTC analysts understand their responsibility to connect 
related all-source information and disseminate all possible 
threat reporting, particularly reports that might help identify 
homeland threats.
     The Director of the NCTC should ensure that NCTC 
is organized and resourced to fulfill its responsibility to 
track, analyze, and report on all terrorist threats to the 
United States emanating from terrorist groups overseas.
     Classified recommendation excluded.

10. NCTC's Watchlisting Office did not conduct additional research to 
        find additional derogatory information to place Abdulmutallab 
        on a watchlist

            Conclusion:
    NCTC had the responsibility and the capability to connect 
the key intelligence reporting with the other relevant 
reporting. Doing so could have produced sufficient information 
to recommend that Abdulmutallab be placed on the terrorist 
watchlists. The NCTC was not adequately organized and did not 
have resources appropriately allocated to fulfill its missions.
    Under IRTPA a primary role of the NCTC is:

          ``to serve as the central and shared knowledge bank 
        on known and suspected terrorists and international 
        terror groups.''\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\50 U.S.C. 404o(d).

    Prior to 12/25, NCTC's standard practice was to process 
watchlisting information it received, but not to conduct 
additional analysis or enhance existing records with more 
derogatory information. Thus, even though NCTC created a basic 
terrorist record for Abdulmutallab in TIDE, NCTC did not 
conduct additional research to identify other intelligence 
related to Abdulmutallab--intelligence that may have placed 
Abdulmutallab in the TSDB, and potentially on the Selectee 
List, or the No Fly List.
            Recommendations:
     NCTC should keep the congressional intelligence 
committees fully informed of resources needed to perform the 
watchlisting function without compromising its other missions.

11. NSA did not pursue potential collection opportunities that could 
        have provided information on Abdulmutallab

            Conclusion:
    NSA did not take all available actions which contributed to 
the failure of the Intelligence Community to identify 
Abdulmutallab as a potential threat.
            Recommendations:
     Classified recommendation excluded.
     Classified recommendation excluded.
     Classified recommendation excluded.

12. Analysts did not connect key reports partly identifying 
        Abdulmutallab and failed to ensure dissemination of all 
        relevant reporting

            Conclusion:
    The failure of analysts to connect and disseminate all 
relevant reports may have contributed to the failure of the 
Intelligence Community to identify Abdulmutallab as a potential 
threat.
            Recommendations:
     Classified recommendation excluded.
     Classified recommendation excluded.
     Classified recommendation excluded.

13. NSA did not nominate Abdulmutallab for watchlisting or the 
        Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) based on 
        information partly identifying him

            Conclusion:
    The policy of not making nominations to TIDE based on 
information partly identifying Abdulmutallab may have 
contributed to the failure of the Intelligence Community to 
identify him as a potential threat.
            Recommendations:
     NSA should immediately clear the backlog of 
reports that require review for watchlisting.
     NCTC should change its practices to allow for 
nominations to TIDE of partially identifying or other 
incomplete information to assist in enhancing terrorist 
identities records and other agencies should change their 
policies accordingly.

14. Intelligence analysts were primarily focused on AQAP threats to 
        U.S. interests in Yemen, rather than on potential AQAP threats 
        to U.S. homeland

            Conclusion:
    Analysts' competing priorities contributed to the failure 
of the Intelligence Community to identify Abdulmutallab as a 
potential threat. Prior to the 12/25 plot, counterterrorism 
analysts at NCTC, CIA, and NSA were focused on the threat of 
terrorist attacks in Yemen, but were not focused on the 
possibility of AQAP attacks against the U.S. homeland. These 
other priorities contributed to the failure of analysts to 
recognize and collate the several pieces of intelligence 
reporting that mentioned Abdulmutallab.
            Recommendations:
     The DNI should review the roles and 
responsibilities of counterterrorism analysts throughout the 
Intelligence Community to ensure that all agencies understand 
their counterterrorism role, their role in identifying and 
analyzing threats to the U.S. homeland, and that 
counterterrorism analysts actively collaborate across the 
Intelligence Community to identify such threats. This review 
should also investigate how to expand access to 
counterterrorism intelligence throughout the Intelligence 
Community, including whether counterterrorism analysts within 
each IC component should be provided access to all 
counterterrorism intelligence. In conducting this review, the 
DNI should be mindful of the intent of Congress to give NCTC 
the primary role and responsibility within the IC to bring 
together and assess all-source terrorism-related intelligence 
in IRTPA. The DNI should report the results of this review to 
congressional intelligence committees within 60 days.
     The DNI should examine whether adequate 
intelligence resources are directed against the homeland 
threat.
    [The classified portion of the report is available for 
reading by Members of the Senate in the offices of the Senate 
Select Committee on Intelligence]

            ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF SENATORS CHAMBLISS AND BURR

                             I. Background

    As is illustrated throughout this report, there were a 
number of technical or human errors by the CIA, NSA, the State 
Department, and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) 
which led to the Intelligence Community's collective failure to 
identify Abdulmutallab as a terrorist threat to the U.S. In 
testimony before Congress, DNI Blair stated that ``this was 
not--like in 2001--a failure to collect or share intelligence; 
rather it was a failure to connect, integrate, and understand 
the intelligence we had.'' However, as Members who participated 
in the Joint Inquiry of the Senate Select Committee on 
Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on 
Intelligence into Intelligence Community Activities Before and 
After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (the 
Congressional ``Joint Inquiry''), we respectfully disagree. 
Some of the systemic errors this review identified also were 
cited as failures prior to 9/11.
    Following 9/11, several investigations, including the 
Congressional Joint Inquiry, examined the intelligence failures 
that led to that atrocious attack, and, overwhelmingly, found 
that the Intelligence Community was severely inhibited by 
information stove-pipes, lacked effective technological tools, 
and in many cases was not aggressive enough to identify 
terrorist plots. These failures resulted in an Intelligence 
Community that was not well positioned to identify and disrupt 
terrorist threats.
    As a result of these findings, Congress passed the 
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). One 
of the primary goals of this legislation was to create one 
place in the Intelligence Community--the NCTC--where all 
terrorism related information could be integrated and analyzed. 
The IRTPA defines NCTC's primary missions, including:

          ``to serve as the primary organization in the United 
        States Government for analyzing and integrating all 
        intelligence possessed or acquired by the United States 
        Government pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism 
        .  .  .'' and
          ``to serve as the central and shared knowledge bank 
        on known and suspected terrorists and international 
        terror groups.''\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\50 U.S.C. 404o(d).

In addition, the IRTPA directs that the Director of NCTC shall 
have the role and responsibility to ``disseminate terrorism 
information, including current threat information'' and ``have 
primary responsibility within the United States Government for 
conducting net assessments of terrorist threats.''\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\50 U.S.C. 404o(f)(1)(G).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                 II. NCTC Failed To Fulfill Its Mission

    IRTPA was to have corrected the problems identified after 
9/11 by making NCTC responsible and accountable for all 
terrorism related intelligence analysis. Instead, the Committee 
found in this review that no one agency believes its analysts 
are responsible for tracking and identifying all terrorist 
threats, essentially the same problem identified six years ago 
by the 9/11 Commission, which found ``the intelligence 
community's confederated structure left open the question of 
who really was in charge of the entire U.S. intelligence 
effort''\3\ to combat terrorism.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 
The 9/11 Commission Report (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004). p. 93.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Despite its statutory mission, NCTC did not believe it was 
the sole agency in the IC for piecing together all terrorism 
threats. In fact, in a response to the Committee, NCTC stated, 
``no one entity within the IC has sole responsibility nor bears 
the entire burden of either connecting dots or accountability 
for failing to do so.''\4\ Further, NCTC stated to staff that 
it focused primarily on providing strategic, or high level, 
terrorism assessments, and providing support to senior 
policymakers. No one at NCTC was given responsibility for 
tracking all terrorist threats thoroughly or searching for 
additional intelligence related to a threat. NCTC's daily 
threat reports, ``Threats and Threads,'' tracked only the most 
serious threats. All lower priority threats are not examined by 
any one office at NCTC. Yet, a lower priority threat that 
succeeds, as the 12/25 plot almost did, would most definitely 
be seen as a serious attack by al-Qa'ida.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\NCTC Response to SSCI, March 11, 2010.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NCTC was created to be the central knowledge bank for all 
terrorism related information. As such, it is the only 
Intelligence Community agency with access to all intelligence 
databases as well as law enforcement information. Its unique 
role and access to information make it best suited to be 
responsible for integrating all intelligence--and connecting 
the dots--on any one particular threat, as well as, to provide 
comprehensive strategic terrorism assessments. However, NCTC 
failed to organize itself in a manner consistent with Congress' 
intent or in a manner that would clearly identify its roles and 
responsibilities necessary to complete its mission.

       III. Team Efforts Do Not Negate Individual Responsibility

    NCTC believes that tracking terrorist threats should be a 
team effort, and ``without a clearly identified `lane of 
responsibility'.''\5\ We disagree. Terrorism analysts 
throughout the Intelligence Community often perform overlapping 
analysis, repetition designed to identify oversights by any one 
agency. This duplication serves as a valuable check and 
balance--and enhances security. In this case, both CIA and NCTC 
had access to all the relevant reporting on Abdulmutallab and 
either agency could have connected them, however, neither 
identified the intelligence as a threat stream. Overlapping 
efforts can help reduce the risk of one agency overlooking a 
threat, but these additional efforts cannot replace the need 
for one primary agency to have ultimate responsibility for this 
mission. As such, NCTC's failure to understand its fundamental 
and primary missions is a significant failure and remains so 
today.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\NCTC Response to SSCI, March 11, 2010.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    IV. Technology Is Still a Problem for the Intelligence Community

    The Congressional Joint Inquiry, that we participated in, 
found in 2002 that, ``While technology remains one of this 
nation's greatest advantages, it has not been fully and most 
effectively applied in support of U.S. counterterrorism 
efforts. Persistent problems in this area included a lack of 
collaboration between Intelligence Community agencies, a 
reluctance to develop and implement new technical capabilities 
aggressively, the FBI's reliance on outdated and insufficient 
technical systems, and the absence of a central 
counterterrorism database.''\6\ This remains a problem today.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\Joint Inquiry, p. 54.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    As this Committee review noted, technology across the 
Intelligence Community still is not adequate to provide search 
enhancing tools for analysts. Several of the intelligence 
analysts involved in the Abdulmutallab case said that they were 
unable to link together the various reports on Abdulmutallab 
due to the struggle to balance searching the large volume of 
terrorism-related intelligence available with their daily 
workloads. The large number of intelligence databases 
compounded this problem by forcing some analysts and collectors 
to search multiple databases. NCTC officials told Committee 
staff that NCTC does not have the technical ability to follow 
or process all leads. Rather, NCTC is dependent on its 
personnel to conduct complex searches in multiple intelligence 
databases and to rely on the memory and knowledge of those 
analysts to link intelligence. CIA has similar problems with 
its main all-source counterterrorism database. This remains a 
problem today.

                             V. Conclusion

    Almost nine years after 9/11, we are concerned about 
whether or not the Intelligence Community is organized 
effectively to identify and disrupt terrorist attacks. While we 
commend the Intelligence Community's hard-working personnel for 
their dedicated and tireless service, we are concerned that the 
policies, procedures and technology that they must work within 
today are hampering their ability to detect in advance the next 
attack against the Homeland.
    We have seen terrorist organizations adapt and be agile in 
concealing their operations. They are unwavering, however, in 
their intent to strike the Homeland. In fact, since 12/25, 
Anwar al-Aulaqi called upon individuals to act independently 
and conduct attacks against the U.S. and other Western 
countries.
    We must ensure that NCTC understands its role and its 
responsibilities as the Mission Manager for counterterrorism, 
and that our analysts have the technological tools they require 
to search through large quantities of intelligence. Today, 
identifying terrorist operatives is the biggest challenge our 
Intelligence Community faces, and they should have all the 
support necessary to be successful in their mission.
                                   Saxby Chambliss.
                                   Richard Burr.