- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The White House insisted Tuesday that President Obama will be able to pursue his domestic priorities even as he deals with the fallout from the failed Christmas Day airliner attack, as Mr. Obama met with more than two dozen Cabinet officials to discuss enhanced security procedures and intelligence-sharing.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs said he “wouldn’t quibble with the fact that the president has a full plate,” but noted that Mr. Obama has been aware of the ongoing threat posted by al Qaeda since taking office a year ago.

“We didn’t have a mindset this problem didn’t exist prior to December 25,” Mr. Gibbs told reporters Tuesday. “He’s used to carrying around an otherwise full plate.”

Mr. Obama has ordered a review of the attack, in which a Nigerian man attempted to detonate a bomb on a flight heated for Detroit, as well as airline security procedures to prevent similar incidents in the future. Mr. Gibbs defended Mr. Obama’s response, which included a public statement from his vacation home in Hawaii three days after the attack occurred.

Prior to the Christmas Day incident, Mr. Obama devoted most of his public energy to urging Congress to pass a final version of health care legislation in time for his State of the Union address later this month. In addition, he and Democratic leaders are hoping to pass bills on jobs, financial regulation and global warming.

In his initial remarks on the attack, Mr. Obama cited a “systemic failure” in intelligence officials failing to piece together information on the terrorist suspect, whose father warned American officials in Nigeria of his son’s increasingly radical views. Mr. Gibbs said it was too early to say whether anyone will be fired over the incident.

“This is a far more serious game than trying to figure out which agency can blame which other agency. That’s not the point. The point in this is to take every conceivable and knowable action to ensure that what we collect is processed … and that it’s used to prevent something like this from happening,” Mr. Gibbs said.

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