U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies are stepping up their vigilance to head off any terrorist threats during the holidays, John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, said.
Brennan, speaking at a White House briefing, didn’t list any specific threats. He said senior officials met yesterday to review the latest intelligence and plans to keep the nation secure. The planning includes consultation with other governments.
“What we want to do is let the American people know we are on the job,” he said. “We need to be on top of our game, particularly during the holiday season.”
The government has fixed the failings that let a Nigerian man board a U.S.-bound plane with explosive material concealed in his clothing last Christmas, Brennan said.
“We are in much better position today than we were last year at this time,” he said.
Enhancements to U.S. security have made it more difficult for terrorists to mount large-scale attacks and there now is increased focus on preventing smaller attempts, he said.
Brennan also addressed questions about an interview on ABC News earlier this week in which James Clapper, director of national intelligence, appeared to be stumped by a question about the arrest hours earlier of 12 people in London on suspicion they were plotting a terrorist attack.
Brennan defended Clapper, saying he was focused on issues such as tension on the Korean Peninsula, and hadn’t been briefed on the London arrests because it didn’t directly require action by the agency. Other agencies and officials were in contact with U.K. authorities.
“Should he have been briefed by his staff on those arrests?” Brennan said, “Yes.”
“But as of that time, there was nothing that the DNI needed to do or to be engaged in that would have required him to set aside other pressing intelligence matters to get briefed on things that were being put out in the press,” he said.
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