President Obama met with top security officials Thursday in anticipation of receiving a preliminary report detailing what warning signs were missed before a 23-year-old Nigerian who was on a terror watch list boarded a plane to Detroit armed with explosives.
The president, in a written statement, said he met with counterterrorism adviser John Brennan about the inquiry into what he called "human and systemic failures" that occurred before the attempted attack. He said he also spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Obama said he will review the preliminary report over the next few days and meet with relevant agency heads in Washington on Tuesday "to discuss our ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements."
Meanwhile, Napolitano announced that she's sending senior officials abroad to meet with leaders from international airports to discuss security procedures. The suspect in the Christmas Day attempt boarded the plane for Detroit in Amsterdam. The Senate Intelligence Committee also announced Thursday that it will hold hearings on the incident next year.
"The Christmas Day incident revealed some serious failures in our nation's system of security," Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a written statement.
Obama has demanded answers on why information never was pieced together by the U.S. intelligence community that could have prevented terrorist suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to destroy the Detroit-bound airliner, from ever getting on the plane.
The president declared Tuesday that a "systemic failure" on multiple levels allowed the suspect to board and said he should have been on a "no-fly" list. The preliminary report is the administration's first step in trying to reform both airport screening and the terror watch list system to prevent a repeat of the Christmas Day incident.
In August, intelligence officials picked up phone intercepts from an Al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen, discussing a plot involving someone they called "The Nigerian." In November, the suspect's father told the U.S. embassy in Nigeria that he was worried about his son's extremist views.
This warning got the suspect's name on the terror watch database -- but officials did not realize he was "The Nigerian" until the attempted attack.
A senior intelligence official said the CIA's Africa desk was also preparing a report on the suspect, but didn't send it to the National Counterterrorism Center because they were waiting for pictures of the suspect.
Administration officials have spent the last week poring over reams of data for the new report. Officials have been sending their after-action details to Brennan, Obama's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, who has emerged at the center of a review that may call for significant changes to U.S. intelligence programs.
There are some concerns about the leader of the review. Current and former intelligence officials told Fox News he could face a conflict of interest, since he basically put together the National Counterrorism Center, the agency that manages watch lists.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Usama bin Laden's group, claimed it was behind the attempt to bomb the Northwest airliner.
Senior U.S. officials told The Associated Press that intelligence authorities are looking at conversations between the suspect in the failed attack and at least one Al Qaeda member. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the conversations were vague or coded, but the intelligence community believes that, in hindsight, the communications may have been referring to the Detroit attack.
Officials said the link between the suspect's planning and Al Qaeda's goals was becoming clearer as the review progressed.
"There were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have -- and should have -- been pieced together," Obama said earlier this week.
The goal now, officials say, is to do everything the U.S. can to prevent a repeat. Even so, they acknowledge a perfect system is impossible to create and that it will take weeks for a more comprehensive investigation into what allowed Abdulmutallab to get into U.S. airspace.
Abdulmutallab had been placed in one expansive database, but he never made it onto more restrictive lists that would have caught the attention of U.S. counterterrorist screeners, despite his father's warnings to U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria. Those warnings also did not result in Abdulmutallab's U.S. visa being revoked.
U.S. investigators said Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. Yemen's government has said Abdulmutallab spent two periods in the country, from 2004 to 2005 and from August to December of this year, just before the attempted attack.
The U.S. has increasingly provided intelligence, surveillance and training to Yemeni forces during the past year, and has provided some firepower, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.