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Obama orders review of watchlist system after failed terrorist attack


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POSTED: Monday, December 28, 2009

President Barack Obama said today that he has ordered a review of the nation's watchlist system and of its air safety regulations, and has asked his national security team to keep up the pressure on terrorists aiming to attack the United States.

“;The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season,”; Obama said in his first public comments in the wake of the Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit.

The president, making a statement just after 10 a.m. from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe during his holiday vacation, said U.S. authorities will not rest until they find everyone involved in the attack in Detroit and hold them accountable.

Obama praised the “;quick and heroic”; actions of the passengers and crew. He said the U.S. would not rest until all those involved in the attack are held  accountable and said the alleged bombing attempt was a “;serious reminder”; of the dangers we face and the “;nature of those who threaten our homeland.”;

He said Washington must “;keep up the pressure on those who would attack our country”; adding that the situation required much more than just efforts to “;simply strengthen our defenses.”;

“;The American people should remain vigilant but also be confident,”; Obama said.

Obama's remarks were his first in public about a Nigerian man's alleged attempt to bring down the airliner.

The group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the failed attack, saying it was retaliation for a U.S. operation against the group in Yemen. In a statement posted on the Internet, the group said 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab coordinated with members of the group.

Yemeni forces, helped by U.S. intelligence, carried out two air strikes against al-Qaida operatives in the country this month. The second one was a day before the attempted bombing of the plane.

The group said the would-be bomber used explosives manufactured by al-Qaida members. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is an alliance of militants based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

In his comments today, the president also addressed the crackdown in Iran. He said the United States joins the international community in “;strongly condemning”; the violent and “;unjust represssion”; of Iranian citizens.

The Iranian government has to respect the rights of his own people, he said.

“;History will be on the side of those of who seek justice,”; Obama said.

Obama's statements to the press came during his fourth full day of his family vacation on Oahu. He spent this morning playing tennis with first lady Michelle Obama at the Kailua Raquet Club.

After his statements to the press, the presidents traveled by motorcade to the Luana Hills Country Club for a round of golf.

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Media pool reporter Stephen Collinson of Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.