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Airport Security Overseas Falls Short, Schumer Says

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TWC News: Airport Security Overseas Falls Short, Schumer Says
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New York's senior senator unveiled a plan Sunday to close what he calls "gaping holes" in foreign air travel to the US.

Senator Charles Schumer says the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day shows security at some foreign airports is "appallingly lax."

He's now asking airlines to report any known security issues at foreign airports and threaten to stop flying to those airports.

"There's a perfect storm for airport security overseas. Lax security checks, complacent government officials, and terrorists who exploit them. There's been some time and effort spent trying to close those loopholes but the Christmas Day terror attempt must be a wake up call to show that much more needs to be done," Schumer said.

Schumer is calling on the US government to impose penalties on foreign airports that don't comply with US security rules. He's also asking the US State Department to review all travel visas for anyone who has been added to a terrorist database.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser says US intelligence didn't miss a "smoking gun" that could have prevented the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines jet.

While speaking on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, White House adviser John Brennan admitted security lapses and human errors in sharing information about the Nigerian man accused in the attempt.


He says there was no single piece of intelligence about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab that brought all the streams of information together.

The 23-year-old suspect was able fly to the United States with a valid visa even though his father warned the government he was an extremist.

US officials said there wasn't enough information to elevate him from a list of people with suspected terrorist ties to an official terror watch list or no-fly list.

"What we need to do as a government and as a system is to bring that information together so when a father comes in with information and we have intelligence, we can map that up so we stop individuals like Abdul Abdulmutallab from getting on the plane," Brennan said. "In this one instance, the system didn't work. There were some human errors. There were some lapses. We need to strengthen it. But day in and day out, the successes are there.''

Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to set off an explosive devise in his underwear as Northwest Flight 253 was landing in Detroit on Christmas Day.

An al-Qaida faction in Yemen is claiming responsibility for the attempted attack.

As a result of heightened security concerns, both the US and Britain have closed their embassies in the country.

White House advisers say there are indications al-Qaida is planning an attack there or that the US embassy might be a target.

It's unclear how the long it will remain closed.

Britain's Foreign Office said its embassy was closed for security reasons.

The developments come as the British government says Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Obama have agreed to beef up efforts to fight terror in Yemen and Somalia.

In a statement, Brown's office says part of the the plan includes joint funding for a special counterterrorism police unit in Yemen. But a senior Obama official tells the Associated Press that American and British forces already provide the police there with counterterror assistance, and that he's unaware of any new joint effort.

A spokeswoman for the British government says the new initiatives are part of ongoing work between the US and Britain.

Brown has already called for an international conference on January 28th to discuss ways of fighting terrorism in Yemen.

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