Only The Beginning

While the White House tried to act like their report on the botched Christmas Day bombing was exactly the tonic that the U.S. Intelligence system needed, Republicans in the Congress made clear that there are a lot more questions that need to be answered.

"It is appalling that we have not learned from our mistakes, eight years after the worst terror attacks in our nation's history," said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in a statement issued by her office last night.

Snowe, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, labeled the episode a "colossal breakdown in communication" as she decried a "lack of information sharing and analysis among the bureaucracies of our nation's intelligence community."

"It must not be permitted to happen again," she said bluntly.

That statement alone indicated to me that we are going to have some intense oversight hearings in the Congress in coming weeks on this terror plot.

"The Administration's announcement that they have not only identified all the problems that led up to the failed Christmas Day attack, but already know how to fix them, is puzzling," said Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), the top Republican on the Intelligence panel.

"Our Committee is still waiting for the Administration to provide basic answers to basic questions," said Bond, who said the President should have shined a brighter light on the work of the State Department, and why it didn't revoke the visa for the bombing suspect.

One thing that is sure to come up in Congressional hearings is whether the reforms made back in 2004 to the Intelligence Community need to be revisited.

The answer to that from the White House report was a resounding 'no'.

"A reorganization of the intelligence or broader counterterrorism community is not required to address problems that surfaced in the review, a fact made clear by countless other successful efforts to thwart ongoing plots," said a six page de-classified summary released on Thursday by the White House.

"Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had," said President Obama.

One senior intelligence leader during the Bush Administration told me much the same on Thursday.

"We are light years ahead of where we were before 9/11 and much safer," said this former official.

"Anyone who actually works in the system understands that," he said bluntly, taking a swipe at criticism from retired CIA officials, whom he said just want to get back to the "good old days" when the CIA was running the show.

We'll see what lawmakers think in the weeks ahead.

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