U.S. vulnerable to attack as long at there are Islamic extremists: Lee Hamilton

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WASHINGTON–Former 9-11 Commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton said Thursday the U.S. will remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks as long as the underlying problems exist that spawn Islamic extremists.

“Our posture has to be to the Islamic world, ‘we are on your side.”‘ Hamilton said.

Unless that message is conveyed, Hamilton said, “terrorism is going to keep coming at us.” How President Obama and other leaders in the future deal with the threats “is one of the great foreign policy challenges of the next generation,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton made his comments at a reporters breakfast Thursday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. A former Indiana House member, Hamilton, an early Obama supporter, is the director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

On Thursday at 3 p.m. eastern, 2 p.m. Chicago time, President Obama will deliver remarks about reports from his national security team over how all the intelligence about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, failed to nail as a potential threat, starting with his failed telling the U.S. embassy in Nigeria he was worried about this radicalized son.

At 3:45 p.m. eastern, 2:45 Chicago time, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will brief reporters on the findings of the report.

Hamilton highlights:

*While the intelligence system failed on Christmas, the focus should be to improve, not blame. “Right now, you have to deal with the system that you’ve got.”

*The U.S. reorganized intelligence and security operations after the 9-11 attacks: that’s when the Homeland Security Department was created. Hamilton said that Congress needs to consolidate its oversight functions because som 108 committees and subcommittees have some oversight authority. “That’s a joke,” he said.

*The 9-ll Commission found the main intelligence problem in 2001 was the failure of different intel entities to share information. On Christmas Day, the biggest problem was not sharing, “but a failure to analyze,” he said. Hamilton is not looking to blame anyone. “Our focus at this point should not be who is at fault.”

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