Former chairman of the 9/11 commission: Flight 253 intel echoed lapses

The former chairman of the 9/11 commission said that communications lapses that allowed a suspected terrorist to board a Detroit jetliner echoed the mistakes leading up to the 9/11 attacks.

"It's like reading the same script over again," said Thomas H. Kean, the 9/11 investigation's top Republican and a former governor of New Jersey.

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"Our report documented again and again the failures and the problem this time," he told CNN's Larry King.

"They are talking about the fact that intelligence agencies didn't talk to one another. And that was the major fault we found in our report," he added. "And here again, we were lucky this time but again, intelligence agencies didn't seem to be talking to one another."

Kean's comments Wednesday night echo much of what he and fellow commission members said back in 2002, when Congress authorized the independent panel to investigate intelligence leading up to the 9/11 attacks.

At the time, Kean and the panel's four other Republicans and five Democrats concluded serious communication lapses between the FBI and CIA kept former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush from addressing international threats effectively.

They ultimately recommended serious overhauls to the country's intelligence community, which Congress delivered in 2007.

But Kean on Thursday said many of those suggestions -- from their symbolic emphasis on bipartisanship to the institutional reforms later codified into law -- failed the federal government in the weeks leading up to the attempted bombing of Flight 253 in Detroit.

He also criticized lawmakers who have injected the debate with an undue element of partisanship, mostly in an attempt to place the blame squarely on one individual or group's shoulders.

"Intelligence agencies have got to work together as one unit and they've got to cooperate with each other," Kean said. "The parties, when it comes to national security, partisanship should end right there and we should be working together as a country, and as a people. And if we don't, you know, people are going to suffer."

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