Criticizing the Obama administration for missing "all these red flags," Fox News contributor and former Bush press secretary Dana Perino claimed that Northwest Airlines bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab "bought a one-way ticket" to the United States. However, administration officials have stated that Abdulmutallab flew to Detroit on a roundtrip ticket.
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Perino claimed "one-way ticket" should have raised "red flags"
From the February 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
PERINO: [T]here were all these red flags that weren't raised when the underwear bomber came across, right? He bought all these -- he bought a one-way ticket, he then clammed up. Plus he was connected to Yemen and Nigeria and that should have been a clue. Plus they didn't call the CIA which is what they should have done.
But officials said Abdulmutallab bought a roundtrip ticket to Detroit
NCTC Director: "[T]he fact is not that he bought a one-way ticket; he bought a roundtrip ticket." During a January 20 Senate hearing on the Christmas Day attack, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center corrected Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) claim that "I think everybody know the facts of the Christmas bomber: a person buys a ticket with cash -- one way ticket." Leiter stated, "I would correct the record on a couple of points. In fact, the fact is not that he bought a one-way ticket; he bought a roundtrip ticket. From the January 20 Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing:
MCCAIN: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank the witnesses and I thank them for their continued service to the country. I think everybody knows the facts of the Christmas bomber: a person buys a ticket with cash -- one-way ticket; his father has already warned the CIA; the series of missteps have taken place were led to this near tragedy. And I thank the witnesses for their candor in being forthcoming about these failures.
The president said, and I quote, on January 7th, "I repeatedly made it clear in public with the American people and in private with my national security team that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they've failed to perform their responsibilities at the highest level."
I'd like to ask all three witnesses: Who's been held accountable? I'll begin with you, Mr. Leiter. Has anybody been fired? Has anybody been transferred? Has anybody received a letter of admonition? Has anybody been put on leave? Go ahead.
LEITER: Senator, we are in fact conducting internal reviews to determine whether or not any of those should be pursued.
MCCAIN: And how long will those reviews take? It's fairly clear, the facts of what happened -- isn't it?
LEITER: Well, actually, I think many of the facts are clear. I would correct the record on a couple of points. In fact, the fact is not that he bought a one-way ticket; he bought a roundtrip ticket.
LA Times: Abdulmutallab "had purchased a round-trip ticket -- not a one- way fare, as has been widely reported," according to Obama administration. The Los Angeles Times reported on January 13, "The alleged Christmas Day airline bomber had purchased a round-trip ticket -- not a one- way fare, as has been widely reported -- the Obama administration told congressional aides in a closed briefing Tuesday." As Justin Elliot of Talking Points Memo noted on January 11, numerous media outlets reported that Abdulmutallab flew to the United States on a one-way ticket and the New York Times issued a correction on December 30.
Pete Williams: Abdulmutallab "bought his ticket for Detroit ... at the KLM office in Accra, paying $2,831 for a round-trip ticket." NBC's Pete Williams reported on January 5:
More is known, now, about what he was doing in the weeks before he came to the U.S. After going to Yemen early in Aug. 2009, he went to Ghana, arriving in the city of Accra on Dec. 9, according to the government there, on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Dubai that went through Addis Ababa. He bought his ticket for Detroit a week later at the KLM office in Accra, paying $2,831 for a round-trip ticket.
On Dec. 24, he flew from Accra to Lagos, on Virgin Nigerian Flight 804, on a one-way ticket. From there, he began the journey to Detroit, connecting through Amsterdam.