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White House backs counterterror agency head

The White House defends National Counterterrorism Director Michael Leiter  against a news report that suggests he was vacationing during the attempted Christmas bombing of an airliner.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The White House offered support to National Counterterrorism Director Michael Leiter, defending Thursday him against a news report that suggested he was vacationing during the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas and its aftermath.

Denis McDonough, National Security Council Chief of Staff, said Leiter was at his McLean headquarters on Dec. 25, and only left for a planned family vacation the next day after consulting with the White House and the national intelligence director. He said the travel did not affect in any way Leiter's ability to remain engaged with all elements of the U.S. government, including national security staff in Hawaii.

Leiter took his son on a six-day vacation to celebrate his seventh birthday and visit his grandparents.

Obama has promised to hold officials accountable for the intelligence failures that allowed the suspect to get on a plane in Nigeria with an undetected bomb. The bomber trained in Yemen with al-Qaida extremists, and his father raised concerns about his views and travels with the U.S. embassy in Nigeria.

The NCTC's purpose is to link together such disparate pieces of intelligence to uncover terror plots.