House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton has told President Obama that key federal security agencies need to get their acts together.

Skelton, Missouri’s senior congressman, has sent a letter to the President saying the attempted terrorist bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day represented “failures across the government and the international community.” He says he pointed out interagency communication problems within the Defense Department in 1997 and 1998. But he says those problems appear to have extended to other agencies. “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” he says. Skelton says there is no excuse for that situation.

He says information was available that would have kept the suspected terrorist from getting a United States Visa—but it wasn’t coordinated, which allowed him to get on the plane.

Skelton admits its hard to learn about and stop such plots—he says it’s like looking “for a specific needle within a stack of needles.” But he says the communication breakdown that almost allowed a Christmas catastrophe should not have happened.

Interview with Skelton