Kean, appearing Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," said Abdulmutallab, charged with attempting to destroy a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, said the incident provided a wake-up to a White House that wasn't focused on the threat of terrorism.
"This guy, in some respects, looking at it in retrospect, probably did us a favor," Kean said. "I mean, look, we had an administration which was not focused as it should be on terrorism. And that's understandable. They were focused on healthcare and on global warming and the economy. That's very understandable."
Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey and chairman of the commission that probed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, added that the Christmas Day attack also was useful because it brought attention to Yemen as a terrorist hideout and raised alarms that U.S. terrorism prevention efforts weren't working properly.