April 30, 2013

Information sharing before Boston bombings under review

The 90-day review is being carried out by the independent intelligence community inspector general.

The Associated Press

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President Obama on Tuesday said a review will try to determine if the U.S. could have disrupted the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15.

AP

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Obama called it "hard stuff" to stop terror attacks, especially ones by what he described as "self-radicalized individuals" who choose to kill and maim "because of whatever warped, twisted ideas they may have."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev first came to the attention of U.S. officials in early 2011, when Russia told the FBI that Tamerlan and his mother were religious extremists. The FBI investigated them, and the Tsarnaevs' names were added to a Homeland Security Department database used to help screen people entering and leaving the U.S. But the FBI found nothing linking them to religious extremists or terrorists, and asked the Russians twice for more information to help with the investigation. The FBI never heard back and closed its investigation in June 2011.

In the fall of that year, the Russians reached out to the CIA with the same concerns. The CIA shared this with the FBI, and also asked that the names of Tamerlan and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, be entered into a massive government database of people with suspected terrorist ties. The FBI again reached out to Russia for more information, and never heard back.

When Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to and from Russia in 2012, his travel did not raise alarms because the FBI had closed its investigation into Tsarnaev a year earlier.

Members of Congress may not be satisfied with any Obama administration review.

"We should review what happened, be unafraid to follow the evidence, even if politically inconvenient, and make changes accordingly," Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, a member of the House intelligence committee, said in an email to The Associated Press. "The terrorists adapt, so must we."

A Democrat on the House committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also a member of the House intelligence committee, said: "Just because the FBI didn't find derogatory information about the suspects doesn't mean it wasn't there to be found. But nor should we leap to a conclusion of malfeasance. Instead, this review may produce one important component of the 'lessons learned' from the attacks."

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