WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Congressional lawmakers are questioning whether the federal government did enough to stop the suspected Boston Marathon bombers after one of them was previously placed on the FBI’s terror watch list.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tells CBS News that the bombings could have been prevented if intelligence agencies were able to link critical pieces of information regarding suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
“I think information sharing failed,” Graham told “Face the Nation.” “We’re going back to the pre-9/11 stove-piping.”
The vague warning from the Russians was that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an amateur boxer in the U.S., was a follower of radical Islam who had changed drastically since 2010. That led the FBI to interview Tamerlan at the family’s home in Cambridge, Mass. Officials ultimately placed his name, and his mother’s name, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, on various watch lists, but the inquiry was closed in late spring of 2011.
After the bombings, Russian authorities told U.S. investigators they had secretly recorded a phone conversation in which Zubeidat had vaguely discussed jihad with Tamerlan. The Russians also recorded Zubeidat talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation with reporters.
The conversations are significant because, had they been revealed earlier, they might have been enough evidence for the FBI to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Tsarnaev family.
Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told NBC’s “Today” show Monday he believes the FBI investigation of the two young men would have gone much further if the Russian government had informed Washington of “the mother’s radicalization, the son’s radicalization. … It definitely would have caused the investigation to go further.”
While Tamerlan was living in Russia for six months in 2012, Zubeidat, who had remained in the U.S., was arrested at a shopping mall in the suburb of Natick, Mass., and accused of trying to shoplift $1,624 worth of women’s clothing from a department store.
She failed to appear in court to answer the charges that fall and instead, left the country.
Some lawmakers also believe that federal authorities should have gathered more information from 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before reading him his Miranda rights.
“I think they pulled the trigger too soon,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told “Fox News Sunday.” “I would have liked that process of him being interrogated to go further than reading Miranda rights as quick as they did. … “We should extract all the information we can before we give him rights that American citizens are entitled to.” Dzhokhar is a naturalized American citizen.
The April 15 attack killed three people and injured 260 others.
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