Monday, April 22, 2013

FBI drops the ball in Boston terror attack

FBI drops the ball in Boston terror attack, Causing mayhem April 15 on Bolyston Street near the finish of the Boston Marathon, the now notorious Tsarnaev brothers, 26-year-old Tamerlan and 19-year-old Dzhokhar, killed and blew the limbs off innocent spectators in the first attack on the U.S. homeland since Sept. 11. While the Transportation Security Agency now punishes air travelers, the FBI dropped the ball in failing to follow-up with ongoing surveillance on Tamerlan when Russian authorities notified the FBI in 2011 that he was a follower of radical Islam. “The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United State for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups,” said the FBI statement, prompting the department to investigate and interview Tamerlan in 2011.

Showing the molasses-like viscosity of the FBI bureaucracy, Tamerlan wasn’t taken seriously, for the all-too-important department too diverted on more important things to properly investigate the Boston terror cell. Had the FBI continued its surveillance, even as simple as reading Tamerlan’s Facebook or YouTube, they would have uncovered the Chechen terror cell and arrested the boys for plotting terrorism on U.S. soil. With all the turf wars and infighting among the Homeland Security Department, CIA and FBI, it’s easy to see how airline travelers are punished with more useless searches while the intelligence and law enforcement agencies get off the hook. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas.) must hold urgent hearings on how the FBI blew it.

As the spotlight shifts to how the Boston Marathon terror attack slipped through the cracks, Congress must ask FBI Director Robert Mueller some tough questions. “The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011. The FBI requested but did not receive more specific or additional information form the foreign government,” read the FBI statement. Referring to information from the Russian government, the FBI doesn’t stop investigating because a foreign power wasn’t more forthcoming with additional documents or information. It’s the FBI’s obligation to continue processing leads, including covert surveillance needed to protect U.S. national security, especially investigating suspected terrorists. Muelller and the FBI must be held accountable for why Tameralan was left unchecked.

Insisting the case was closed shows either the FBI’s inexcusable incompetence or gross negligence, either way Mueller must be held accountable. Tamerlan’s video postings on YouTube pictured with fellow Chechen terrorists in 2012 should have been plenty of reason for the FBI to be all over the case. His 2012 six-month-long trip to the hotbed of terrorism in Russia’s the North Caucasus region should have alerted Homeland Security and the FBI that they had a live one on the line. “They were all afraid of Tamerlan,” said his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, speaking in Dagestan. “I lost my two sons,” said Zubeidat. “My family is in the dirt,” understandable for someone just informed that her eldest boy was killed and youngest son remains in custody for the April 15 Boston Marathon terror attacks. Seventy-two-year-old Homeland Security Director James R. Clapper has a lot of explaining to do.

Passengers waiting in extra-long TSA lines at airports around the country, enduring the delays and humiliation of enhanced searches, want Clapper to answer the question of why there's such poor communication between his department and the FBI. If Clapper knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaeva, the public has a right to know what he knew and when did he knew it. Three innocent people lost their lives and scores of others have permanent, some life-threatening injuries from the Tsarnaeva brothers’ terrorist attack. If the FBI could have intercepted the incident, Mueller must explain why no further action was taken on Tamerlan. Recent media reports about Tamerlan’s Russian trip and YouTube postings should have been probable cause for the 26-year-old’s arrest. Instead of U.S. officials talking about when they’ll charge Dzhokhor with terrorism or murder, the FBI and Homeland Security must answer questions.

When the FBI interviewed Tamerlan in 2011, they were told by the Russian government he was a follower of radical Islam. After returning from Russia in 2012, Tamerlan posted his YouTube videos pictured with his Chechen terror group. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today he wasn’t aware of either of the Boston bombers affiliated with any terror group. Either Hagel hasn’t seen the YouTube video or he’s trying to save face for the White House that now has egg on its face. No matter how you spin it, President Barack Obama now has the worst foreign-based terror act on the U.S. homeland since Sept. 11. Homeland Security Secretary Clapper, House Homeland Security chairman McCaul and Senate Homeland Security chairman Carper better get on the same page and find out what caused the disconnect with the FBI to allow the latest attack on U.S. soil.

About the Author

John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.

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