APRIL 01, 2014
Surprise, surprise U.S. Homeland Security officials missed a number of opportunities to stop the Chechen terrorist who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings because they failed to properly investigate, coordinate and communicate, according to a new congressional report.
A decade ago we heard a similar version of this involving the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the agency responsible for protecting the United States against foreign threats, also missed many opportunities to stop the 9/11 hijackers and failed to uncover important intelligence about the Islamic terrorists that murdered thousands of innocent Americans. All these years later it seems that little has changed in the U.S. intelligence community.
It’s as if the Three Stooges are in charge of national security only it’s the monstrous umbrella agency—the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—created after 9/11 to protect the country from another terrorist attack. It turns out that two DHS agencies, the FBI and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), could have intercepted Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev if they had done their job! The brutal details are laid out in the lengthy report that blasts federal officials for their failures.
Years before the 2013 marathon bombing Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old terrorist who was eventually killed in a wild shootout with police, was under investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Russian authorities actually notified the FBI in 2011 to express concern that Tsarnaev had become radicalized and that he might return to Russia to join extremist groups. Tsarnaev appeared on a federal hot list of potential terrorists yet was not detained when alerts were triggered.
Despite the alarms, congressional investigators found that CBP failed to stop Tsarnaev at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York in 2012 even though an advisory made his detention “mandatory.” The warnings had been triggered when Tsarnaev booked roundtrip air travel to Russia, but—get this—CBP was not reviewing all of the “high-interest” subjects on the daily advisories! “While it is impossible to say with certainty that such a second look would have prevented the bombings, it is equally impossible to say with certainty it could not have,” says the report, which was released this week by the House Homeland Security Committee.
Judicial Watch exposed another interesting tidbit about Tsarnaev a few months after the bombings; the Obama administration could have deported him years before he detonated bombs at a major sporting event over a criminal arrest. In 2009 Tsarnaev was nabbed for domestic violence and, though he was a legal U.S. resident, federal authorities could have removed him from the country but evidently didn’t feel he represented a big enough threat. The House report doesn’t mention the case, but it points out plenty of other mishaps by the feds.
Besides dropping the ball on Tsarnaev, the committee chastises DHS agencies for not sharing information even though they supposedly have the same mission of protecting the country. “There were opportunities in which greater sharing of information might have altered the course of events,” the report says, adding that “such failures must not be allowed to persist.” The FBI must also improve information sharing about terrorists with local police, according to the report. Lack of information sharing between federal agencies is an issue that has come up many times over the years.
The FBI’s many transgressions have also been well documented throughout history and were especially highlighted in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. In fact, a Justice Department Inspector General report disclosed that the FBI missed at least five opportunities before the 9/11 terrorist attacks to uncover crucial intelligence about the perpetrators. The watchdog blamed the FBI for not knowing that two of the 9/11 hijackers lived in the U.S. and for failing to follow up on an agent’s theory that Osama bin Laden sending students to American flight schools.
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