Hearing Confirms Information Not Shared with Boston Police Prior to Marathon Bombings

May 9, 2013 Issues: Counterterrorism

At a hearing today examining the Boston Marathon Bombings, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Massachusetts DHS Undersecretary Kurt Schwartz and former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman examined the lack of information sharing about Tamerlan Tsarnaev between federal, state and local authorities prior to the April 15 terrorist attack:

Chairman McCaul: Before the bombing, were you aware that based on this Russian intelligence, that the FBI opened an investigation into Tamerlan?

Commissioner Davis: We were not aware of that.

Chairman McCaul: Would you have liked to have known about that?

Commissioner Davis: Yes.

 

Chairman McCaul: If you knew of a Russian intelligence warning that this man was an extremist that may travel overseas. And the fact that he did travel overseas, and came back into the United States. Would that have caused you to give this individual an second look?

Commissioner Davis: Absolutely.

Chairman McCaul: Undersecretary Schwartz, the Department of Homeland Security funds these fusion centers. Was the fusion center given any of this information that I just asked the Commissioner?

Undersecretary Schwartz: Like the Boston Police Department, the state police through the Commonwealth fusion center, has I believe seven troopers assigned on a full time basis to the JTTF. My understanding is that at no time prior to the bombings, did any member of the Massachusetts State Police or the Fusion Center have any information or knowledge about the Tsarnaev brothers.

Chairman McCaul: The whole point of having fusion centers and joint terrorism task forces is to share information and coordinate. I used to work with joint terrorism task forces. But the idea that the feds have this information and it was not shared with the state and locals, defies why we created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place, and it’s very troubling to me.

Senator Lieberman, you went through a litany of cases where individuals – al-Awlaki, Bledsoe, the Fort Hood shooting that you did a fantastic investigation looking at why the dots weren’t connected. Here we are twelve years later, we put billions of dollars into this. Why are we still having problems connecting the dots?

Senator Lieberman: Let me first say that the line of questioning that you just carried out with Commissioner Davis and Secretary Schwartz and their answers are very important. This may be one of the most significant and painful takeaway lessons from the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks because particularly when you are dealing with home grown radicals the community around them is probably going to be your first line of defense and state and local law enforcement will always have a better knowledge of the neighborhood, of the institutions that the people might be involved in.  So I would say the fact that neither the FBI nor DHS in the one case of that Customs and Border Protection agent didn't notify the local members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston is really a serious and aggravating omission.

*Chairman McCaul’s questioning and opening statement can be found HERE.

Click to Watch Chairman McCaul’s Questions