By CHAD SELWESKI
Nearly 12 years after the Sept. 11 attacks and more than two years after the attempted Christmas Day bombing, congressional officials learned that anti-terrorism communications between federal intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials remains faulty.
The House Homeland Security Committee was told that the FBI did not initially share with Boston police the warnings from Russia’s security service in 2011 about one suspect in last month’s marathon bombings, despite the work of four city police representatives on a federal terrorism task force.
“We need to look at our processes to see if there are better ways that something like this (the Boston bombings) can be stopped before it happens,” said Rep. Candice Miller, the Harrison Township Republican who serves as vice chair of the committee.
Boston’s Police Commissioner Ed Davis acknowledged that police might not have uncovered or disrupted the plot even if they had received warnings from the FBI and fully investigated the family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI after a cursory investigation closed its assessment on Tsarnaev, who died during a police shootout after the bombings. Boston police learned about the Russian warnings only later.
“That’s very hard to say. We would certainly look at the information, we would certainly talk to the individual,” Davis said. “From the information I’ve received, the FBI did that, and they closed the case out. I can’t say that I would have come to a different conclusion based upon the information that was known at that particular time.”
The congressional hearing was the first in a series to review the government’s initial response to the attacks, ask what information authorities received aboutTsarnaev and his brother before the bombings and consider whether it was handled correctly.
“We need to take what we have learned and make sure that we are constantly improving our information-sharing so we don’t suffer another attack,” Miller said after the hearing. “You can’t be an information hoarder anymore.”