President Obama is pushing back against Republicans who are claiming the Boston Marathon bombing represented an intelligence failure.
“Based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties. Department Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing. But this is hard stuff,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday when asked about the country’s intelligence-gathering agencies and whether they did enough to monitor the bombing suspects.
Most recently, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the dead bombing suspect, left a pile of evidence that should have raised a red flag.
“The FBI investigated the older brother but never shared the information with the fusion cell in Boston so people in the Boston area could be on the lookout,” Graham said. “When he goes back to Russia in January of 2012 the system pings at [Department of Homeland Security] but DHS doesn’t share the information with the FBI or CIA,” he told CBS’ Face The Nation.
Graham blamed intelligence agencies for not connecting the dots after the attack, which left 3 dead and more than 180 injured. Graham has also been blaming Obama for the security deficiencies at the U.S. consulate in Libya before the deadly attack last September,which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Obama declared during the presser that “Mr. Graham is not right…although I’m sure he generated some headlines.”
“I think what we saw in Boston was state, local, federal officials—every agency—rallying around a city that had been attacked,” he said. Obama pointed out that Russian intelligence services alerted its U.S. counterpart about the older brother and mother that they could be sympathizers to extremists.
“The FBI investigated that older brother. It’s not as if the FBI did nothing,” Obama said. “They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother. They concluded that there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity.”
After Obama’s presser, Graham released a statement, declaring once again that “Benghazi and Boston are compelling examples of how our national security systems have deteriorated on [Obama’s] watch.” He added, ”If Benghazi is not an example of system failure before, during and after the attack what would be? If Boston is not an example of a pre-9/11 stove piping mentality what would be?”
The president added, however, that his administration is looking to see if anything more could have been done to further improve and enhance the country’s ability to detect a potential attack.
Obama concluded that, because of the pressure the U.S. has put on organized terrorist networks, like Al-Qaeda, “one of the dangers we now face are self-radicalized individuals who are already here in the United States, in some cases may not be part of any kind of network but because of whatever warped, twisted ideas they may have, may decide to carry out an attack.”
Tamerlan’s brother, Dzhokhar, who is believed to have helped carry out the Boston bombings, has lawyered up and is now being held at the Federal Medical Center, Devens, a prison in Massachusetts.