Why Didn’t Federal Officials Tell Boston Police About Tamerlan Tsarnaev?

“If we knew everything we know now, if we knew all of these things, we would have taken a hard look at these individuals,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said at today’s congressional hearing.

Photo via BPDnews.com

Photo via BPDnews.com

During a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., to discuss how the Boston Marathon bombing situation was handled, and what could have been done to prevent it, officials said they were disappointed that more people, including federal agencies, didn’t speak up about information they had about the suspects.

Headed by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the meeting, which included an appearance by Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, was the first of many that will examine the government’s response to the April 15 attack on Boylston Street, and whether better communication between agencies could have thwarted the bombings and the deaths of innocent victims.

Davis told the hearing committee that if they had more information about the bombing suspects, specifically Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was on the FBI’s radar in 2011, and on the Russian government’s intelligence list, they would have looked deeper into his background. “If we knew everything we know now, if we knew all of these things, we would have taken a hard look at these individuals,” Davis said before the committee on Thursday.

Davis also expressed concern over the fact that once information was released about the suspects, following the murder of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, that no one from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where younger bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended school, came forward to identify the individual.

“Though it would not have been easy, it was possible to prevent the terrorist attacks in Boston,” said former Senator Joe Lieberman. “Certainly friends should have told police what they saw and heard instead of obstructing justice. Also the mosque that threw Tamerlan out for his extreme views could have said something to the police. Tamerlan’s wife could have saved lives if she said something, or asked someone for help.”

Lieberman said the cost of silence was “enormous.”

According to Davis, the FBI, and other federal agencies tasked with keeping an eye on people suspected of having ties to terrorist activities, never shared information with members of Boston’s own counterterrorism department. “Everything we [did] has to be reviewed … but until the facts are on the table, it’s hard to say what we could have done differently,” said Davis.

Joint Terrorism Task Forces were created in the wake of September 11 at the behest of national security officials, “designed to combine the resources of federal, state, and local law enforcement” in sharing information. State police have seven troopers assigned to their own JTTF division, but the state’s undersecretary for homeland security said Thursday that no relevant data about the suspects was ever shared.

When asked by McCaul if he would have liked to have known more about Tamerlan’s activities prior to the bombings, Davis replied, “in hindsight … certainly.” Davis said only after a police chase through Watertown, and the identification of the suspects, did information about Tamerlan’s travels to his home country, and his activities tied to terrorist videos online, come to light. “The whole point of fusion centers is to share information…the [fact] that [federal officials] have information, and that it was not shared with locals, defies why we created the Department of Homeland security in the first place. And it’s very troubling for me,” said McCaul.

Before leaving on a flight to the capital, Davis made it abundantly clear that the most important thing about the hearing would be to recognize the victims. “I will tell the committee to recognize and never forget the names of [the four people] that must never, ever be forgotten. I will tell them, in the days ahead as we work to be better at what we do, we will do so in honor and memory of Officer Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell and an innocent 8 year-old boy by the name of Martin Richard,” Davis said.

Despite the fact that information may have slipped through the cracks, Davis kept a positive attitude during the hearing, and said the city is back on its feet. “Boston is a stronger city because of this, and I hope the people who committed these atrocious acts know there is a futility in their efforts,” he said.

  • gantry

    “…the [fact] that [federal officials] have information, and that it was
    not shared with locals, defies why we created the Department of Homeland
    security in the first place. And it’s very troubling for me,” said
    McCaul.”

    DHS is too involved with drying up ammo supplies, not arresting illegals and amassing a frightening arsenal of weapons.

    Their mission statement objectives such as sharing information about suspected terrorists has fallen by the wayside.IMHO

  • Damon F.

    The FBI didn’t tell the BPD because it was an inside job. Uncle is a CIA asset, wife is daughter of Skull & Bones member, FBI was known to have met with Tamerlan, Dhzokar was “shot” five times but emerges from boat without a visible wound, authorities release image of Dhzokar they said they took from a 7-11 security tape when in fact they never entered 7-11. Image released by FBI of backpack fragment clearly doesn’t match either suspect’s backpack, while it does match that of others photographed at the scene who seem to be working with authorities. Let’s face facts people

  • Guest

    Listen Boo, stop acting like a fool.

    There’s more important things to do with your time than start rambling about this. Clearly you know nothing about anything. Your simply seeing what you want, and finding the information out there from people like you who share the same views. You already have the answers and conclusions before you start looking for the answers. If you look long enough for the answers you want instead of one that makes logical sense you will find what you were looking for every time. That’s why every single awful event ever to happen in the history of the world past present and future will always have you saying the exact same song and dance routine about how there’s conspiracy for everything. As soon as you see this pattern hopefully you’ll WAKE UP neo. Why don’t you go find some good news out there and figure out why that’s so ridiculous and unbelievable. Whatever, it’s your liberty to say whatever you want. Just like me saying you’re an idiot for the above reasons is mine. And this has been said a million times back and forth online between quacks and whacks . But w.e. it’s the internet.

    Have a good one Boo :)

  • crismahn

    I wonder if any remaining bad blood between the Boston FBI office and the Boston PD over the Whitey Bulger era has anything to do with it? I don’t think there is much love lost. Maybe they just haven’t been speaking to each other. Maybe the one would love to see the other with pie on its face.