Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) charged today “we may have a 9/11 situation all over” in terms of communication failures between government agencies over Tamerlan Tsarnaev — weaknesses that were supposed to have been fixed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“Is homeland security talking to FBI? Now, this person left the United States January 2012 — the older brother did, to go back to Russia. And the FBI didn’t know that. We’re told by the Department of Homeland Security that there was — they used word the word, ‘ping.’ Let’s say there was an alert about his leaving. Well then how come the FBI didn’t know it?” Grassley said today on Fox.
“They brag about the technology that’s spelled into this bill to help in the future,” he noted of immigration reform legislation. “There’s no amount of technology that is going to work if the Department of Homeland Security’s not talking to the FBI.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was told in a Sunday night briefing with an FBI assistant director that they didn’t know about Tsarnaev’s 2012 trip to Russia because an airline had misspelled his name, while Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told an appropriations subcommittee yesterday that her department knew about his departure but not his arrival back in the states six months later because he’d dropped off the FBI’s list.
“You get one story from the FBI and another story from DHS, and that’s a major problem — was the same problem we had between the FBI and the CIA before 9/11, only then the law didn’t allow them to talk to each other to prevent terrorism, let each other know about terrorism,” Grassley said. “In this particular instance, we should be over that hurdle, learning a lesson from 9/11.”
The senator noted that intelligence agencies need to be talking with each other and talking with the right people.
“Don’t you think the problem is political correctness itself, that when it comes to our national security and — and terrorism, and the war on terrorism, that — that political correctness ought to have a lower priority?” Grassley said.
“…And that’s where you get back to this issue, should they be tried in law enforcement or should they be treated like an enemy combatant. And when you say ‘enemy combatant,’ we don’t mean sending them to Gitmo. We just mean take every opportunity you can to get every bit of information you can out of them before they’re actually prosecuted. And [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] is going to clam up now.”