Graham: FBI Lost Track of Tsarnaev Because Name Was Misspelled on Russia Flight
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) put the onus on the Russians after talking to the FBI for 45 minutes last night about the 2011 interview with Boston terror suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev that ended in the feds letting the Chechen immigrant go.
"I think they did a pretty good job of following the lead," Graham said of the FBI on Fox this morning. "The Russians requested that we look at this guy. They interviewed him. They interviewed his parents. They interviewed the people he went to school with. They did a very thorough search of the system to see if anything popped up."
The senator said the FBI told him Tsarnaev slipped back to Chechnya and Dagestan undetected because of a spelling error.
"And they wrote the Russians back with all the information they gathered and said, 'Do you have anything else?' And the Russians never responded. He went over to Russia, but apparently when he got on the Aeroflot plane, they misspelled his name, so it never went into the system that he actually went to Russia," he said.
It's a different tune from a day before, when Graham accused the FBI of dropping the ball on its review of Tsarnaev.
"I think once the Russians made the request, the FBI did a good job of looking at him," Graham said. "The reason we didn't know he went to Russia is because the name was misspelled. But in 2012 and 2013, when he became more radical, when he went on the Internet, when he interacted with this imam in Boston, the FBI tells me there is limitations on what they can do in situations like that."
"So we need to revisit our laws. We're at war with radical Islam. Why did they do what they did in Boston? They think we're a Christian nation, that we're a colonial power, that we're infidels. They hate us because of who we are. That's why they're trying to kill us. They don't want our money. They don't want our property. The sooner we realize that we're at a war with radical Islam and come up with systems to defend ourselves the better off we'll be."
The vocal proponent of trying the younger Tsarnaev brother, Dzhokhar, as an enemy combatant said that decision should be known by today or tomorrow.
The FBI said the 19-year-old bombing suspect is still in serious condition but answering some questions in writing.
"It took us weeks and months to figure out 9-11. He has to go to federal court, in my view. He's not eligible for military commission trial because he's an American citizen," Graham said. "...I could care less about the trial. A first-year law student could do this trial. I want to gather intelligence. What does he know about terrorist organizations within our country? Does he know of other terrorist activity that may be coming our way? That's a national security inquiry."
"...This man should be held and questioned under the law of war. The information can't be used against him, but it can be used to help us, and citizenship doesn't give you immunity from the law of war. If you take up arms or hostile -- hostile acts against the nation, you can be killed or captured. That's the law. I've been a military lawyer for 30 years. That's not even a doubt."