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A Familiar Face

CBS News reports that one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was known to the FBI.

The FBI admitted Friday they interviewed the now-deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years ago and failed to find any incriminating information about him. As first reported by CBS News correspondent Bob Orr, the FBI interviewed Tsarnaev, the elder brother of at-large bombing suspect Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, at the request of a foreign government to see if he had any extremist ties, but failed to find any linkage. ...

CBS News correspondent John Miller reports it is likely Russia asked to have the elder Tsarnaev vetted because of suspected ties to Chechen extremists.

This is probably going to be the first in a number of retrospective realizations that are now going to form a picture. Things are always clear in retrospect. But in this case they should have been clear in prospect. One of the suspects had a playlist on social media which included "I will dedicate my life to Jihad," among other things.

We focus on things because it is prohibited to focus on people. The TSA looks for things -- scissors, liquids, shoes, etc -- but it doesn't stop the underwear bomber. People now want to blame "access to guns" for the Tsarnaevs. But it would be uncouth to ask about what they heard from their imam or their teachers.

This is in contrast to the "El Al" system of screening. They look at the man first. "Who are you?" is in many ways more important than "How long are your scissors?" But since we can't inquire into the man, might as well look into the scissors.

As time passes, more and more acquaintances will come forward saying, "Well, come to think of it he did say this and that and this. ..."  It will transpire that many knew. Many suspected.

But no one came forward. Why not? Because the system doesn't do things. It doesn't do people. It doesn't do mental strife. But the system has really nifty swords. Armored vehicles, dogs, drones, thermal scanners, .50 cal sniper rifles. Heck, there might even be a minigun or two out in Watertown. Betcha they work real good too. Pity they might have to be used in those neighborhoods.

If the FBI knew about this individual two years ago, then it really recalls the snafus surrounding Major Nidal Malik Hasan. From Wikipedia: "The FBI noted that Hasan had first been brought to their attention in December 2008 by a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Communications between Hasan and al-Awlaki, and other similar communications, were reviewed and considered to be consistent with Hasan's professional research at the Walter Reed Medical Center. 'Because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else derogatory was found, the JTTF concluded that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning.'" The FBI ignored Hasan's correspondence with a known terror personality.

In February 2010, the Boston Globe obtained a confidential internal report detailing results of the Army's investigation. According to the Globe, the report concluded that officers within the Army were aware of Hasan's tendencies toward radical Islam since 2005. It noted one incident in 2007 in which Hasan gave a classroom presentation titled, "Is the War on Terrorism a War on Islam: An Islamic Perspective". The instructor reportedly interrupted Hasan, as he thought the psychiatrist was trying to justify terrorism, according to the Globe. Hasan's superior officers took no action related to this incident, believing Hasan's comments were protected under the First Amendment and that having a Muslim psychiatrist contributed to diversity. The report noted that Hasan's statements might have been grounds for removing him from service, as the First Amendment did not apply to soldiers in the same way as for civilians.

In the end, the Fort Hood shooting was proclaimed an act of "workplace violence." As a result, the victims have filed a lawsuit against the government. "A lawsuit filed in November 2011 by victims and their family members alleges that the government's failure to take action against Hasan before the attack was willful negligence prompted by 'political correctness.' The 83 claimants seek $750 million in compensation from the Army."