The PJ Tatler

Congressman: How Long Should Tsarnaev Have Been Watched After Clearing FBI Interview?

A member of the House Homeland Security Committee said the “question of the hour” as Congress comes into session after last week’s terrorist attack is whether the FBI dropped the ball on suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

“And it’s going to be one that’s going to be pursued, I think, aggressively by members of Congress,” Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) said this morning on CNN.

The FBI said they didn’t find anything alarming about the older Tsarnaev brother after being tipped off about potential extremist ties, but later Tsarnaev went on a six-month trip to Russia that is now being investigated.

“The question becomes what kind of a process is in place, that after an original inquiry, if there are people that come to the attention of the FBI, about concerns of their terrorism, what are the procedures to do appropriate follow-up, and where are the limits to the extent that we want to continue to have the government monitoring the actions of, you know, Americans,” Meehan said.

The congressman said Tsarnaev’s citizenship application had been put on hold “because of what was presumably a domestic violence incident beforehand.”

“That was one of the distinguishing things from his brother, who had no kind of, you know, prior criminal activity. That may have been what would have been the cause,” Meehan said. “Not, as I understand it, any kind of information that suggested that there was continuing concern about his, you know, potential for terrorism.”

Tsarnaev had a number of flags in the open online, such as terrorist videos on his YouTube page.

“It would seem to be, once you have probable cause, so to speak, the FBI has an original concern that was generated, what is — what are the procedures for following up on specific information that is put out into the public domain,” Meehan said. “That is what apparently happened, and certainly we can see now was missed but was there any procedure for the FBI to follow up on the activities of somebody over the Internet after they’ve effectively been cleared?”

The Homeland Security Committee sent a letter Saturday to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, National Intelligence Director James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller asking to see what intelligence was gleaned on Tsarnaev before the attack.

Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said the fifth attack since 9/11 by a person known to the feds raises “the most serious questions about the efficacy of the federal counter terrorism efforts.”