WHAT GOOD is it if you’ve got a dangerous individual on a watch list of “potential terrorists” if it’s so “vast” law enforcement agencies can’t keep track of who’s on it?
The name of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was listed on the U.S. government’s highly classified central database of people it views as potential terrorists. But the list is so vast that this did not mean authorities automatically kept close tabs on him, sources close to the bombing investigation said on Tuesday. [Reuters]
Connected to this information is what’s being reported by the Boston Globe today:
Russian authorities alerted the US government not once but “multiple” times over their concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev — including a second time nearly a year after he was first interviewed by FBI agents in Boston — raising new questions about whether the FBI should have focused more attention on the suspected Boston Marathon bomber, according to US senators briefed on the probe Tuesday.
The FBI has previously said it interviewed Tsarnaev in early 2011 after it was initially contacted by the Russians. After that review, the FBI has said, it determined he did not pose a threat.
In a closed briefing on Tuesday, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee learned that Russia alerted the United States about Tsarnaev in “multiple contacts” — including “at least once since October 2011,” said Richard Burr, a Republican of North Carolina, speaking with reporters afterward.
Democrats in the House were also alarmed.
Members of the House also received a briefing Tuesday and emerged with questions.
“We have to go back and take a good hard look at the gaps,” said Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida Democrat. “With each event that occurs like this one, we have to go back and take a look at what lessons we could learn and how to fill in those gaps.”
If the Reuters report proves anything it’s that the United States has a lot of enemies and no matter how good our intelligence we simply can’t keep track of them all. At any given moment an extremist living among us could decide to strike.
There is only so much that can be done to protect us if we’re also going to remain free, even as we’re watched from all directions.