Less than two weeks after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, details are still emerging about whether U.S. intel agencies, specifically the FBI, were on the job and whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev slipped through an inefficient web of overlapping and confusing jurisdictions -- despite billions of U.S. dollars funding multiple intel organizations and a significant erosion of the country's once cherished Bill of Rights.
According to the president's 2013 budget request, $52.6 billion will fund the National Intelligence Program which will be spread to include intel programs at the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and Departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice. This is not to say that those agencies will not receive additional funding directly through its own budget process with, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security receiving $68.9 billion in 2013 which will trickle $4 billion down to the FBI for its domestic counter-terror efforts.
So which agencies knew what and when did they know it? Here's where it gets really thought-provoking:
- For starters, with a House Homeland Security Committee hearing pending, the public might be interested to know how a wounded 19-year-old with no real resources at his disposal eluded the world's greatest military arsenal and an estimated force of 9,000 law enforcement officers for almost 24 hours, much of it in broad daylight. The Associated Press quoted two unnamed officials that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed when he was apprehended thereby removing the need for armed SWAT team house-to-house searches.
- Almost immediately, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a closed door hearing with the FBI after which Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) emerged stating that the FBI confirmed 'multiple' contacts with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI is still standing by its earlier version that it interviewed the older brother once prior to his 2012 trip to Russia.
- Sen. Burr's comments lend some credence to what Zubeidat Tsarnaev, the mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, has been saying for days -- that the FBI visited her oldest son on multiple occasions and even visited her. NBC is now reporting that the FBI also visited "members of the Tsarnaev 'family' -- presumably confirming some of her earlier assertions.
- On April 18, the FBI released a video of two young men whose identity remained a mystery. The FBI said they needed the public's help in identifying the two men in question yet we now know that the FBI knew at least Tamerlan, the older son from interview(s) in 2011. How is it that no one at the FBI, presumably the agents who conducted the interview(s), trained to be more observant than the average citizen, did not recognize Tamerlan?
- CBS is now reporting that the CIA requested the addition of Tamerlan's name to the TIDE database 18 months ago after being contacted by Russian authorities (who had earlier contacted the FBI) due to what they perceived to be his association with Chechen terrorists. The elder Tsarnaev's name was added to the classified "Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment" list of "suspected terrorists" which includes approximately half a million Americans.
- Despite earlier denials by the FBI that they did not know the Tsarnaev brothers and then later confirming that they had interviewed Tamerlan in 2011 without any follow-up and that they did not catch his trip to Russia in 2012 because his name was misspelled yet Janet Napolitano testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 23 that the Homeland Security system 'pinged' when Tamerlan left for Russia in January, 2012. The misspelling of Tamerlan's name may be indicative of competing databases since presumably once a name is in the system, it is in the system or perhaps the relevant agencies have not integrated their procedures.
Meanwhile, a New York Times editorial of Aug. 22 entitled "How to Handle a Terrorism Case" cited the "superb civilian police work" that led to the capture of Defendant Tsarnaev -- but failed to mention one word about the Boston lockdown or violations of the Fourth Amendment by the house-to-house searches as if they had never occurred. The editorial goes on to warn of allowing "raw emotions associated with a terrorism case to trample on the American system of justice."
During the FBI's 'public safety' interrogation before the Miranda rights were read, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev clearly identified the reason for their attack at the marathon. It came as no surprise that their opposition to U.S .foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq and its brutal assaults on Islam would be motivating factors.
As the corporate media and its indentured politicians continue their simplistic thinking and bombastic rhetoric to divert attention from the root cause of terrorism, Vice President Biden's recent speech at a memorial service in Boston did little to encourage healing or bring comfort to a traumatized community. Instead the vice president chose to inflame the passions of hate, vengeance and misunderstanding as if to throw down the gauntlet when he suggested:
"Why? people say to me, for they surely know they can never defeat us, they can never overthrow us, they can never occupy us. So why? Why? Whether it's al Qaeda central out of the Fatah, or two twisted, perverted, cowardly, knock-off jihadis here in Boston. Why do they do what they do? They do it to instill fear, to have us -- in the name of our safety and security -- jettison what we value most, and the world most values about us: our open society, our system of justice that guarantees freedom, the access of all Americans to opportunity, the free flow of information and people across this country, our transparency, that's their target."
Let's hope al-Qaeda and the Taliban were not listening...