By Kimberly Dozier
President Barack Obama said Tuesday his counterterrorism bureaucracy “did what it was supposed to be doing” before the Boston Marathon bombing as his top intelligence official began a review into whether sensitive information was adequately shared and whether the U.S. government could have disrupted the attack.
“We want to go back and we want to review every step that was taken,” Obama told a White House news conference. “We want to leave no stone unturned. We want to see, is there in fact additional protocols and procedures that could be put in place that would further improve and enhance our ability to detect a potential attack.”
The 90-day review is also a political pre-emptive strike as Republican lawmakers question whether the administration’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies failed to share crucial counterterrorism information — the same error blamed for missing the clues before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Some Republican lawmakers have already suggested forming a select committee to investigate the Boston bombings, just as they are calling for a similar committee to delve further into the militant attacks that killed four Americans last year in Benghazi, Libya.
Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, said the review covers only the period before the Boston attack because the investigation of the bombings is still underway. Initiated earlier this week, it’s being led by I. Charles McCullough III, the independent intelligence community inspector general. He is authorized to reach into any U.S. intelligence agency.
The effort includes the inspectors general from the intelligence community including the CIA, the Justice Department, the Homeland Security Department and others.
“It is vital that we determine all the facts ... and thereby provide the entire law enforcement community with lessons learned and valuable insights,” Homeland Security Deputy Inspector General Charles K. Edwards said in a statement Tuesday.
Questions will center on whether the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security Department shared enough with each other about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings who died in an escape attempt. The Russian government had tipped off the FBI and the CIA about his possible links to militancy. His brother, Dzokhar, also a suspect, is in custody.
The intelligence community review does not preclude any other reviews by Congress.