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Senators McCain, Ayotte request Senate hearing on Boston bombings

Sen. John McCain, along with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) officially requested Wednesday a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing concerning the bombings of the Boston Marathon.

The request, sent to Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), who is head of the committee, is given in full below. It has not been altered in any way.

Dear Chairman Carper,

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, and in light of reports today that the Russian government contacted U.S. authorities twice in 2011 expressing concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, it has become increasingly apparent that more questions need to be answered regarding the failure to prevent this tragedy, which took the lives of three Americans, including an eight-year-old boy, and injured close to 200 innocent people. Therefore, we are requesting that the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hold a hearing as soon as possible to investigate whether our intelligence officials had information that could have prevented these attacks.

One of the key findings of the 9/11 Commission was the importance of breaking down the stovepipes in our intelligence community and improving information-sharing efforts. Since 9/11, billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on information-sharing, and Congress has passed sweeping legislation to reorganize our intelligence community to ensure that dots are connected and our intelligence agencies are talking. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the money spent or the information sharing environment put into place after 9/11 were useful in apprehending the Tsarnaev brothers, specifically Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

In a string of apparent intelligence-sharing lapses, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was able to slip through the cracks and carry out this devastating attack. Recent reports have indicated that he first appeared on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) radar screen as a person-of-interest almost two years ago due to information provided by the Russian government regarding his violent Islamist ideology. Without the knowledge of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the FBI, in 2012 Tsarnaev traveled to a region of Russia where violent Islamists groups have been known to operate. According to Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) knew about this trip and failed to inform the FBI or other intelligence officials. Furthermore, DHS was unaware of Tsarnaev’s return to the United States because the FBI was no longer investigating him. If these reported details are found to be true, they demand immediate attention by Congress.

The Boston bombings further remind us that our country continues to be a battlefield in a war against individuals who want to destroy our way of life. Intelligence is one of our first and most effective lines of defense against a terrorist attack. We request this hearing to clear up possible concerns the American people may have surrounding our intelligence capabilities and to eliminate gaps that may exist in sharing intelligence information to prevent future attacks against the United States and our interests.

Thank you for the consideration of our request.


John McCain

Kelly Ayotte