Lieberman criticizes agencies’ handling of Tsarnaev in Boston Marathon case

Former senator Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) spoke before the House Committee on Homeland Security on the Boston bombings. Lieberman criticied U.S. agencies for not preventing the attacks. (The Washington Post)

In a House committee hearing Thursday, Joseph Lieberman, the former senator from Connecticut, described the bombing of the Boston Marathon last month as the consequence of a failure on the part of federal law enforcement agencies:

“To put it bluntly, our homeland defense system failed in Boston,” Lieberman said in a written “statement for the record” submitted to the committee. As a senator, Lieberman introduced legislation that led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the committee’s chairman, called for the hearing to investigate the Boston bombings and review what U.S. agencies knew about the two suspects before the April 15 attack. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during a confrontation with police four days after the bombings. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is recovering from gunshot wounds in a Massachusetts prison medical facility.

FBI agents had interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011 after receiving warnings about him from the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency, but did not find anything suspicious. For a complete chronology of federal agencies’ monitoring of Tsarnaev, continue reading here.

The investigation into the bombing has required FBI and FSB agents to work closely in recent days, despite the two agencies’ long history of mistrust:

Mapping the hunt for Boston Marathon suspects

For much of the past decade, cooperation between the FSB and the FBI has been guarded and pragmatic at best. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, and the identification of ethnic Chechen suspects with potential ties to an Islamist insurgency in the Russian Caucasus, the White House and the Kremlin have been talking up greater cooperation on counterterrorism. . .

Deep mutual suspicion, which stretches back to the Cold War and is periodically inflamed by cases such as the sleeper agents busted by the FBI in 2010, means there are significant limits to U.S.-Russian security cooperation, according to former and current law enforcement officials and scholars of the countries’ relationship. Putin once named the United States as the “main opponent,” and the United States and Europe are the targets of aggressive high-tech and industrial espionage by Russia, according to intelligence officials. (Continue reading here.)

So far, federal agents have not discovered a connection between Tsarnaev and any foreign terrorist organization.

One of the three people killed in the bombing was Martin Richard, 8. His sister, Jane, remains in the hospital after losing part of her leg, according to a statement from the family:

Seven-year-old Jane, the statement said, is recuperating this week from her 11th surgery, and has successfully fought off infections and other complications after being unresponsive in the first two weeks after the attack.

Massachusetts cemeteries have refused to bury Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. From Oswald to McVeigh, the final resting place of infamous criminals has long been a subject of debate. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

“Last night’s operation marked an important milestone, as doctors were finally able to close the wound created when the bomb took her left leg below the knee,” the statement said.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.

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