The House Homeland Security Committee's hearing on assessing attacks on the Homeland: From Fort Hood to Boston.

The House Homeland Security Committee's hearing on assessing attacks on the Homeland: From Fort Hood to Boston. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

FBI Is a No-Show at Boston Bombing Hearings

The agency may have good reasons for holding back, but its absence is irking House lawmakers.

The House Homeland Security Committee’s hearing Wednesday on the Boston Marathon bombing will be conspicuously missing a witness from the agency at the center of the investigation—the Federal Bureau of Investigation—and the debate could grow heated over that fact.

The FBI’s absence is striking. Its role in handling warnings from Russian officials about the deceased terrorist suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev—who was investigated and later fell off the radar—has been called into question.

Whether federal law enforcement officials failed to connect the dots that could have prevented the tragedy remains under investigation by the House Homeland Security Committee, and the FBI’s role is an important part of that examination.

Under the leadership of Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the committee is investigating the Boston terrorist attack, with a deep examination into the integrated law enforcement and intelligence communication network that sprang up in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, under the Department of Homeland Security, to prevent continued stove-piping of information.

The committee is comparing the Boston bombing with other terrorist efforts since 9/11 and is keen to answer whether any communication or security breakdowns that occurred in the lead-up to the Boston attack are endemic of systemic problems in need of reform.

The FBI has conducted closed-door briefings for all members of Congress and special ones for Intelligence Committee members, but none specifically related to the Homeland Security Committee investigation. It is refusing to testify publicly on the attack, citing its ongoing investigation and pending prosecution of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“As long as the case is open, I don’t see how we can participate in public hearings,” said Paul Bresson, a spokesman for the FBI. “We’ve been providing briefings to Congress on this investigation.”

The FBI said it sent a letter to McCaul on July 3 explaining that it could not testify and has sent other letters arguing its restraints in providing information.

A point of contention is that while the FBI cites the pending case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a reason it cannot comply, the committee is looking for answers about what happened with information known about his brother, Tamerlan.

Other reasons for the lack of cooperation could be that the Homeland Security Committee does not have direct oversight of the FBI, although the committee generally has oversight on the subject of attacks on the homeland.

The FBI might have justifiable reasons for holding back, but its absence is irking committee leaders who feel the agency is hamstringing its investigation.

“The FBI continues to deny the committee’s request for information and documents related to the bombing,” a committee aide said. “We hope that the FBI sends a witness. We think it is important for them to testify.”

There are ways the FBI could work through its conflicts. The committee has announced it could move to hold part of the hearing with federal officials in a closed-door classified setting, and in either an open or closed venue the FBI could refuse to answer any question it felt might jeopardize the pending case.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee also holds a hearing Wednesday focused on lessons learned from Boston.

This article appears in the July 10, 2013, edition of National Journal Daily as FBI Is a No-Show at Boston Bombing Hearings.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.