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Lawmakers want to know why FBI was unable to stop Boston bomber

April 22. 2013 10:12PM

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers will question senior security officials this week about whether the FBI mishandled information on one of the Boston bombing suspects flagged as a possible Islamist radical by Russia two years ago.

Top investigators are to brief the full House today about the failure to spot the danger from Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of two ethnic Chechen brothers suspected of carrying out the bombings.

Lawmakers want to know why the FBI discounted the older Tsarnaev brother as a possible threat after interviewing him in 2011. The following year, he flew to Russia and visited the southern regions of Dagestan and Chechnya, where Islamist militants are active.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham accused the FBI of "dropping the ball" on Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed Friday morning.

On Monday, he questioned why Tamerlan Tsarnaev's online connections to radical websites did not cause the FBI to identify him as a potential threat and suggested that the country may need to alter privacy laws to allow closer tracking of online activity.

The full Senate is expected to receive a briefing from intelligence officials later in the week, aides said.

"We're going to have to sort it out," said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will be briefed on the case during a closed hearing today.

She declined further comment.

Graham said he had spoken to the FBI Monday, which explained that Moscow did not reply to later U.S. requests for more information about the suspect.

"This is an example of where we need better cooperation," Graham told a news conference. "They indicated to us that they never received any input from the Russians after the 2011 inquiry," said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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