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May 16. 2013 10:29PM

FBI Director Mueller defends the agency in Boston bombing

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Thursday defended the bureau’s handling of a Russian warning about a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing in the months before the attack.

Mueller told a Senate subcommittee that an FBI investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev initiated in March 2011 after a tip from Russian authorities found that Tsarnaev posed no terrorist threat. He said two later attempts to obtain more information from the Russians got no response, and the case was closed.

“As a result of this, I would say, thorough investigation, based on the leads we got from the Russians, we found no ties to terrorism,” Mueller told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on commerce, justice and science.

He acknowledged, however, that electronic notifications that Tsarnaev had left the United States in January 2012 and spent six months in Russia were not shared fully within the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston.

“To the extent that we go back and look and scrub and see what we could have done better, this is an area where we’re looking at and scrubbing it and doing better,” the FBI director said.

Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police four days after the April 15 bombing. His brother, Dzhokhar, 19, is recovering from gunshot wounds in a federal prison hospital and faces charges that could carry the death penalty in connection with the bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others. The brothers also are suspected of killing a campus police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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