Boston’s police chief says his department was never told about a Russian intelligence warning about one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Commissioner Edward Davis told a U.S. congressional hearing that he knew of no warnings about the Tsarnaev brothers, the siblings accused of carrying out the double bombings April 15 that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
Davis said that if Boston police had information about suspected militant Tamerlan Tsarnaev, officers would have "certainly" tried to talk to him.
But he acknowledged that even if Boston police had investigated Tsarnaev, officers still might not have been able to discover or disrupt the bomb plot.
The FBI closed its initial investigation of Tsarnaev after conducting a routine assessment of the ethnic Chechen following the Russian warning.
The U.S. FBI and CIA separately received vague warnings from Russia's government in 2011 that Tamerlan Tsarnaev could have Islamist militant leanings. Tsarnaev visited Daghestan in Russia's North Caucasus region in 2012.
Four days after the Boston bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a police shootout and his brother Dzokhar, 19, was arrested.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted of carrying out the bombing. The mother of the brothers has said the charges against them are lies.
Former Senator Joseph Lieberman told the May 9 hearing of the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee that he believed “it was possible to have prevented” the Boston attacks if U.S. agencies had communicated effectively.
"Could it have been prevented and stopped?" asked Lieberman, who pushed to strengthen U.S. security measures in the wake of the September 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks. "I believe that though it would not have been easy, it was possible to have prevented the terror attacks in Boston."
Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican, said he was worried that the ability of U.S. agencies to share information had not improved enough to protect Americans, despite billions of dollars spent since September 11, 2001.
"My fear is that the Boston bombers may have succeeded because our system failed." he said. "We can, and we must, do better."
Boston police Commissioner Davis told the committee that major public events in the United States like the Boston Marathon need tighter security. But he cautioned against creating what he called a "police state mentality" in the wake of the bombings.
In another development, officials said the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has now been buried.
But officials are declining to announce the burial site over fears it could become a shrine for extremists or site of protest.
Tsarnaev’s body had been kept at a funeral parlor in the town of Worchester while one local community after another rejected having the suspected bomber buried in their towns.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP