Boston bombings, morning thread: DHS site says “no current alerts”
posted at 6:49 am on April 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of movement overnight in the Boston bombings story. The investigation into what has been called a terrorist attack continues, but the feds aren’t saying much. They don’t appear concerned that this might be an ongoing series of attacks, as Breitbart discovered when Matthew Boyle checked the website for the Department of Homeland Security:
The Department of Homeland Security has not issued a terror alert in response to Monday’s bombings in Boston. On the Department of Homeland Security’s National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) website, the administration says: “There are no current alerts.”
According to a source with knowledge of these matters, a terror alert “gives authority for full mobilization of law enforcement resources to feds, state and locals.” The source told Breitbart News that the administration is supposed to issue such an alert out of the National Counterterrorism Center, via NTAS, but no such alert has been issued after the bombings in Massachusetts.
Describing the NTAS on a Frequently Asked Question page, the Department of Homeland Security says:
When there is credible information about a threat, an NTAS Alert will be shared with the American public. It may include specific information, if available, about the nature of the threat, including the geographic region, mode of transportation, or critical infrastructure potentially affected by the threat, as well as steps that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves and help prevent, mitigate or respond to the threat.
When she announced the new NTAS system’s development in a January 2011 speech, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the system would issue alerts providing Americans with as much information as possible about a terrorist attack as soon as possible.
“When we have information about a specific, credible threat, we will issue a formal alert providing as much information as we can,” Napolitano said then, according to CNN. “The alerts will be specific to the threat. They may recommend certain actions or suggest looking for specific suspicious behavior. And they will have a specified end date.”
As of 6:35 this morning, this is still what the page displays:
Yesterday, officials in Boston said they had no alerts before the attack. That still seems to be the case.
No one has taken responsibility for the bombings yet, but the Pakistani Taliban felt compelled to deny any involvement:
The Pakistani Taliban, which has threatened attacks in the United States because of its support for the Pakistani government, on Tuesday denied any role in the marathon bombings.
The group’s spokesman, Ahsanullah Ahsan, denied involvement in a telephone call with The Associated Press. He spoke from an undisclosed location.
The FBI wrapped up a lengthy search early this morning in nearby Revere, and took evidence with them as they left:
WBZ-TV reported late Monday that law enforcement officers were searching an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that a search warrant related to the investigation into the explosions was served Monday night in Revere, but provided no further details.
Some investigators were seen leaving the Revere house early Tuesday carrying brown paper bags, plastic trash bags and a duffel bag.
WBZ has a video update this morning, and reports that the Revere lead seems solid:
The 8-year-old boy killed in the attack yesterday has been identified by the Boston Globe as Martin Richard of Dorchester. I’m sure we will all offer our prayers for his family today, and the families of the other victims.
More as developments unfold.
Update: There will be another press conference this morning at 9:30 ET. We’ll have a separate open thread for that.
Update: Politico reports that the FBI continues to consider a “badly burned” foreigner held at a hospital to be “a person of interest”:
Law enforcement is investigating a foreign national in connection with Monday’s powerful twin bombings at the Boston Marathon, POLITICO has learned.
The foreigner, who was badly burned, was in the United States on a student visa and is considered a person of interest and possible suspect in the case but has not been formally charged or arrested. …
Several media outlets have indicated law enforcement is focusing on a Saudi Arabian national, but POLITICO did not immediately confirm the nationality of the foreigner drawing attention from the authorities.
Update: The Boston Herald provides another sobering dash of reality as we try to figure out how this could have been prevented:
“When the terrorist has planned an attack and they’re going to utilize an IED as their weapons of strategic influence, it’s hard to stop that in a free and open society,” said Grant Haber, a security consultant who runs the firm American Innovations. “It’s difficult. Where we can do a better job is focusing our efforts via a whole-of-government approach, and focus our efforts on gaining a better control on homemade explosive precursors.”
The bombs could easily have been hidden in a backpack, avoiding all suspicion among the thousands of spectators who flooded the Back Bay yesterday, experts said. …
Retired FBI bomb technician Kevin G. Miles said the attack could “easily” have been the work of one person.
“A one-man operation could easily do something like this,” Miles said. “It would take some coordination, some know-how and some intelligence, but a lot of bombers throughout history have been one person.”
Lone-wolf attacks are the most difficult to stop. Conspiracies require communication and coordination, which creates vulnerabilities. That’s not to say this was a lone-wolf scenario, of course, but it’s certainly a possibility.