The timing certainly looks … intriguing. On Sunday morning, Russian forces raided the compound of an Islamist network once run by Abu Dujan in the Caucasus — a leader whose videos were in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s YouTube page. The raid killed the brother of the current leader:
It could also be a coincidence. Nick Paton Walsh reports for CNN that the Russians have been conducting these raids for months in an effort to tamp down Islamist activities in the Caucasus. The Russians aren’t drawing a connection between the two cases, at least not publicly. However, Abu Dujan’s network operated in Dagestan at the same time that Tamerlan came to Russia for six months, and shortly thereafter Tamerlan began highlighting their videos.
In the meantime, the Sunday talk shows focused more on the investigations here at home, both before and after the Boston Marathon bombing. Lindsay Graham pointed the finger at the FBI during his interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, saying that pre-9/11 “stovepiping” had returned:
Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies failed to link critical pieces of information before the attack that might have stopped the suspects in their tracks, several legislators insisted on Sunday.
“I think information sharing failed,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation”, describing the lack of inter-agency communication that allowed bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev to slip through the cracks, warning, “We’re going back to the pre-9/11 stove-piping” and “we’re going to have to up our game.”
That question wasn’t limited to Graham or CBS:
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said the FBI did an “outstanding job” of solving the case after the attack, but added, “I don’t think they did a full investigation beforehand…I think they continued to give the benefit of the doubt” each time Tsarnaev raised a red flag, and “therefore just closed out that investigation.”
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., similarly wondered whether the dots were not “all followed” as assiduously as they should have been on ABC’s “This Week.”
The FBI had its defenders, too:
“I think it’s too early to start pointing fingers and blame,” said House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on “This Week,” pointing out that the FBI’s investigation yielded no “derogatory information” about the suspects.
“At some point, the FBI doesn’t just get to investigate Americans or people here who are here illegally just because they want to,” he said.”
“The FBI is bound by law,” explained CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, on “Face the Nation,” “And they did a 90-day assessment on this, which means they investigated this guy for three months. But after that, the rules say, if you don’t find something that’s not covered by the first amendment or that’s going to lead you somewhere else, you have to close that out.”
I think Rogers meant people who are here legally. And he and Miller are right about that, but the question is why the FBI didn’t follow up on more derogatory information they received about the Tsarnaevs, and why the CIA’s addition of Tamerlan and his mother to the TIDE database didn’t prompt a new investigation. That’s the stove-piping that Graham’s pointing out.