President Obama struck back at critics who have been bashing federal officials for failing to identify the radicalized Tsarnaev brother who masterminded the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured more than 260.
Speaking at a White House press briefing on the occasion of the 100th day of his second term, Obama praised the “exemplary” response of law enforcement agents, and dismissed criticism as inaccurate media efforts to create headlines.
“What we saw in Boston was state, local, federal officials, every agency, rallying around a city that had been attacked, identifying the perpetrators just hours after the scene had been examined,” he said. “We now have one individual deceased one in custody. Charges have been brought.”
Within the week of the bombing, one suspect, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had been killed in a shoot-out with law enforcement while his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is now in custody.
But critics such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the evidence that Tamerlan was on federal terrorist lists and had been viewed as a potential threat by both the Russian government and the C.I.A. meant the federal government let him slip slip through its fingers.
Obama said Graham’s critiques were “not right.” But, he added, “I’m sure [Graham’s comments] generated some headlines.”
“They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother,” Obama said. Since there was “no sign he was engaging in extremist activity,” the question, Mr. Obama said, is “was there something that happened that triggered radicalization and an actual decision by the brother to engage in the attack.”
But the president said that either way, the federal response was “exemplary.”
“We should be very proud of their work as obviously we’re proud of the people in Boston,” the president said.
“Based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties, Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing, but this is hard stuff,” he said.
But still, despite the president expressing confidence in law enforcement, Retired Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, the nation’s top intelligence official, has ordered a review of the Boston Marathon bombing case. Clapper asked the inspector general who oversees the intelligence community to take a broad look at various agencies’ handling of information they received long before the bombing.