Transcript: Q&A with Rep. Bill Keating on the Boston Marathon bombings before the House Committee on Homeland Security – May 9, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A with Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) on the Boston Marathon bombings before the House Committee on Homeland Security on May 9, 2013:

Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.):
…The big picture is it’s just an extraordinary coordination – amazing. All that training, all that effort, and heroism that was involved in that. But I think we want to look carefully at some of the information sharing even during that period. You mentioned, Commissioner Davis, that you first learned of the individuals – the terrorist – Friday morning, just the senseless killing of Officer [Sean] Collier. At that moment, can you share with us who linked that in first to the terrorist attack, how that information was conveyed to you, how soon were you able to put the identities of these people and connect it to that atrocity as well?

Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner:
I can certainly speak about the pursuit of these individuals. I hesitate to get too far into who knew what when as far as the identification. This is part of the ongoing [review]. But let me do the best I can to answer your question.

We received word of Officer Collier’s murder within 30 minutes of the incident occurring. I received a call at my home…

Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.):
From whom?

Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner:
I received a call from [Boston Police] Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald, who was at the FBI command post at that time. But the information that we had received was that it was most likely associated with an armed robbery that had occurred prior. They were not establishing a link to our investigation at that point in time. But we were highly suspicious of them and everybody was concerned about it. But after a couple of phone calls, we sent officers to assist. My chief of department went to the scene and had a conversation with a Lt. Col. in charge of the investigation with the State Police, who was running that scene. And the first indications were it’s probably not related.

But after the carjacking occurred, it was clear that there was something going on. Deployed more officers into the area at that point and certainly as soon as the Watertown officers engaged the suspects and there were reports of firepower and bombs being involved, there was no doubt in my mind. So that’s the way things progressed.

Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.):
Okay, and when you were informed Friday morning about the identities, who conveyed that to you?

Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner:
The FBI. The FBI teams have been sent to process the body and they were very quick to identify who the individual was that was killed in the shootout.

Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.):
…The area that I think is worth pursuing that was mentioned here is that the message received from Russia, and I’m curious about people’s thoughts and I don’t think there’s anyone that would have an answer but exactly when the FBI tried to get more information, if they were so interested in this person and they initially informed the FBI, when the FBI tried to get further information from them, they didn’t get any even though they had asked. And I know there’s just such a history of distrust but there’s such an opportunity for mutual benefit in terms of both countries’ security in these areas, especially in the Caucasus region. But it’s clear that the insurgents in the Caucasus region now are not just focusing on Russia but western Europe and the U.S. now. So this communication’s going to be so important. Either Professor Southers or perhaps Sen. Lieberman could shed some light on how we can pursue better communications when it’s so much in our benefit to do that.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.):
Thanks, Congressman. I think you’re onto something very important. Look, I’m sure you know that particularly in the aftermath of 9/11, remarkable and very important transformations occurred in the FBI, which is that it has become a first-rate domestic intelligence counter-terrorism agency. And as part of that, offices have been opened around the world, including in Moscow, to create the relationships that will lead to information that will enable it to better protect us here at home. But again, this is all part of an ongoing investigation. I urge you to bring in the folks from the FBI and the CIA to talk about this.

But from what we know now, the notice from Russian intelligence to the FBI and the CIA was very vague, and of course, most significantly, as much as I know now, nothing was shared with us about what the Russian intelligence found out about what Tamerlan Tsarnaev was doing in Dagestan and Chechnya. There are media reports that he was meeting with a leader – a radical leader, et cetera, et cetera. We do know that when he came back, he showed much greater signs of over extremism as the mosque which pushed him out. You know, President Putin made a statement along with I believe President Obama – or maybe it was Secretary Kerry when he was there – that we have a common enemy here. It’s true. And we should be working together better and that’s true. But that didn’t happen in this case and that was very consequential.

Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.):
…Commissioner Davis or Secretary Schwartz, in New York they have camera systems that are all synchronized and coordinated. Is that unique to New York? Is that a pilot? They’re trying to make the cameras there more efficient because of the coordination. I don’t know how familiar you are. We had a witness here last week from New York talking about that. Could that be helpful in other cities?

Kurt Schwartz, Undersecretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security:
It’s certainly not unique to New York. When you look across in Massachusetts in our investment of homeland security grant dollars…we certainly have a history of investing in cameras for video surveillance. I have visited the BRIC, which has a quite complex, sophisticated system within the city of Boston. We also have capabilities, for example, in the State Emergency Operations Center to tie into transit system cameras, highway system cameras. And I think in the days, weeks, months ahead, as we begin to process what we’ve been through and think about how we’re going to deal with security around events in the future, we’ll have to spend more time looking at investing not just in the cameras but we really need to also focus on the analysis capability, the technology behind the cameras. Civil liberties also being important. We have to balance.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Q&A with Rep. Bill Keating on the Boston Marathon bombings before the House Committee on Homeland Security – May 9, 2013

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Testimony of Sen. Joe Lieberman on the Boston Marathon bombings before the House Committee on Homeland Security - May 9, 2013 | What The Folly?!

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