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

Partial transcript of Q&A with Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Penn.) on the Boston Marathon bombings before the House Committee on Homeland Security on May 9, 2013:

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Penn.):
…I also think a theme of communications has come through here. I want to credit you with an important thing during the entire process: the ability of your group to communicate and regularly through the media but that created a sense of cohesion and an ability for Americans to follow on for a very difficult time. I think that was a critical thing.

Second factor you’ve noted in your written testimony – the ability to communicate among each other, which included as well the ability of a separate capacity for law enforcement across jurisdictions. It’s a great story of steps that have been done.

The last thing, however, as we talk about communications, you did not receive from the FBI or others – and I know nobody wants to go through this event but you did. And the after action report – the analysis. You’ll watch the films, and it’ll be one of the places we can learn and so we encourage you to be critical as you go through that process and help us all learn together…

The issue of communication is an aspect of this and how people are doing it today. One of the things that bothers me as Tamerlan Tsarnaev is identified is having watched online videos of Anwar al-Awlaki. We’re seeing a bit more of that. We looked at hearings about people who did this.

Senator, you’ve been discussing the idea that it’s the ideology that is something that we are focused on. Who has the responsibility to identify places where the ideology is being centralized and serving as the place people are gravitating to? Is it Internet companies? Is it law enforcement? How do we look at that location as the place upon which we can monitor and what’s the appropriate level of monitoring?

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.):
You know, a very important question and not an easy one to answer. I can tell you is you probably know that there’s a lot of monitoring going on now by American law enforcement agencies of violent or jihadist websites or chat rooms, et cetera and that’s really been important. But it’s very hard to control, for instance, the uploading of violent YouTube sites.

In this case, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as we know, started a YouTube channel in which he was putting on Awlaki and other violent Islamist extremist advocates. I forgot the number but tens of thousands of such channels go up every hour on YouTube, and Google/YouTube has community standards which are quite admirable because they can’t pre-screen everything that goes up.

For a period of time, I had somebody in my Senate homeland security staff who was trying to follow these websites and when he’d seen one that was violent, he’d make a complaint to YouTube; they’d submit it to a board and they pulled a lot of them down. In this case – so it’s very hard to do this…

In this case, what I’m agitated by…is why nobody was particularly looking for the name Tamerlan Tsarnaev. By the time he came back from Chechnya, Dagestan and put up that channel of his, somebody should have been on him. Second and the most important responders to this ideology are people within the Muslim community. And again, they obviously are the great majority – overwhelming – that don’t accept this ideology. The rest of us can try by our outreach and by our advocacy to confront the ideology, but they’re our allies. The Muslim-American community is probably one of our greatest allies in this effort to stop this ideology. It’s not as easy as stopping an enemy.

Forgive me, but as thrilled as I was when we took down Osama bin Laden and as hard as that was, that was a direct target. It’s a lot harder to confront an ideology and to overwhelm.

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Penn.):
How do we connect the guidelines? Do we have the change the Department of Justice’s guidelines with respect to how far they can continue to hold investigations open? Do we go back and revisit whether or not people visited these kinds of jihadist websites once we have had some kind of a pre-disposition when there’s already been a report, as you’ve said? I mean, where do we start to – I’m disturbed that the FBI would have had information which we’ve already identified which made him a suspect or at least a person of concern; they closed the book but subsequently we’ve discovered what you’ve just talked about which is his participation in the violent jihadist websites.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.):
Well, I don’t have an easy or quick answer to that question but I’ll tell you I’ve learned enough from this case and I appreciate your question to feel very strongly that this committee, that the administration, the Department of Justice have to review the existing Attorney General guidelines for investigations by the FBI and most importantly to determine whether those guidelines constrained the FBI to stop prematurely as we look back now – stop the investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev after they were notified by the Russians and did they in any way send a message to the FBI agents that they shouldn’t share this information with the local law enforcement until they had a greater level of proof of the crime that was about to be committed. That’s a very high standard. It’s so high that it probably won’t allow law enforcement to act before the crime or in this case the terrorist attack occurs.


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2 Comments on “Transcript: Q&A with Rep. Patrick Meehan on the Boston Marathon bombings before the House Committee on Homeland Security – May 9, 2013

  1. Pingback: ANALYSIS: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman suggests AG guidelines may have "constrained" FBI from investigating Tamerlan Tsarnaev more aggressively | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: FBI did not inform Boston Police of Russian intel on Tamerlan Tsarnaev | What The Folly?!

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