CAPITOL HILL — Veteran Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says for him, the Boston Marathon bombings are a case study in the failure of the U.S. national security system, nearly 12 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He spoke to reporters Thursday after U.S. intelligence officials briefed members of the U.S. Senate on the latest information on the Boston attacks.
Senator Graham has been a harsh critic of the Obama administration's handling of last year's September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
Now, he is also sharply criticizing Democratic President Barack Obama for presiding over what he believes is another failure by U.S. national security agencies to prevent last week's Boston marathon bombings. Senator Graham said he still has questions about how Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, were able to carry out the bombings that left three people dead and 264 others injured when Tamerlan was on U.S. counterterrorism watchlists.
“The suspected radical Islamist, the person we got warning lessons about, is openly on the Internet for months talking about killing Americans and engaging in radical Jihad against the United States and we were unable to connect the dots and pick that up. The rest is history. Between [the attack on the U.S. consulate in] Benghazi and Boston, our systems are failing and we are going backwards,” Graham said.
Graham praised President Obama for the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, but said the president needs to realize that the United States is still at war with what he called radical Islam.
Other U.S. lawmakers have praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other U.S. security officials for their success in finding the Tsarnaev brothers suspected of the Boston attacks so quickly.
The Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, defended the FBI.
“The FBI is total hands on this thing now, and they are committed to follow this through, bring everyone to justice, understand all of the elements of it, but they have to be given an opportunity,” Feinstein said.
Several U.S. lawmakers have said it is too early to begin hearings into the bombings, because the FBI investigation is ongoing, and authorities are still attempting to question Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is in custody in a Boston hospital. But two House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittees are holding the first hearing on the bombings Friday, on "Islamist Extremism in Chechnya."