Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that the Boston Marathon bombing provides Congress with a “good case study” into whether law enforcement officials need to be equipped with more tools to monitor people suspected of having ties to radical Islam.
Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, also issued a stark warning, saying lawmakers must make sure they have the strongest laws on the books because there will future attacks on American soil.
“You knew this day was coming and there are more days like this coming,” Mr. Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I can tell you, I hate to say it, but there are more of these people coming after us, and the new way of hitting America is do to it inside, and there’s efforts afoot by international terrorists to recruit American citizens for their cause and we can’t be right every time. So, this is the future and we need to get ready for it.”
“What I’m worried about is what does this individual know about future attacks or terrorist organizations that may be in our midst?” the South Carolina Republican said. “We have the right to gather intelligence.”
“It would disturb me greatly if this administration is relying exclusively on the criminal justice system to gather intelligence,” he said, going on to note that suspects and their lawyer would become privy to intelligence gathered by U.S. agencies.
He also called for congressional hearings into how Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother who died during a confrontation with police, slipped through the cracks after Russia’s FSB security service warned the FBI in 2011 about his ties to radical Islam.
Mr. Graham said FBI officials told him Sunday that they followed up on the tip, but did not find any terrorist activity after interviews with him, his family and officials at his school. The FBI asked Russian officials for more information on Tsarnaev, but never received a response, he said. Mr. Graham said that the FBI was unaware of that he traveled to Russia for six months in 2011 because his name was misspelled.
“The response from the FBI was, ‘We are limited in what we can do. We monitor websites, but there are restrictions on how we can act,’” Mr. Graham said. “So long story short, we certainly missed it here and do we have the lack of tools we need to get people like this identified or was it a misuse of the tools available?”
“This may not have been a mistake, it might just be an insufficiency in our laws,” Mr. Graham said.
Mr. Graham also said he agreed with the administration’s decision to try the suspect in federal court for terrorism-related offenses rather than on state murder charges, because that means he could face the death penalty, a punishment Massachusetts does not have.