BOSTON (AP) — Sixteen hours after investigators began interrogating him, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings went silent: He’d just been read his constitutional rights.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev immediately stopped talking after a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s office entered his hospital room and gave him his Miranda warning, according to four officials of both political parties briefed on the interrogation. They insisted on anonymity because the briefing was private.
Before being advised of his rights, the 19-year-old suspect told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, only recently had recruited him to be part of the attack that detonated pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon finish line, two U.S. officials said.
The CIA, however, had named Tamerlan to a terrorist database 18 months ago, said officials close to the investigation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case with reporters.
The new disclosure that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was included within a huge, classified database of known and suspected terrorists before the attacks was expected to drive congressional inquiries in coming weeks about whether the Obama administration adequately investigated tips from Russia that Tsarnaev had posed a security threat.
Shortly after the bombings, U.S. officials said the intelligence community had no information about threats to the marathon before the April 15 explosions that killed three people and injured more than 260.
Washington is piecing together what happened and whether there were any unconnected dots buried in U.S. government files that, if connected, could have prevented the bombings.
Lawmakers who were briefed by the FBI said they have more questions than answers about the investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said lawmakers intend to pursue whether there was a breakdown in information-sharing, though Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said he “hasn’t seen any red flags thus far.”
U.S. officials were expected to brief the Senate on the investigation Thursday. That same day, the suspects’ parents, Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, plan to fly to the U.S. from Russia, the father was quoted as telling the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The family has said it wants to take Tamerlan’s body back to Russia.
It is unclear whether the issue of their younger son’s constitutional rights will matter since the FBI say he confessed to a witness. U.S. officials also said Wednesday that physical evidence, including a 9 mm handgun and pieces of a remote-control device commonly used in toys, was recovered from the bombing scene.
But the debate over whether suspected terrorists should be read their Miranda rights has become a major sticking point in the debate over how best to fight terrorism. Many Republicans, in particular, believe Miranda warnings are designed to build court cases, and only hinder intelligence gathering.
Christina DiIorio Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, said in an email late Wednesday, “This remains an ongoing investigation and we don’t have any further comment.”
Investigators have said the brothers appeared to have been radicalized through jihadist materials on the Internet and have found no evidence tying them to a terrorist group.
U.S. investigators traveled to the predominantly Muslim province of Dagestan in Russia and were in contact with the brothers’ parents, hoping to gain more information.