2:34:41 PMFBI stonewalls Marathon probe, House committee chair says
WASHINGTON _ The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday lambasted the Federal Bureau of Investigation for what he called attempts to "stonewall” congressional investigations of the events leading up to the Boston Marathon bombings.
In opening the panel’s second hearing on the attacks, Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, criticized the FBI for not appearing before the committee. The FBI interviewed the alleged bombers two years before they set off a pair of explosives at the April 15 finish line.
"The FBI has refused to appear, and continues to refuse this committee’s appropriate requests for information and documents crucial to our investigation into what happened in Boston,” McCaul said.
"We are not stonewalling,” said spokesman Paul Bresson. "We have briefed his committee on several occasions and will continue to do so as necessary.”
Bresson also said that the bureau did not provide a witness for the hearing largely out of concern it could jeopardize the prosecution of the remaining bombing suspect.
"It’s an ongoing investigation and a pending prosecution,” he said.
McCaul’s comments were the strongest criticism of the FBI’s response from a congressional leader thus far. McCaul and other officials have expressed concern about a lack of communication among federal and local agencies regarding warnings from Russian intelligence authorities that the brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were becoming radicalized and posed a potential threat.
"Three months ago, there was a terrorist attack in our country, and it is this committee’s responsibility to find out how we did not see it coming,” McCaul continued. "What concerns me greatly is that the problem at the heart of preventing the Boston bombings – the failure to share information – is being witnessed now in this very room. The information requested by this Committee belongs to the American people. It does not belong solely to the FBI, and I sincerely hope they do not intend to stonewall our inquiry into how this happened.”
He said lawmakers would continue to press for the answers they seek.
"I said when I started this investigation that we were going to find out what happened, what went wrong and how to fix it,” McCaul said, "and I will not be satisfied until we get the answers that the American people deserve. ‘’
Among the witnesses in the Wednesday public hearing are former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, along with former US counter terrorism official and terrorism expert. Others who will later testify in secret are John Cohen, the deputy counter terrorism coordinator and senior adviser to the secretary of homeland security and Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counter Terrorism Center.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman, meanwhile, is also holding its first public hearing Wednesday on the bombing, where it will hear from a series of federal, state and local officials, including Richard Serino, deputy administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Kurt N. Schwartz, Massachusetts’ under secretary for homeland security and emergency management; and Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.
By Bryan Bender
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