Boston Marathon Bombing

Why Didn't the FBI Take the Tsarnaev Bros. More Seriously?


The Daily Beast's Eli Lake explains why the Tsarnaevs didn't elicit stronger responses from the FBI after they were tipped off by the Russian intelligence service, the FSB:

"The FSB is mad at a lot of Chechens," said Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, who noted that he did not know at this point whether there was enough intelligence to warrant a full-scale investigation into Tsarnaev in 2011. "Not all of them are terrorists, and even fewer of them are dangerous to the United States."

"When stuff like this happens, we did what we did we called the long pause," said Hayden. "You get with your staff, you say it's these two Chechen idiots, you see what's in the database. You collect so much stuff, then you go and explain it eventually to Congress."…

"We've all been through this," said Hayden, who was director of the NSA on 9/11, about the criticism the FBI is now receiving. "People like me view this as the FBI's turn."

Read the whole thing.

NEXT: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Says His Brother Planned the Boston Marathon Bombing

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  1. Gillespie has been hittin’ the booze again?

    1. This is a Libertarian site. He is clearly stoned.

      1. If we legalize meth this is what the Hit and Run site will look like 24/7.

        I can live with it. I like the comments best, anyway.

        1. Damn! They fixed it! I was curious what this thread would like two hours from now.

          1. Would have been the most interesting thread on the site.

            1. Would be great if the hide the other fucked post while still allowing comments, turning it into a secret hide away.

              1. Why did they delete it? Why!

                1. Why did they delete what? Damn it, I missed out on something.

                2. “Nothing is *ever* gone from CyberSpace.”

                  1. I’m sure it’s stored somewhere, just not on my box.

  2. The precogs screwed this one up, for sure.

  3. The FBI took them as seriously as Gillespie did posting this article.

    1. To be fair, it is a link to an Eli Lake article.

    2. I bet nobody thought to keep a screenshot. Too bad, it sounds like it.kight have been as embarrassing as the rumored pics of nude Welch on a Donkey.

      1. they’re not a rumour. Didn’t you get the email?

        1. Frick! No! When did I get kicked off the mailing list?

  4. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  5. So the intelligence community sucks up so much information from so many different sources that it can’t possibly follow it all.

    I’m so glad that Michael Hayden (aka Red Foreman) fought so hard for warrantless wiretapping.

    1. Maybe it would help if they weren’t giving themselves information overflow by spying on every living being on earth.

  6. Why didn’t they recognize them after they had photos and arrest them without warning them? The explanation I can come up with is, they are collecting so much crap information from all their spying programs that they can not distinguish between good and bad info and then ignore all of it. They had an alert from a foreign government, they had interviews with the bombers, they had photos of the bombers, but they could not put it together. Complete failure. Thursday and Friday’s events are completely the FBIs fault.

    1. ^^THIS^^ They collect everything. But they have so much they have no way of vetting it. So even when they do get a good tip, like the one they got from the Russians in this case, it is unlikely they will ever recognize how valuable it is and act on it.

      1. Maybe it’s time to admit the Keystone Cops in charge of our national security can’t prevent attacks even when the warning flags are tossed right into their laps. And that being the case the Patriot Act should be completely dumped. And maybe it would be if it’s sole purpose wasn’t to simply to strip all of us of our guaranteed protections.

      2. “The one” they got from the Russians???

        The Russians have probably sent them HUNDREDS. Like you said, they are overflowing with crap information and have no brains to vet it.

        The boy who cried wolf, writ large.

    2. The explanation I can come up with is, they are collecting so much crap information from all their spying programs that they can not distinguish between good and bad info and then ignore all of it.

      This. All those camera that go up, someone has to watch the video feed to make them of actual use. That data center in Utah that is supposed to have a duplicate of the internet or something like that. Tottally fucking useless. And the more information that collect, without knowing where to look, is useless.

      1. They believe in the algorithm unicorn. Some really smart programer somewhere is going to write a piece of code that conducts an algorithm that magically connect the dots across trillions and trillions of piece of seemingly unrelated information. I am not kidding.

        1. The algorithm unicorn…. Oh I believe it.

        2. The problem is that before and after that guy makes the perfect algorythm for detecting crime, a bunch of other dudes will make similar algorythms that give back varying numbers of false positives and negatives and the perfect algorythm will once more be lost in the noise.

    3. they are collecting so much crap information from all their spying programs that they can not distinguish between good and bad info

      Wasn’t this part of the explanation for why they “missed” the 19 suspected terrorists who were in the country prior to 9/11? Most of our national security apparatus is just kabuki theater anyway.

      I won’t be surprised if it turns out there was some kind of memo from the Boston FBI office about the Tsarnaev brothers that was ignored by the higher ups, if they were even aware of it.

      1. Yeah, how could they have figured out that one, what with 20 foreign nationals learning to fly planes (minus the landing part), after being tipped off by field agents in Minneapolis and Phoenix, spying on them in Oklahoma, and actually arresting one?

    4. According to the not-very-reliable DEBKAfile, The Tsarnaev brothers were double agents who decoyed US into terror trap. This seems possible.

  7. I said this before, this case is just another example of how useless our national security apparatus is. Every single time there is an act of Islamic terror in this country the perpetrator is someone who was obviously dangerous and known to authorities. Yet, in every case the FBI didn’t do anything. If they can’t stop people who are dangerous and brought directly to their attention, what can they do? Mostly the FBI seems to be able to troll stupid people into bomb plots to obtain convictions on plots that probably wouldn’t had occurred had the FBI not instigated it. But stopping actual dangerous people, they seem incapable of doing that.

    1. Mostly the FBI seems to be able to troll stupid people into bomb plots to obtain convictions on plots that probably wouldn’t had occurred had the FBI not instigated it.

      The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is exactly what was happening, but the FBI couldn’t stop the Brothers Tsarnaev in time when the older one got some initiative.

      1. It is not really a conspiracy theory. I am not saying there is some big plot in the higher echelons of government to ensure a steady stream of terror plots to keep the public supportive of anti terror policies. It is much simpler than that. FBI agents and US Attorneys get promoted and make their careers based on convictions. And nothing makes a career like busting a terror plot. But finding a terror plot is really hard. There are not that many of them. And most of the people who are associated with this ideology are stupid cranks and malcontents. So you spend your life listening to wiretaps and reading emails from the local radical Muslim mosque or social group that is mostly people blowing off steam and bitching but not actually plotting anything. That is never going to make your career. So what they do is send an informant in to facilitate things a bit so they can get an actual plot and a conviction. I really think it is a simple case of laziness and careerism.

  8. Wouldn’t want to offend any practitioners of the religion of peace.

  9. Why Didn’t the FBI Take the Tsarnaev Bros. More Seriously?


    1. For the win.

    2. Looking at your gut there Sugarfree, you could use a little sequestration yourself.

      1. Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsell’d with doctors, and calculated close,
        I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.

        1. So when the zombie apocoplyse comes… If I have to resort to cannibalism, you could, like, feed a family of 4?

          1. My flesh is poisonous.

  10. The other reason I think they missed it was that people try to ascribe way too much geopolitical rationality to militants. They think that a radical Islamic Chechen would not have any reason to bomb the US since the Chechen’s complaint is against the US. Sadly, the world doesn’t work that way. These people really are not that interested in geopolitical realities. They just want to make war on anyone who is not a radical Muslim.

    1. I mean they think the Chechens’ complaint is against Russia not the US.

      1. EDIT BUTTON!

    2. Or why does there even have to be geopolitical motives at all?

      Blowing this

      up just to watch the blubber fly, would be a hoot.

      1. Some people just want to watch the world burn. You can’t ascribe logic and long term strategy to someone who wants to blow people up at a marathon.

    3. EXCEPT – the chechens in general are *not* radical muslims – they are seperatists who want to no longer be part of Russia.

    4. Seriously, after Beslan and the theater incident, why would anyone in the US establishment see Chechen separatists as anything other than Islamist radicals?

      I know, there really are some people that stupid, and also in charge of whole departments in our government; it’s just one of those moments when you realize some things are worse than you thought.

      1. The United States Government Department of Stupidity aka The entire U.S. government.

  11. People like me view this as the FBI’s turn.

    So, basically, these people just engage in bureaucratic infighting. Fuck counterterrorism!

    1. That is all they do. That is all they ever have done. Now you understand why I find my job so uninteresting and goof off on Reason so much. It is never about the mission. It is always and forever about making sure some other agency doesn’t infringe on your statutory authority / bureaucratic turf. That is it. The world does not belong to Orwell like a lot of people think. The government could never be competent and unified enough to create anything like 1984. We live in Kafka’s world.

      1. How does one go about landing a job like that? I too spend much of my day reading Reason, but sometimes my work requires taking my eyes off the browser for a few minutes.

        1. My job does too.

    2. Well, to be fair – the CIA technically couldn’t do anything about them *except* pass the info off to FBI and DHS.

      CIA’s charter limits them to *foreign* intelligence work only – they’re not supposed to be spying on people inside the US.

  12. Take an algorithm with a 99% success rate and give it a million data points. It will generate 10,000 false leads.

    Data mining is never going to prevent a terrorist attack, but it can help clean up the mess afterwards.

  13. I am going to make this data point useless:

    Bomb, ba bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb, bombers, hide the bomb, to light the bomb, where should I put the bomb, the bomb is in…..


  14. It seems quite possible to me that the reason the FBI didn’t take any more action is that there was no evidence or reason to. There is no reason to believe that someone could not hatch a terrorist plot without leaving any clues that the FBI could pick up on.

    1. This was exactly my thought. Just because they did this shit now doesn’t mean they’ve always been considering it. It’s entirely possible the motivation wasn’t there at the time.

  15. The FBI has too many agents who are ignorant of the world they live in… that’s my guess.

    Philip Mudd, who was all over the TV this weekend, is an ex-intelligence guy and he had no idea what he was talking about.

  16. they did take him seriously. That’s why they radicalized him. The timetable was brought forward when Carmen Ortiz came under fire for the whole Aaron Swartz thing; she needed a feather in her cap to advance in the political ladder. A conviction of radicalized terrorists about to blow up the boston marathon would have done it!

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