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April 23rd, 2013
05:26 PM ET

Boston bombing suspect: Congress has questions for the FBI

Tensions on Capitol Hill have been flaring since the Boston bombings. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano defended the department's travel warning system, saying the DHS was aware when Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to Russia in 2012.

"The system pinged when he was leaving the United States," said Napolitano. But since the case against Tsarnaev had been closed in 2011, that ping did not raise any red flags.

"When you have a ping like that, or an alert like that, [then] immediately the FBI should have been notified about it," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

"If we are going to win this war on terrorism, we've got to have complete cooperation among all the departments that are involved in the war against terrorism," added Grassley.

Questions remain as to whether the FBI did its due diligence when the bureau investigated Tsarnaev in 2011. It appears the bureau talked to his parents, investigated his communications, and concluded there was no threat. But details that have come to light this week reveal Tsarnaev was extremist, at least in his views.

Grassley said the FBI did not do enough, and partially blamed the lack of coordination between departments for the oversight.

"When Department of Homeland Security knew something, and they didn't tell the FBI, then that probably is one reason why the FBI didn't go as far as they normally would have gone," added Grassley.

There have been closed door intelligence briefings by the FBI this week, with officials explaining to members of Congress what happened when the bureau investigated Tsarnaev.

"I think at least in the House of Representatives, you're going to have open hearings on this," said Grassley.

Grassley has been criticized for suggesting that changes to the country's immigration laws should be viewed in light of this terror attack. The Iowa senator said there are questions regarding how student visas are granted, in light of the Boston bombing suspect. The older brother staying in Russia until the last few days of the six months he is allowed to be out of the country should have raised another flag, added the senator.

"It's going to be a major issue when the immigration bill comes up, not because of the Boston bombers themselves," said Grassley, "but because of the fact that when you only do an immigration bill once every 25 years, and everybody knows that the borders aren't secured and terrorists can come into this country, and all of the protections aren't in place, it's something we have got to do right."

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