“Why didn’t they involve the local law enforcers who could have stayed on the case and picked up signals from some of the students who interacted with them, from the people in the mosque,” asked former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who also testified. “In this case, aggravatingly, you have two of our great homeland security agencies that didn’t involve before the event the local and state authorities that could have helped us prevent the attack.”
Davis’ testimony revealed a gap in information-sharing between federal and local officials. That was somewhat reminiscent of intelligence failures that preceded the 2001 terror attacks. Unlike those lapses, however, it’s not clear that anything would have been different, whatever coordination there might have been.
Led by the FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Forces operate in many cities as a way to bring federal, state and local officials together to share information. The model has existed for decades but, after 9/11, task forces sprouted up in cities nationwide to ensure that police were not out of the loop on investigations like the one the FBI conducted into Tsarnaev.
The hearing was conducted by the House Homeland Security Committee. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Michael McCall, R-Texas, and ranking Democrat, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, both spoke of the importance of federal money, as did Lieberman.
“You can’t fight this war without resources,” Lieberman said.
In written testimony, Davis told lawmakers that cities should look at deploying more undercover officers and special police units and installing more surveillance cameras — but not at the expense of civil liberties.
“I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city,” Davis said. “We do not and cannot live in a protective enclosure because of the actions of extremists who seek to disrupt our way of life.”
Investigators used surveillance video from a restaurant near one of the explosions to help identify the Tsarnaev brothers.