National Security

Lieberman: Mistakes Made Before Boston

Former Sen.: Actions by FBI & DHS need to be examined

Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (D.) critiqued actions by the U.S. national security infrastructure prior to the Boston bombings Wednesday on CNN's "The Lead."

The former chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee likened the failures that preceded the Nidal Hasan Fort Hood shooting to inefficiencies that ultimately allowed Tamerlan Tsarnaev to slip through the grasp of the FBI and intelligence community:

JAKE TAPPER: Former Senator Joe Lieberman knows this process well. While he was chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2011 he and ranking member Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, put together a report on the Fort Hood shooting and Lieberman has been asked to testify at next week's House Homeland Security hearing on the Boston attack. He joins me now from Connecticut. Good to see you. Last time I saw you was in Newtown and this isn't a happier circumstance but it's good to have you on the show. I want to read part of your report on Fort Hood and the lessons learned. This was released in February, 2011, please put up the graphic right now. "The FBI's transformation to become an efficient and effective intelligence-driven organization focusing on preventing domestic terrorist attacks is unfinished." Now your report came out two years ago, after the events in Boston. Do you think the FBI's work is still unfinished? That was two years ago you said that. Have we made any progress?

JOE LIEBERMAN: Yeah. We've made progress, and I'd say over all since 9-11 there's been a tremendous progress made within the FBI to become a first rate domestic counterintelligence, counterterrorism agency, but mistakes were made in the Fort Hood Nadal Hasan case and here, too, as well. In that case they had real evidence that Hasan was communicating by e-mail with the radical cleric in Yemen Al-Awlaki, and it somehow got lost in the system and never got to the Army so that the Army might have taken action against Hasan before he was able to kill 13 people at Fort Hood. In this case, I think, the FBI's questioning of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has to be looked back at and seen whether there was more they could have [been] done. Did they convey information about him to the Joint Terrorism Task Force on which Massachusetts state and local police would have been present? And of course, most of all, what happened when he left for Dagestan and came back and the Department of Homeland Security knew that or at least the system showed it pinged, as Secretary Napolitano said, why didn't they go back and know it then? Why didn't they go back and investigate? So look, the FBI is a great agency but mistakes were made here and it's in everybody's interest most of all the FBI's to go back and fix what went wrong in this case.