Top Intel Official: ‘The Dots Were Connected’

James Clapper / AP
• April 25, 2013 11:37 am


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the most senior intelligence official in the Obama administration, made a stunning claim today about the Boston Marathon bombing at a conference outside Washington, D.C. Clapper told the audience in comments first reported by Wired magazine "the dots were connected."

"The rules were abided by, as best as I can tell at this point," Clapper is quoted as saying. "The dots were connected."

In fact, the older of the two Boston bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had been investigated by the intelligence community only to be cleared of any ties to violent extremism. The investigation came after Russian intelligence services tipped the CIA off that the older Tsarnaev brother was suspected of involvement in extremist activity.

He was placed on two separate watch lists in 2011, according the Wall Street Journal.

Contra Clapper, the New York Times reports today:

The picture emerging Wednesday was of a counterterrorism bureaucracy that had at least four contacts with Russian spy services about Mr. Tsarnaev in the year before he took a six-month trip to Russia in 2012, but never found reason to investigate him further after he returned, or at any time before last week’s attacks in Boston that killed 3 people and injured more than 260.

Lawmakers this week criticized federal officials for failing to share investigative leads in the months leading up to the attack, and the new disclosures are likely to increase Congressional scrutiny of why the authorities did not pay more attention to an overseas visit that may have helped radicalize Mr. Tsarnaev.

Clapper's statement is reminiscent of remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano following the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Detroit-bound flight by the so-called Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. Napolitano went on national television and claimed "the system worked" despite repeated warnings about Abdulmutallab, including an attempt by his own family to alert the US government about the threat he posed.