Eric Holder Defends FBI In Boston Bombing Investigation

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testifies during a hearing on the "Oversight of the Justice Department" held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Reuters

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the FBI “did a good job” in acquiring the information it received on Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, considering the circumstances.

“I think generally the FBI did a good job,” Holder testified Wednesday afternoon to the House Judiciary Committee, where he’s also being asked about the AP phone scandal and other issues. The attorney general conceded that it was “an issue” that FBI requests for information were not made in a timely manner.

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, disagreed, saying there was “troubling information” as to how several federal agencies were involved in intelligence gathering on Tsarnaev but “failed to connect the dots.”

“It does not appear that all of the information was received by all the pertinent parties, particularly the FBI,” the congressman said. When asked what the Justice Department was doing to adopt procedures when there are hits in terror databases, Holder only said that there is an ongoing inspector general investigation.

Holder was strongly attacked by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., on the attorney general's characterization of the FBI.

Gohmert was interested in exactly what the FBI asked of Tsarnaev, and claimed they weren't thorough over concerns of "political correctness."

"Did they ask who his favorite Islamic writer was? Are they allowed to ask those questions? Were they allowed to ask him who his favorite imam was?" the congressman asked Holder, saying he was "trying to determine how the FBI blew the opportunity to save people's lives by accepting the Russian information."

He was referring to Russian intelligence relaying concerns that Tsarnaev was radicalized during a trip to Dagestan last year.

"Because of political correctness, there was not a thorough enough investigation of Tamerlan to determine that this kid had been radicalized," Gohmert said. 

Holder shot back at Gohmert, saying the congressman was making assertions about an FBI investigation that he doesn't have access to.

"Unless somebody's done something inappropriate, you don't have access to the FBI files," the attorney general responded. "You simply do not know that and you have characterized the FBI as not being thorough. I know what the FBI did. You cannot know what I know."

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