In Washington on Wednesday, lawmakers in the House and Senate held separate hearings focused on lessons learned from the investigations into the Boston bombings and other domestic terrorist attacks since the September 11th attacks. Among those who testified was former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report.
In the first public hearings since the Boston attacks, members of Congress tried to figure out how events such as the attempted Times Square car bombing and the Fort Hood shooting occurred, and how to prevent them from happening again.
Officials say intelligence failures and a lack of information sharing among law enforcement agencies led to the September 11th attacks, so it was fitting that the man who led New York City through the attacks, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, was among the witnesses testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee.
Giuliani identified the new terror threat facing the U.S. as individual Muslim extremists, and he was direct in suggesting how to confront it.
"In order to confront this threat effectively, we have to purge ourselves of the practice of political correctness when it goes so far that it interferes with our rational and intellectually honest analysis of the identifying characteristics that help us discover these killers in advance," Giuliani said.
During the hearing, committee members accused the FBI of stonewalling their investigation. Their conspicuous absence was criticized by Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the committee's chairman.
"What concerns me greatly is that the problem at the heart of preventing the Boston bombings, is the failure to share information, that that is being witnessed now in this very room," McCaul said. "The information requested by this Committee belongs to the American people. It does not belong solely to the FBI."
The FBI said that testifying could undermine its current case. Still, Giuliani and members of the committee suggested that Massachusetts authorities might have stopped the Boston bomb plot if the FBI had shared its concerns about one of the brothers accused in the Boston attack.
Among other suggestions, Giuliani said the FBI might be lacking manpower to pursue investigations.
"I also think it's a matter of resources," he said. "The FBI, as I pointed out earlier, is only 12, 13,000 agents. That is a very small law enforcement agency. If the FBI doesn't want to pursue it, and they can be honest about because they just don't have the resources to do it, which they don't, then they should turn it over to Philadelphia police or Boston police or the New York police."
In something of a coincidence, Wednesday's hearing came on the same day that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned in a Massachusetts federal courthouse for his alleged role in the Boston attacks.