Graham: 'Ultimate blame' for Boston attacks on administration
April 25th, 2013
11:39 AM ET
10 years ago

Graham: 'Ultimate blame' for Boston attacks on administration

Washington (CNN) - Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday the administration is to blame for not preventing last week's terror attack at the Boston Marathon finish line.

This marks the first time the attacks have been so politicized in the search for answers for how the two brothers suspected of the bombings slipped past government anti-terror detection measures.

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Graham put it in the same category as the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed. Graham and other lawmakers, mostly Republicans, argue the Benghazi attack was a major security failure on the part of the Obama administration.

Asked if Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano bears responsibility for allowing Tamerlan Tsarnaev to fall through the cracks of federal agencies, Graham said the fault falls on a broader scale.

"I have no idea who bears the blame. I just know the system is broken. The ultimate blame I think is with the administration," he told CNN on Capitol Hill. "The FBI and the CIA are, they have great people but you know we're going backwards in national security. Benghazi and Boston to me are examples of us going backward."

Graham has been one of the most vocal lawmakers in Congress who's been critical of the government's handling of Tsarnaev, who was investigated by the FBI in 2011 at the request of Russian authorities over concerns of radicalization.

Tsarnaev, who died last week after a shootout, and his brother, Dzokhar, are accused of plotting and carrying out last week's bombings, as well as killing an MIT police officer. The marathon blasts killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

Later Thursday, Graham spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper, saying he was simply offering "appropriate criticism" of the administration.

"Bin Laden may be dead, Anderson, and I'm glad he is. But radical islam is not, and in our own backyard the threat is growing," he said.

"And 'knock off jihadists' is probably not the right term to use, I think it's quite frankly minimizing the threat we face," he said, referring to Vice President Joe Biden's description of the two brothers on Wednesday.

The senator argued Congress should share in part of the criticism, saying budget cuts have put pressure on federal security agencies. Asked if he's politicizing the issue, Graham said the goal is "not to blame (the administration) exclusively, but to fix it."

"When Bush screwed up, I said I think you're screwing up about Iraq, Mr. President," he said. "At the end of the day, the administration in chage deserves the credit when it works and the blame when it fails."

In addition to interviews with Tsarnaev and his family members, the FBI says it checked databases, phone conversations, travel history and plans, and associations with persons of interest.

At the time, however, they "did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign," the agency has said in a statement.

Tsarnaev later traveled to Russia in 2012, where he spent six months.

Members of Congress have been calling for hearings to learn more about the investigation of Tsarnaev and communication between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA.

Napolitano told legislators on Tuesday that Tsarnaev's departure for Russia in January 2012 pinged "the system," but Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said, told CNN Wednesday that the information apparently never made it to the FBI.

"They were not apparently sharing that information," he said. "So the FBI, according to what we now understand, did not know that he was in Russia for six months and and did not follow up on his return. So all of these things lead to more questions about what needs to be done to make sure that these types of things don't happen in the future."

Officials have been looking into what he may have done there during that time. The young man is believed to have posted videos online tied to militant jihadists in the region.

Sources told CNN that Russia had separately asked the FBI and the CIA to look into Tsarnaev in 2011.

But a ranking Democrat on a House intelligence subcommittee said Thursday he does not see an intelligence-sharing failure.

This information was put in a database, it was shared among different agencies, it was shared with a joint terrorism task force, and that's exactly what should happen," U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, told CNN.

"Some are racing to say that the FBI dropped the ball or the agencies weren't talking to each other, and that just doesn't seem to be the case," he added. Schiff is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence.

- CNN's Tom Cohen and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Boston Marathon bombing • Libya • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. luke,az

    This guy is incompetent. He is one of the reasons the republican party is looking more like a mastodon than an elephant. For America to move forward people like Sen. Graham need to be removed from office.

    April 25, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    Just remember senator graham, when you point a finger, there are four fingers pointing back at YOU. The rethugs cut funding for security for overseas embassies and outlying facilities which put them at greater risk. And before any mouthbreathers try to blur the lines with "Hillary denied them additional security", try to sell it somewhere else because that didn't happen, and all your feeble attempts at semantics won't change that.

    April 25, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    I would have to agree, that the administration had failings that allowed this to happen. Several failings, as a matter of fact.

    April 25, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Larry in Houston

    well, here goes 'ol Lindsey – ranting & raving – – lol wonder how long he's gonna rant about this one ? I mean between him & McCain, they ranted & raved about Benghazi for months, and I suspect they will blab their pie holes about anything else this administration does, until they see somebody they "like" in office. Even when "dubya" was in office, "mistakes" were made, as in every administration has done. Nobody's perfect, ya know.
    I hope the people in S.C. votes this guy Out. But unfortunately, once they're IN, they're IN, and the majority of 'em are in there for Life.

    April 25, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. Canuck

    "Graham put it in the same category as the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya"

    ...but not in same category as the 9/11 attacks that the Bush administration were warned about , according to Graham?

    April 25, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Jack

    Here's a thought. Why not disband the Dept. of Homeland Insecurity, place the FBI under the Justice Dept. the CIA under the NSC and the Coast Guard under the Dept. of Defense? I wonder how much savings that would be in Money and lives.

    April 25, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. lolo

    The Gop just cannot quit blaming President Obama for everything can they? If they would move on voting on issues that need their attention this would not have happen. They have yet to vote on an immigration bill since Dubya and have the nerve to blame someone else. They cause all of America's problem and then blame other people as usual. I am so sick of these clowns. Come 2014 they will be voted out because the rest of America are sick of their lies, hatred, racism and stupidity. Just vote out all of all these nutcases out. They are so far up the fat cats behinds they do not want to give up the under table payoffs. Oh you can bet that the GOP/TP will deny this all the way to the bank, but it is definitely true of their character. They also have the nerve to complain the wait at airports and this would not have happened if they had voted responsibly. Such hypocrits. The house is on vacation more than they work, because they are too busy being greedy.If they would do their jobs there would be no problems.

    April 25, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Darryl

    This guy continues to use tax payers dollars to demonize this Administration about anything and everything imanageable on earth. He's a Lunitic and needs to go out into the world and get a job somewhere in a factory or diging ditches like most americans are doing. In reality, He and his buddys ( The GOP ) are causing catastrophic hatred twords us americans by continueally going into other countrys and slattering innosent men, women & children for NO good reason. Praying to God 1 day and the next day advocateing and send our young men to other countrys to kill people because they don't believe our ways.Or they have something we want and were going to take it, like it or not. So, NO ONE should ever wonder why people are going to Hate us and always try to kill as many of us as they can. Religion & Land will be the very thing that brings total catastrophic & devistation to this world includeing the United States by way of Necular Weapons. Religiong is Evil and always will be. People will just NEVER admit it or see it as it really is.

    April 25, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |

    So Stupid! Graham has got to go! WAKE UP S.C.!

    April 25, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. patNY

    Oh please! If the men's toilet in the Senate clogged, Lindsay would blame Obama and his administration for destroying the entire sewage system in DC.

    April 25, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. America Above Parties

    This aging Boy is getting really out of control with Monday Quaterbacking except in his and his GOP buddies, it is Tusday, Wednesday, ... never ending quaterbacking. I am really sick and tired of their cheap opportunistic self-serving shots, America fails, We GOP win mentality. Guess what, America fails, WE ALL FAIL, Period.

    April 25, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. MaryM

    Lindsey Graham is having a horrendous year. Just cant keep his mouth shut. And when he opens his mouth it is to change feet. PLEASE, South Carolina, vote this do nothing obstructionist out of office, ASAP

    April 25, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Lindsey, honey... bless your heart, but I don't give a fig newton who you blame.

    Personally, I'm going to continue to blame those two punks ... you know who they are. The two brothers who actually committed the crime.

    I'm also going to blame them by not trying to glorify their awful deed by elevating them to a higher level than the bottom feeding scum they are (and / or were).

    April 25, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. MTATL67

    Republicans should read that old Russian fable 'The boy who cried wolf'. They have blamed darn near everything on the president. They have blamed so much people tuned them out.

    April 25, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Joi Gibson

    Does this mean the ultimate blame for 9/11 falls on GWB and Darth Vader? This guy loves being on TV and flapping his jaws. Senator Graham is a disgrace!!!!

    April 25, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. wwf

    Perfect time for this statement with the opening of the Bush building. 911 ring a bell Mr. Graham? Oh, Bush is a Rep. his administration did no wrong. Just ask them and the GOP Party.

    April 25, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Mikey

    This is the guy who's name is on the bill that ended the separation of investment and commercial banking, setting the stage for the excessive risk taking that led to the Great Recession – something I'm sure he doesn't take responsibility for... and yet he is throwing stones at the Administration for the one successful non-military related attack by a couple of misfits who seemed to have almost no connection with any specific terrorist organization.

    It's like a the blame that has been thrown around about Benghazi attacks, when the Obama Administration has a much better record on Embassy attacks than any administration in over three decades.

    Must be nice to have selective memory.

    April 25, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. anotherGDlefty

    Wait a minute....the GOTP mouthpiece is blaming Obama for something......stop the presses.
    4 people were killed and the killers were caught in 4 days. 3k plus were killed on 9/11 and the man responsible wasn't killed for 10 years and the person that ordered the killing was not the president when 9/11 happened.

    Dear Lindsay, please read the 9/11 commissions report if you would like to honestly talk about intelligence watch this drive!

    April 25, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Bill

    What a clown. And yes, Lindsay, let us not forget the Bush administration was to blame for the September 11 attacks. Two weeks before the planes hit, the administration ignored intelligence that bin Laden was plannning to use planes as bombs. Vote this idiot out of office South Carolinians.

    April 25, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Jeff in Virginia

    So- by this logic, 9/11 was Bush's fault. Thanks for clearing that up Sen. Graham.

    April 25, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Vince

    So then I assume Mr. Graham places the blame of 9/11 and the death of 3,000 Americans on Mr. Bush's shoulders, right?

    April 25, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    I don't give a hoot who Lindsey Graham blames.

    I personally am going to continue to blame the two brothers who committed the crime.

    April 25, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. The Elephant in the Room

    When a Republican yaps about something ALWAYS follow the MONEY. There are 500,000 people in that terror data base. Does Graham advocate that all 500,000 be tailed 24/7, that we wiretap their cell phone & landlines? Exactly how man $70K/year agents should we devoted to each one Lindsey? Please tell the REST of US how to manage the CIA & FBI you armchair, Monday morning quarterback wussy.

    Where did you argue for this course of action in the budget Lindsey? WHERE?

    Where did the House Republicans or you. or Ayotte, or McCain support the State Departments request for MORE money to secure our facilities? The answer is: YOU DIDN`T.

    Spare us you "Ultimate Blame" claim. Now if you have the "stones" to reject the knee jerk "small government" GOP cure all for everything and the Obama Administration argues against you, THEN you can criticize. Did any journalist ask Graham the PRICE TAG for his perfect solution?

    April 25, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. Pam from Iowa

    I was sure it was only a matter of time before some ignoramus in the GOP would start attempting to blame Obama for this!
    Sorry Senator but no one is listening!!!

    April 25, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. WIMPY38

    When is Graham going to stop fooling himself and come out of the closet? That would be the only honest thing he did as a politician rather than grandstanding.

    April 25, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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