House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Sunday defended the FBI’s handling of deceased Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was interviewed by the agency in 2011.
“I don’t think they missed anything – you can’t ask them to do something with nothing,” Rogers, a former FBI agent, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think they were very prudent and very thorough, by my review. “
Tamerlan died in a shootout with police, but his younger brother and suspected accomplice Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested after an 18-hour manhunt.
Rogers noted that the FBI contact came before Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled overseas, apparently under an alias.
He said he hoped investigators would learn more about the elder brother and his Russia trip and suggested that Moscow had failed to cooperate when the FBI followed up.
“They had information from a foreign intelligence service that they were concerned about his possible radicalization. And so they went from there. The F.B.I. did their due diligence and did a very thorough job about trying to run that to ground. And then asks some more help from that intelligence service to try to get further clarification,” said Rogers. “And unfortunately, that intelligence service stopped cooperating. So what happens is that case gets closed down.”
Rogers said it was likely Tamerlan was radicalized during that six month stay.
“He, we believe, may have actually traveled on an alias to get back to his home country. In that seven months, six and a half months or so, becomes extremely important. So you know he had some radicalization before he left. You know that he didn't probably travel on his own name or some variation of his own name. And when he comes back, he has a renewed interest in that radicalization belief process,” said Rogers.
The elder Tsarnaev, who once said he dreamed of boxing for the United States in the Olympics, began posting radical material on his YouTube account upon his return from Russia, according to several reports.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), however, is questioning why the FBI did not more closely scrutinize Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he returned from Russia.
“I personally believe that this man received training when he was over there, and he radicalized from 2010 to the present,” McCaul said Sunday on CNN.
McCaul and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) are asking the FBI for more answers over their handling of the case.
Rogers also embraced federal authorities’ decision not to read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, saying the case is not in jeopardy.
Under a “public safety” exemption, the 19-year-old can be denied access to an attorney for a period while authorities determine whether any threat remains.
“We don’t know if there’s other devices,” Rogers said. “We don’t know if there’s other people, and I think Mirandizing him up front would be a horrible idea.”
Any information gleaned from Tsarnaev before he is read his rights would be deemed inadmissible in court during trial. But Rogers said he isn’t worried about a lack of evidence in the case, even if the suspect refuses to cooperate.
“I think I could make this case without a confession from this guy,” he said.
Tsarnaev was reportedly shot in the throat and has been unable to communicate.