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Rep. Meehan questions FBI follow-up on Boston suspect

“What kind of a process is in place that after an initial inquiry, if there are people that come to the attention of the FBI about concerns of terrorism?” Meehan asked on CNN’s “Starting Point." “What are the procedures to do appropriate follow-up and where are the limits to the extent that we want to have the government continue monitoring the actions of Americans?”

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Meehan said he hoped to find answers to these questions amid charges that the FBI failed to properly monitor one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in last week’s deadly bombing even after they had been alerted to him by Russian authorities. 

The FBI spoke to Tsarnaev in 2011 after he was flagged by Russian officials. Tsarnaev travelled to Chechnya and Dagestan, flashpoints for Islamist violence in Russia, for 6 months in 2012, a visit many have speculated radicalized him. Tsarnaev was not questioned again after that trip. The FBI, however, has said they asked Russian officials for more information and received no further help.

Reports on Sunday said Tsarnaev, who was killed in a shootout with police last Friday, posted a number of jihadist videos to his YouTube account after his return.

Meehan, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence last year held a hearing on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) monitoring of social media, questioning if the department was striking the right balance between security and privacy concerns.

On Monday, he said the Boston attacks had highlighted the need to ensure proper procedures were in place for the FBI to monitor possibly dangerous terror suspects.

“The real question that we held hearings on was the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security was out there monitoring what was email discussions that are taking place effectively in the public sector, because the information is there but what degree of privacy should people be entitled to. And I think this is going to be a question we consider as we move forward in light of what occurred here,” said Meehan.

“Once you have probable cause, so to speak, the FBI has an original concern that’s been generated, what are the procedures for following up on specific information that is put out in the public domain?” he asked.

“We can see now what was missed, but was there any procedure for the FBI to follow on the activities of somebody over the Internet after they’ve been effectively been cleared?”

The Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on Sunday called on the FBI to account for its handling of Tsarnaev and questioned if more could have been done to prevent the Boston bombings.

“If he was on the radar, and they let him go — if he was on the Russian's radar, why wasn't a flag put on him,” asked McCaul.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI agent, defended the agency on Sunday, calling their review “very thorough.”

“I don’t think they missed anything,” he said.

Tsarnaev’s younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested by police after a 19-hour manhunt and is expected to face charges in the Boston bombing.