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GOP senator: FBI probe of Tsarnaev found no 'red flags'

The FBI found no “red flags” about Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev when they investigated a tip from the Russian government in 2011, according to a Republican senator.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, defended the FBI’s probe and said agents did everything they could with the information that they were given.

“I’ve been around investigations all my life, I started as a prosecuting attorney, and I know shoddy work when I see it — this was not shoddy work,” Risch told CNN.

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The FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been criticized as missing warning signs that could have helped prevent the bombings. The Russian government notified federal investigators that Tsarnaev was a potential threat after the suspect spent six months visiting two Russian provinces before returning to the United States.

But Risch said the information that Russian intelligence provided to the FBI was “much more conclusory than helpful.”

“[The FBI] actually interviewed [Tsarnaev]; they interviewed neighbors; they interviewed relatives, and there were no red flags raised,” he said. “They were doing the best they could do with the information they had, but they uncovered absolutely no facts here that raised the matter to a level that this man should get 24-hour surveillance, or any of the other things that are available to the FBI to watch them.”

Tsarnaev, 26, died last week after a gun battle with police. He and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, are the only suspects in the attack on the Boston Marathon.

On Tuesday, the heads of the FBI and the DHS gave classified briefings to House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Lawmakers have been tight-lipped on what they learned in the hearings.