By Justin Sink - 04/30/13 05:58 PM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that Congress should appoint a joint select committee to investigate the government's handling of intelligence regarding the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
Graham has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the bombing, suggesting that intelligence and law enforcement agencies did not properly coordinate a response after Russian intelligence tipped off American officials that bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev could have radical ties. Last week, Graham told CNN that the "ultimate blame, I think, is with the administration."
During a press conference Tuesday, President Obama dismissed Graham's criticisms, pointing to the rapid response to the marathon attacks.
"Mr. Graham is not right on this issue, although it may have generated some headlines," he said.
"I think that what we saw in Boston was state; local; federal officials; every agency, rallying around a city that had been attacked, identifying the perpetrators just hours after the scene had been examined," he said. "We now have one individual deceased, one in custody. Charges have been brought."
The president went on to say that initial indications were that federal agencies had properly vetted Tsarnaev.
"What I can say is, is that based on what I've seen so far, the FBI performed its duties; Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing," he continued.
Obama also said he was appointing his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to conduct a review of the handling of the Tsarnaev intelligence.
Graham told CNN he was "glad" that the administration was "going to do an investigation," but suggested Congress also had a role to play. He also reiterated his call for a joint select committee to investigate last year's attack on the American installation in Benghazi.
"But Congress, quite frankly, has been less than strong when it comes to investigating Benghazi and Boston," Graham said. "And I hope we will do our own independent investigation."
The effort to appoint a joint select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack has gained steam in recent weeks, with around 120 lawmakers signing on to a resolution written by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) calling to establish the committee. But so far, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has balked at the idea.
Graham also said he disagreed with Obama's suggestion he was wrong about how the nation's intelligence system had functioned.
"With all due respect to the president, we've had eight Americans killed in the last seven months by radical Islamists — four in Benghazi, four in Boston," Graham said. "And I think our systems are degrading, and I stand by that statement."