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Boehner vows to ‘get to the bottom’ of what US knew before bombings

House SpeakerJohn Boehner spoke at news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA

House SpeakerJohn Boehner spoke at news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON – House Speaker John Boehner this morning said he was concerned that federal agencies hadn’t learned their lessons from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and he vowed to hold agency heads responsible if they didn’t do enough to stop the Boston bombings.

The response in Washington is increasingly focused on potential intelligence failures, and a lack of sharing information among territorial federal agencies – a problem that was supposed to be fixed after the attacks nearly 12 years ago.

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“I have concerns about what agencies knew what -- and the fact that it wasn’t shared,” Boehner said at a press conference. “You know if the information is good enough for one agency of the government, why shouldn’t it be appropriate for other agencies of the government? We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

He said that House committees “in the coming days and weeks” would investigate whether there was adequate sharing of information gathered about the brothers who allegedly bombed the Boston Marathon.

Russian authorities had alerted the US government “multiple” times over their concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother in the Boston bombings, but the FBI determined he did not pose a threat after an interview with Tsarnaev in 2011. Senators on Tuesday said an intelligence briefing revealed failures among federal agencies to share information about Tsarnaev and his travel to Russia in 2012, raising questions about whether the FBI should have done more.

Boehner also said he had concerns that there have been at least five cases where federal agencies failed to stop terrorist attacks before they were launched. Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, has listed several such cases, including shootings in Little Rock, Ark., and Fort Hood, Texas.

“It raises some serious questions,” Boehner said this morning. “I don’t want to get into the business of indicting agencies or agency heads until we have all the facts. And there may be facts to support each of these five cases.”

“I think we want to understand exactly what happened, and what didn’t happen, and hold those responsible if in fact there were opportunities to stop these people when we didn’t do it,” he added.

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.
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