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Keating wants FBI to offer answers on bombings

WASHINGTON — Representative William R. Keating on Wednesday called on the new FBI director to “answer pressing questions” about the investigation into the Boston marathon attacks, renewing his call for the bureau to be more forthcoming about what it knew of the alleged bombers and when.

In a detailed letter to James Comey, the Bourne Democrat and member of the Homeland Security Committee called on the FBI to share all it knows about Russian warnings about the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev; clarify what intelligence may not have been adequately shared soon enough with law enforcement officials in Boston; and any loopholes that have been identified in the multiple federal databases of potential terrorist suspects to which Tsarnaev’s name had been added prior to the attacks.

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“It has been three and a half months since the terror attack in Boston, and the FBI has yet to answer the pressing questions that would help law enforcement and legislators better prepare against threats in the future,” Keating wrote.

The FBI has said publicly that it does not want to share more information while the court case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is pending, saying it could jeopardize the prosecution. Citing his experience as a district attorney, Keating also insisted the FBI’s claims in recent weeks that it cannot be more forthcoming could jeopardize the trial of suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is unconvincing

“As a former District Attorney, I understand the sensitivities surrounding an ongoing investigation; however, none of the questions I have would compromise the integrity of the investigation into the bombings,” Keating said. “I’m not looking to place blame. What I am looking to do is identify our security shortcomings and change them. Without forthright information from the FBI, we are prevented from taking the critical steps needed to protect the American public.”

The three-page letter places particular emphasis on what information may or may not have been shared with Massachusetts authorities in the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force after Tamerlan Tsarnaev was flagged by the Russians as a possible militant radical more than two years before the deadly April 15 bombings in Copley Square.

“Would you please explain why information about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was not shared with the local police department in Boston?” Keating asked Comey. “Further, would you detail current protocol in regard to information-sharing between officers on the JTTF and their Department Heads?”

Keating is also seeking more information about Ibragim Todashev, an associate of the elder Tsarnaev who was shot to death during questioning by FBI agents in Orlando, Florida, and who was also flagged by Russian intelligence.

Bryan Bender can be reached at bender@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBender
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