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The Boston Globe


juliette kayyem

Is ‘stove-piping’ to blame for lack of scrutiny of Tsarnaevs?

By weekend’s end, the fact that the Tsarnaev brothers were able to plan and execute their Boston Marathon attack, despite the FBI’s awareness of Russia’s concerns about their radicalization, was being blamed on intelligence failures and the proverbial “stove-piping.” Stove-piping is the term to describe, as the 9/11 Commission did in their review of the 2001 terrorist attacks, how intelligence and law enforcement agencies hold onto their turf by holding onto good information. Valid intelligence is therefore kept within a “silo” of a particular agency. The assumption is that if it had been shared with other “siloing” agencies, then the pieces would have fallen into place and an attack would have been avoided.

That is a theory and one that is gaining traction. From my experience, another theory is possible and may explain why Tamerlan Tsarnaev never was upgraded, so to speak, from the rather large TIDE intelligence database (the “E” in TIDE stands for “environment,” giving a sense of how it really is more about atmospherics and potential threats than real information) to the more exclusive ones, which would have guaranteed greater scrutiny of the Tsarnaevs.

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