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Rep. Keating to join mission to Russia

A congressional delegation, which includes Representative William R. Keating, will travel to Russia next week.AP/File

WASHINGTON — A congressional delegation is planning to travel to Russia next week to meet with government and counter-terrorism officials to discuss the ongoing investigations into the Boston Marathon bombings.

The delegation, which includes Representative William R. Keating, a Bourne Democrat, is planning to examine some of the apparent gaps in intelligence sharing between the United States and Russia. The Russians had warned the United States in 2011 that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a potential extremist.

The FBI interviewed Tsarnaev and his family but found that he was not a threat; the Russians did not respond to FBI requests for more information.


“If there was a distrust, or lack of cooperation because of that distrust, between the Russian intelligence and the FBI, then that needs to be fixed and we will be talking about that,” Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who is leading the delegation, told ABC News, which first reported details of the trip.

“Our goal is to use Boston as an example, if indeed there was something more, that should’ve been done that wasn’t because of a bad attitude,” Rohrabacher added.

A spokeswoman for Rohrabacher confirmed details about the trip and said the goal was to both investigate the Boston bombings and improve the relationship with Russia. One stop will be to Star City, to discuss US-Russian cooperation in space programs.

The congressional delegation plans to meet with political and security officials in Russia. They may also visit Dagestan, the restive region that is home to militant Chechen groups where Tsarnaev traveled in 2011.

In addition to Rohrabacher and Keating, the others planning to go on the trip include: Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota; Steve King, Republican of Iowa; Paul Cook, Republican of California; and, Stephen Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee.

The Globe reported earlier this month that Keating was considering a trip to Russia to further investigate, following an initial fact-finding trip by two House staff members.


Keating said the staff members discovered — through unofficial, nongovernment sources — that Tamerlan Tsarnaev first showed up on the radar of the Russian security officials when they started questioning William Plotnikov, a Canadian boxer who was linked with extremist groups in Russia.

The Russians then discovered that Tsarnaev was active on a jihadist website and listed his home in the United States. That led to the initial tip from the Russians, who asked the FBI for more information about Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev later traveled to Dagestan and met with both Plotnikov and another extremist, Mansur Mukhamed Nidal, according to the findings from the congressional staff members.

Plotnikov and Nidal were later killed in separate skirmishes with the Russians. Tsarnaev left Russia shortly after Plotnikov’s death.

Nine months later, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, allegedly planted and detonated two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.


Energy chief to postpone decisions on gas exports

WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Tuesday that he will delay final decisions on about 20 applications to export liquefied natural gas until he reviews studies by the Energy Department and others on what effect the exports would have on domestic natural gas supplies and prices.

Moniz, who was sworn in Tuesday as the nation’s new energy chief, said he promised during his confirmation hearing that he would ‘‘review what’s out there’’ before acting on proposals to export natural gas. Among the things Moniz said he wants to review is whether the data in the studies are outdated.


A study commissioned by the Energy Department concluded last year that exporting natural gas would benefit the US economy even if it led to higher domestic prices.

Senate Energy Committee chairman Ronald L. Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and other critics have said the study was flawed and relied on old data and unrealistic market assumptions.

Moniz, speaking to reporters after a brief speech to a forum on global energy efficiency, said he wants to complete his review as quickly as possible.

Many US energy companies are hoping to take advantage of an ongoing natural gas boom by exporting liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to Europe and Asia, where prices are far higher. About 20 applications to export LNG to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the United States are pending before the Energy Department.

Business groups support LNG exports as a way to create thousands of jobs and spur more US production.

Consumer advocates and some manufacturers that use natural gas as a raw material or fuel oppose exports, saying they could drive up domestic prices and increase manufacturing costs. Many environmental groups also oppose LNG exports because of fears that increased drilling could lead to environmental problems.