Is the IC Responsible for Failing to Prevent the Boston Marathon Bombings? Inspectors General Say “No”

Boston, Massachusetts A new Inspectors General (IGs) report was released yesterday on the Boston Marathon bombings that focuses on information handling and sharing by the U.S. intelligence community (IC) prior to the incident. The 168-page review itself is classified, but the IGs have publicly released the Unclassified Summary which can be found in the HSDL collection.

The review was conducted by the IGs for the Intelligence Community, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security in order to determine the answers to three main questions following the bombings:

  1. “The extent of the information available to the U.S. government concerning the relevant individuals and events preceding the Boston Marathon bombings;
  2. Whether the sharing of this information was complete, accurate, and in compliance with U.S. counterterrorism and information sharing, policies, regulations, and U.S. laws; and
  3. Whether there are weaknesses in protocols and procedures that impact the ability to detect potential threats to national security.”

To determine these answers, the IGs’ review includes a chronology of events as well as an investigation of additional information available to the U.S. government prior to the events. “As a result, the scope of this review included […] information that existed during that time and that the federal government reasonably could have been expected to have known before the bombings.” The review particularly focuses on levels of information handling and sharing within the CIA, FBI, DHS, and NCTC (National Counterterrorism Center).

Following its investigation, the IGs “found no basis to make broad recommendations for changes in information handling or sharing.” Though it faults no agency in particular for alleged mishandling of information, the review does make two general recommendations for improvement, which include better management of TECS [Treasury Enforcement Communication System] records and better sharing of threat information between the federal, state, and local levels. 

DHS also released today its own report on the bombings, “Boston One Year Later: DHS’s Lessons-Learned,” which is now available for online viewing.

For more reports and reviews on the Boston Marathon bombings, check out these recent HSDL blog posts:

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