An inquiry into whether U.S. intelligence agencies could have done more to help prevent the Boston Marathon bombing is just getting started. But America’s top spy is already convinced that the deadly April 15 attacks do not represent an intelligence failure.
As Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe first reported, the inspector general overseeing the 16 U.S. spy agencies will conduct a “broad review” of how the intelligence community handled whatever information it had about the bombings.
That review did not come at the behest of James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, the nominal boss of those spy agencies. Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Clapper, says it’s an independent initiative of the Intelligence Community Inspector General along with the internal watchdogs for the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
Yet before the inquiry has concluded, Clapper is satisfied — as he first said last week, before any review even got started — that the intelligence agencies didn’t drop the ball on Boston.
“Director Clapper believes that every agency involved in collecting and sharing information prior to the attack took all the appropriate steps,” Turner emailed Danger Room. “He also believes that it is prudent an appropriate for there to be an independent review of those steps to ensure that nothing was missed.”
Clapper’s remarks carry the impression that there’s little the factual inquiry can tell him that will change his mind. Inspectors general are supposed to be independent; rarely do the heads of their agency publicly announce conclusions about the subjects of ongoing inquiries.
The review does not have a broad mandate. “It is limited to a review of the handling of information related to the suspects prior to the attack,” Turner said, adding that it is “not an investigation.”