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The security alert that was missed on Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Posted at 7:31 PM, Apr 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-23 19:31:22-04

An exchange Tuesday in a hearing on Capitol Hill indicates some of the insights investigators are pursuing regarding a trip Tamerlan Tsarnaev took to Russia last year, where he could have possibly encountered Islamic insurgents.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, “Was your department aware of his travels to Russia?  And if you weren’t – the reason.”

Napolitano responded, “The travel of 2012 that you are referring to… yes, the system pinged when he was leaving the United States.  By the time he returned, all investigations had been — the matter had been closed.”

Grassley: “Is it true his identity document did not match?  Why did TSA miss the discrepancy?”

Napolitano:  “There was a missed match there.  By the way, the bill will help with this because it requires that passports be electronically readable as opposed to having to be manually input.  It really does a good job of  getting human error, to the extent that it exists, out of the process.  But even with the misspelling in our current system there are redundancies and so the system did ping when he was leaving the United States.”

She admitted the error, but did not fully account for how it may have allowed a suspected terrorist to not be detained.  The investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia last year continues.