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Dave Ross

Background checking an idea

This file image from a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security shows the remains of a pressure cooker that the FBI says was part of one of the bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon. Our attempt to understand the Tsarnaevs may be missing the point because we're not up against an individual, but a viral idea. (AP Photo/FBI, File)

As we try to pin down what motivated the Boston bombing, we are now witnessing an extensive a public background check of the Tsarnaev brothers.

In fact, we’re getting the entire family history. Childhood photographs, the uncles, the mother, the aunt – I know more about their family history than my own.

There’s even an attempt to discover which specific radical videos they may have watched. Although, once we find out, what will we do? Give the Internet a thorough scrubbing?

Former FBI man and CBS Correspondent John Miller says our attempt to understand the Tsarnaevs may be missing the point because we’re not up against an individual, but a viral idea.

“Basically, the idea that it’s not Al Qaeda as much as it’s Al Qaeda-ism, and you have all these influences out there,” says Miller.

And as for the idea the FBI should have continued to watch Tamerlan, suspect #1, or worked more closely with the CIA, “When I worked at the FBI, when I worked as the director of national intelligence, stitching those databases together so that they would talk to each other, one of the things we concluded and we talk about this,” says Miller. “We have now looked at so many people, so many potential suspects, that someday, one of them is going to do something and we don’t know if it’s good news or bad news that we have them in the file. I mean, it shows that we were doing our job, but it also brings on this conversation that we should have done more.”

With 750,000 names on various watchlists, according to one count, even if you assigned every FBI employee to monitor them, they’d each have 21 people to track.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

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About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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