Boston police commission: Justice terrorism task force needs to share information more quickly

Published July 10, 2013

| Associated Press

The Justice Department's terrorism task force needs to share threat information more quickly with local law enforcement, Boston's police commissioner told lawmakers reviewing the Boston Marathon bombing.

"There is a gap with information sharing at a higher level while there are still opportunities to intervene in the planning of these terrorist event," Edward F. Davis III testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee complained at a separate hearing that the FBI, the lead investigative agency in the April 15 bombing, had refused to attend.

"It is this committee's responsibility find out how we did not see it coming," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. "We are going to find out what happened, what went wrong, and how to fix it."

Davis said the Justice Department's Joint Terrorism Task Force must be required to immediately share terrorism information that poses a threat to U.S. cities. Before the Boston Marathon bombings, he said, there had been a "gap" in information sharing that must be closed to prevent future acts of domestic terrorism.

Davis said that in the aftermath of the bombing, the FBI improved information sharing but that more needs to be done. He also said cellphone service was overloaded immediately after the attack.

Phones "were rendered completely useless as a means of communication at the scene," he said, adding that "satellite phone technology is not effective for indoor command posts and communication across multiple bodies."

Davis said law enforcement needs "a secure bandwidth in a public safety spectrum dedicated exclusively to public safety use now, as it is the only way to communicate during an event of this magnitude."

The hearings took place as the sole surviving suspect was set to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was to appear Wednesday in federal court in Boston, charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the bombings that killed three and wounded more than 260.

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