Confusion over Boston bombing suspect's trip to Russia shows bureaucratic holes in government watch list

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 23, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: There's more controversy surfacing tonight over Tamerlan Tsarnaev's 2012 trip to Russia. How much did the FBI know? Here is what Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today.


JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The system pinged when he was leaving the United States. By the time he returned, all investigations -- the matter had been closed.


VAN SUSTEREN: But Senator Lindsey Graham saying the FBI claimed to know nothing -- yes, nothing -- about the trip. And then tonight, the FBI and Homeland Security briefing lawmakers.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz is on the House Homeland Security Committee. He joins us. Nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Can you clarify, or do you know whether or not he sort of pinged going out of the United States? There's some confusion between what Senator Lindsey Graham said and what the secretary says.

CHAFFETZ: Well, I don't know what the secretary means when she said "ping." What is clear to me from my past experience is that the United States of America has no viable entry-exit system. We are not able to track people as they leave and depart the country and when they come back in the country.

Sometimes, we can see them and have visibility when they're traveling via air, but as we're seeing on the southwest border, as we're seeing up in Canada, that's a real problem. And so when she says "ping," against what? That's the key question, against what?

VAN SUSTEREN: It must be that when he boarded his plane using his -- using the passport. It must be on some manifest. I mean, I would assume that it's -- there's some database at that point, I assume, because he wasn't -- because he didn't walk to Russia.

CHAFFETZ: Well, but again, as Senator Graham I think is aptly pointing out, this story has really changed over just a 48-hour period. And I don't think there's any clarity tonight as to what was, quote, unquote, "pinged" because obviously, something didn't work, right? Something didn't end up being deciphered along the way because this person evidently went to Russia for an extended period in time, and then how does that match up with what the Russians supposedly told us? My guess is that we don't get many communiques from the Russians saying, Hey, look out for this person. We got a concern.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I would assume that if Russia told us to look out for this guy and the FBI went to talk to him, and I mean, that's one sort of thing that fell through the cracks. But he then -- if he boards a plane and he pings and he lets us know that he's leaving the country, heading for Russia, I would think we would notify Russia, He's coming your way and that Russia would pick him on the other end -- not physically pick him up, but would follow him on the other end and know what he was doing for six months. That would make the most sense, if you were really concerned about this person.

CHAFFETZ: And that's what we still don't know. I mean, granted, this just happened literally just over a week ago. The authorities need time to continue to do their job. But this is the big -- one of the big key questions of which there -- we don't have any answers yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you expect that there'll be oversight hearings to find out what exactly the FBI did when they were dispatched to go out to talk to him the first time, to see whether or not there -- he really was something that missed? Because if they missed something here, of course, then there's the big risk that they're missing a lot of things a lot of places.

CHAFFETZ: Well, exactly. There are probably tens of thousands of people who kind of fall into this category. That's one of my concerns. I don't know how you define the parameters of that. But this so-called "watch list," what does that really mean?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know?

CHAFFETZ: What do they really with the watch list? I don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that you don't know what the watch list is? I mean, nobody...

CHAFFETZ: Well, we know what the watch list is, we just don't know exactly what they do with it and what would score somebody as being a higher threat as opposed to a lower threat. And then what other things -- when the secretary comes up with this word "ping," again, there's no definition to that. It's a new term, as far as I'm concerned, and she needs to help define what that means and what somebody actually does about it

VAN SUSTEREN: Any information of where these two got radicalized?

CHAFFETZ: Well, that's the other core question because to suggest that they just, you know, went to high school there in Massachusetts and decided to go surf some Web site and then came up with these ideas and carried out a bombing I think stretches the imagination.

So there's a lot more that was revealed and talked about in the classified briefing, which I can't go through, but a lot more that I think we need to learn about that. And who else may have fallen into this category because I think most people believe that it is more above and beyond just two individuals gone awry, you know, two brothers gone awry. The concern is that there are more people that have gone through this process that we should be paying a lot more attention to.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we don't -- that's the -- that's the peculiar thing about it. I mean, the FBI missing this one and having been tipped off by the Russians. I mean, maybe -- I mean, maybe I would have missed it, too, if I'd gotten sent out there. I don't know. But the FBI did a bang-up job after the bombing in making the arrest and making things safe. You know, I give them enormous credit for that. But the fact that this fell through the cracks is somewhat -- not somewhat, is alarming.

CHAFFETZ: And look, everybody's cheering the FBI on, the men and women who are doing these things. A lot of this is Homeland Security. A lot of this is the counterterrorism effort. It's not all the FBI's responsibility to do all this. We have a Homeland Security department with 250,000 people in it...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why weren't they sent out? I mean, why -- why was the FBI sent out and not Homeland?

CHAFFETZ: Again, when you start to go outside the United States, you start to reach into some things. There's a lot of crossover and there's a lot of good communication that goes on. But there still -- there's this worry that there is (ph) these stovepipes, and they don't communicate with each other and these things don't show up and raise the red flags so we get these people out of the country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you a quick question. A preliminary Benghazi report came out of the House tonight. The Democrats say it's unfair because it doesn't have a Democratic -- there is not a Democratic section, it's just a Republican report. You smile. Is that...

CHAFFETZ: Don't you just love it? Democrats are complaining that they didn't get to say something. They're not talking about the quality of the content in here, and they're trying to distract from the fact that Secretary Clinton herself signed off on a memo! There's a lot of information, 46 pages. It's an interim report. If you go to my -- my Twitter page, @jasoninthehouse, you can link to it. But this is a preliminary report. It's not the end, by any means.

VAN SUSTEREN: I assume that the Democrats have a budget or an ability to do a report, if they want...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... to respond to your report. So that -- there's nothing to prevent them from doing that.

CHAFFETZ: This is interim report to members of Congress that we issued internally between five different committees. It's just (INAUDIBLE) stairstep. So I don't know what the Democrats are complaining about. They should be -- they should be complaining that we haven't gotten to the truth sooner! I've never heard them make that case!

VAN SUSTEREN: So is the next step -- I mean, this was given to the speaker of the House. What's the next step?

CHAFFETZ: Well, the committees need to do some things. I think you'll see Chairman Issa, Trey Gowdy, others -- you'll see something in the coming days, maybe tomorrow -- hint, hint -- that you will see...


CHAFFETZ: Yes, tomorrow, you'll start to see some things as they start to play out.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I know that Senator Lindsey Graham wanted one single committee to do this, a select committee so there wasn't all the sort of different committees, you know, sort of piecemealing together. But anyway, Congressman, thank you, sir.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Greta.