Meet the Press   |  April 21, 2013

1: Deval Patrick, national security experts give latest update on Boston bombing

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, NBC correspondent Pete Williams, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and a roundtable of national security experts visit Meet the Press to discuss the latest developments in the Boston marathon bombing investigation.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this sunday a special edition of "meet the press." after the terror in boston , a violent manhunt, now the way forward and the broader question about securing america . [ cheers and applause ]

>>> the nightmare ends for the boston area , but the president says there is much more to learn.

>> why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities, resort to such violence? how did they plan and carry out these attacks? and did they receive any help? the families of those killed deserve answers.

>> did the tsarnaev brothers have ties to foreign terror groups? how was their past to violence missed especially since the fbi tracked and interviewed the older brother two years ago? this morning the latest on the investigation and the way forward . joining us massachusetts governor deval patrick , nbc 's justice correspondent pete williams , chairman of the house intelligence committee mike rogers of michigan, former homeland security secretary michael chertoff , former director of the national counterterrorism center michael l liter. then, how the marathon bombings changed things after such painful loss.

>> anybody that knew her loved her.

>> there were powerful signs of resilience. alongside a renewed sense of vulnerability as a manhunt virtually shut down a major american city. we hear from assistant senate majority leader dick durbin of illinois, and our special roundtable.

>>> and good sunday morning. what a week it has been. developments are still moving very quickly in the boston terror story. we want to go for the very latest this morning to the governor of massachusetts , deval patrick , who is with us this morning from boston . it's good to see you and congratulations on the end of a very difficult week.

>> well, i accept your congratulations on behalf of the extraordinary team of law enforcement folks who have done this the right way, by building from facts up to a theory rather than from a theory out.

>> governor, the " boston globe " says it all had had this morning for boston . edging toward not normal, but there is still a lot of concern. based on what you know, has the threat pass ed?

>> i think we think so. there are a lot of leads that law enforcement is still pursuing, the fbi and the atf, the state police and local police as well. there are a lot of questions that all of us have and that law enforcement have yet to answer for us including questions direct directly to the suspect, but there isn't any basis for concern about another imminent threat .

>> let me ask you some particulars about the surviving suspect, dzhokhar tsarnaev, who is now in the hospital. appare apparently he has a wound to the throat. did he try to commit suicide ?

>> i don't know the answer to that.

>> do you know when doctors are saying he might actually be able to communicate? is there a real question about whether he'll be able to speak?

>> i don't know those answers, david . i do know that he is in serious condition, but he's stable. and there are investigators prepared to interview him when he's able to be interviewed.

>> the question about him coming onto the radar of the fbi two years ago, he was interviewed, he was tracked at the request of the russians, according to federal officials. that's questions now, for you and authorities in massachusetts, have to raise some concerns whether something was missed here.

>> well, sure. there's a whole process here, and i think it was his brother, by the way, who was questioned by the fbi --

>> yes, forgive me, correct.

>> a whole host of questions, david , that you have, that i have, more to the point that the fbi the a it tf and other law enforcement agencies will pursue. it's important for us to give them the space to do this meth methodically because, frankly, it's been that approach, giving them that space so that they can build the case from facts up rather than start from broad theories and try to fill in the blanks that has gotten us as far as we've come as quickly as we've come. so i want to continue to respect that approach.

>> i want to ask you one thing about how this developed as, in this case, dzhokhar, the younger brother , the surviving suspect, emerged as a real suspect. some of his reactions to the bombing you have indicated kind of cryptically was revealing to you. can you elaborate on that?

>> well, right after the monday event, he was back on the campus of the university of massachusetts in dartmouth down in the south coast region. there is evidence of some, frankly, normal student behavior in those ensuing days which, when you consider the enormity of what he was responsible for, certain certainly, you know, raises a lot of questions in my mind and, as i say, more 30 the point of law in the minds of law enforcement as well. those are the kinds of leads that still have to be pursued and run to ground.

>> is there anything on the videotape that maybe the public hasn't seen about his reaction that was particularly telling that moved the investigation along?

>> well, the videotape is not something i've seen. it's been described to me in my briefing, but it does seem to be pretty clear that this suspect took the backpack off, put it down, did not react when the first explosion went off, and then moved away from the backpack in time for the second explosion. so pretty clear about his involvement and pretty chilling, frankly, as it was described to me.

>> governor, as a former constituent department official, do you have a view of whether he should be part of the criminal justice system , as someone who is tried in court, or should he be treated as a terrorist, as an enemy combatant ? that debate is only beginning now here in washington.

>> well, that's the attorney general's call, and i have to respect it. he is an american citizen . he is responsible for a crime here in america . i trust the attorney general to make that call, to make it wisely. i will say that from my experience in the constituent department nearly 20 years ago now, one of of the things that was most striking and most gratifying about the experience these last few days is how well coordinated the law enforcement agencies were. the leadership of the fbi and the atf through the joint terrorism task force , the collaboration of the state police , the transit police at the state level, and boston pd and other local law enforcement was really seamless, and that collaboration and cooperation, i think, had a lot to do with how effective this investigation has been to this point.

>> governor patrick, before i let you go, i know it's been difficult to find any time to exhale and reflect on this. how has this changed things for america in terms of assessing the threat of terrorism, an era of new normal that we face as a result of this?

>> well, i think it's really important, david , that civic is rituals like the marathon, other large civic gatherings, go on. that we not surrender our occasions, public occasions, to terrorists. and we can have vigilance without fear. there are some lessons we're going to have to learn and have learned painfully through this last experience that will have to be applied to future marathons, but there will be future marathons and i think they will be bigger and better than of. and i think the other thing that has been so affirming is how beautifully people have turned to each other rather than on each other, and so many acts of kindness and grace shown to victims and to others in the course of this has been just a really beautiful thing to behold.

>> governor patrick, a lot to go through and preside over this week. i thank you for your time this morning.

>> thank you, david .

>>> joining me now nbc news justice correspondent, the man who has been leading our coverage all weeklong, pete williams , former director of the national counterterrorism center and now an nbc national security analyst, michael leiter , a former fbi agent, mike rogers , former secretary of homeland security under president bush , michael chertoff . and in just a few minutes we'll be joined by the assistant majority leader dick durbin , but i want to begin here with pete and mike liter on the latest in terms of what we're tracking. the big question at this moment is was there a foreign connection to terrorism? what do we know?

>> well, we don't know the answer to that question. the big gap here is what was the older brother doing in russia for six months last year? he leaves in january, arrives in july, and the russians have told the fbi that they were a little worried about him. but what was he doing during all that time in russia ? his father says he was visiting him, that he went to see his family, went to renew his russian passport while he was awaiting american citizenship . he was here as a lawful resident. did he -- the thing i think that's the biggest question for investigators now is, "a," why did he turn this way? but, "b," where did he get his expertise in explosives? where did he practice them? it seems really unlikely these two bombs successfully were detonated without some practice runs. where did he learn to do that? where did he practice? those are the big questions .

>> we look at the pictures of the suspects and biographical information we have, dzhokhar, who is the surviving suspect here, dzhokhar tsarnaev, is in hospital. tamerlan born in kyrgystan, comes in 2002 . he becomes a u.s. citizen , 9/11/ 2012 . he was a wrestler, enrolled at the university of massachusetts -dartmouth. so many friends talking so positively about him. tamerlan , his older brother, does that travel . he comes later than his younger brother . he was mayrried, had a 3-year-old daughter. had a domestic violence incident. he dropped out of community colle college. he was a competitive boxer. people speaking very positively about him. but, chairman mike rogers , now we have more information about some evidence of him sort of dropping out of society, as it were, information after he comes back from foreign travel , postings on his youtube account and other social media indicating that he had exposure to jihadist elements whether that's connect canned to chechnya and the struggles there or otherwise. what do you know this morning and what do you want to know?

>> it's important to understand why, in fact, the fbi interviewed him in the first place. so they had information from a foreign intelligence service that they were concerned about his possible radicalization. and so they went from there, the fbi did their due diligence , did a very thorough job about trying to run that to ground. and then asked for more help from that intelligence service to get further clarification and, unfortunately, that intelligence service stopped cooperating. so what happens is that case gets closed down. he, we believe, may have actually traveled on an alias to get back to his home country . and that six and a half months or so becomes extremely important. so you know he had some radicalization before he left. you know that he didn't probably travel on his own name or some variation of his own name. and when he comes back, he has a renewed interest in that radicalization belief process, so he's very devout. we know he was very religious, devout, and active in the boston islamic so ciety and a devout attender of prayers and mosque on fridays. so you see something happening, and you can see it happening after that travel . and so that six and a half months becomes incredibly important. and it would lead one to believe that's probably where he got that final radicalization to push him to commit acts of violence and where he may have received training on what we ultima ultimately saw last monday.

>> as i get michael leiter and michael chertoff into this, he talked about a change that he noticed in tamerlan once he returned from that travel . let me play a portion of that.

>> i saw what happened the last time i spoke with tamerlan in 2009 , and i was shocked when i heard his words, his phrases. every other word he starts sticking in words of devotion. it wasn't devotion. it was something, as it's being called, radicalized.

>> important to you, mike leiter ?

>> very important. people think this is an atypical story of people who have lived here for a long time become radicalized and it regrettably isn't. in the times square bombing we had a case where someone had lived here for 13 years, had an mba, had worked for an american company , and then tried it bomb times square . the challenge here, david , there are lts and lots of people who go through these crises and become more radicalized but very, very few of them actually become mobilized and become terrorists and that's an incredibly hard piece for the fbi and others.

>> and you're speaking, mike chertoff , did the fbi miss something? they were on him, tamerlan , that is. they talked to him. they tracked his digital footprint. chairman rogers talking about him then traveling on an ilyas, which i had not heard before. the red flag is up and then they closed the books on him. after they took a look at him, they determined there's no threat here.

>> i think that is going to be a big question, david , and i go further than that and say if they had an indication of interest by a foreign service and a connection to an overseas group in chechnya or in the north caucasus , you would want our foreign capabilities focused on hip. they're going to make sure a ball wasn't dropped either domestically or overseas.

>> mike leiter , concerned about that?

>> it's not the clear to me that the report to the fbi said he was associated with a terrorist group . he might have been radicalized but that's very different and might raise a -- if not yellow flag but i don't think a red flag to the fbi .

>> chairman rogers, you've been an fbi agent. you are now chair of the intelligence committee . was something missed here?

>> well, we looked at and talked about what exactly the fbi did. and it's important to note that case was closed prior to his travel . so i don't think they missed anything. if you look at their digital footprint, they went through all the database checks and they did, and you did the thorough int interviews that you would expect them to do in a case like this, they did, and at some point they asked is there more clarifying information and never received that clarifying information. at some point they have nothing. and so you can't ask them to do something with nothing. they prudently said, well, there's nothing to see here at this point. now, remember, he then left and traveled and came back. now that's a different place. they had no further information indicating that until, of course, after the event itself. that's important to do, but i think they were very prudent and very thorough by my review of what happened prior to his travel .

>> pete williams , it's important to underscore what was underscored to me by intelligence officials, federal officials the last couple of days, talking about what they call an american person. the younger brother is a citizen. the older brother was a legal citizen. which leads to this other point which is dzhokhar, now hospitalized, survived. he's an american citizen . natural i naturalized 9/11 of last year. should he be given miranda rights ? should he be treated as an enemy combatant ? that debate has started. give me the facts, first, what they'll do.

>> this administration has made a policy decision here. first, that's number one. secondly, he cannot be tried as an enemy combatant in a military tribunal because that law was changed by the national defense authorization act of 2012 that says you can't do that to an american citizen . what some advocates, republicans, are saying such as lindsey graham are -- we understand, they say, we understand he's going to be tried in civilian court but start the questioning -- treat him as an enemy combatant under the law of war . question him by intelligence people. get all the intel you can. then turn him over to the civil civilian authorities. that's what they advocate. that's not going to happen, the administration has decided. he'll be questioned first by this special group set up in the last couple of years in terror cases called the high value detainee interrogation group , fbi cia, dod. they don't have a long time to do that, probably no more than a day or so. then he'll be begin his miranda warning and we'll see if he continues to talk. in other terrorism cases, surprisingly, these people do keep talking .

>> mike rogers , chairman, do you have a view how he should be treated in the criminal justice system ?

>> he's a citizen of the united states . i think that brings all of those protections of the u.s. constitution under the public safety exception, however, i do believe that the fbi has a period of time to try to determine what threats are there today. we don't know if there are other devices, if there's other people, and mirandaizing him up front, that's not going to happen. i had good conversations with the fbi . they are going to do their due diligence on the public safety portion. here is where the problem is. they're getting pressure from outside groups to actually do the mirandizing. they can do an intelligence based investigation leading up. remember, mirandiz iing is making sure any of that information they get prior to that mirandizing that the subject might give them can't be used in court. i think i could make this case without a confession from this guy. there is a period of time we don't need his confession up front. we need the information he has to make sure america is safe. if we let the fbi do that the way i think they want to do it, that would be the right solution here and the right -- it would be prudent for the safety of bostonians and around the rest of the country. there's a lot we need to understand about if this was a lone wolf sent back or were there others sent back? had that much we just don't know yet.

>> can i pull this conversation out a little bit to talk about, as i framed at the beginning, did this change something? does it change how we think about securing america ? mike chertoff , former secretary of homeland security , we go through the realities. i talked to you over the years. this is something that people in your line of work have been expecting for a long time after 9/11 and look at what our recent history shows us. we prepared this graphically about plots that have not succeeded or somehow been thwarted. you go back to the so-called shoe bomber in december of 2001 , richard reid . and then you had planning to attack subways back in september of '09. you have the christmas day bomber, so-called, tries to blow up a flight but he wasn't able to light the bomb. then you have a successful plot by shahzad in times square except the bomb doesn't go off. obviously it was not successful. we know from authorities in new york they helped to foil 16 plots against this city. the face of it terror has changed in some ways and this attack in boston represents that.

>> well, i think what we said for years we knew as we elevated our security at the airports and the obvious major high consequence targets, there would be a move towards what we call softer targets, targets that are harder to protect, maybe fewer people but where you can still kill and maim a lot of people. now we see a lot of efforts. we know al qaeda and similar i had logic groups try to find westerners who are capable of moving in our society without being detected. it was only a matter of tame a plot like this would be successful. i don't think it calls for a radical change in our strategy. i think we built a strategy anticipating this. resilience is a big part of this and we saw that work very well in boston . there will be, i think and i hope, a review of everything that's gone on to see whether, in fact, there was something that we should have done differently. but i don't think, again, it's a fundamental shift in strategy.

>> i want to bring in senator dick durbin from illinois. he joins us this morning. senator, as you think about the political impact of this, the impact of policy and debate on securing the country, the minority leader of the senate, mitch mcconnell , said the other day that we have, because of the work of our military and our law enfo enforcement officials, fallen into a place of complacency. do you agree?

>> not at all. not at all. listen, i spoke to the fbi director yesterday, bob mueller. and he talked about the extraordinary efforts by our intelligence agencies and law enforcement in the capture of these two individuals. think about it. less than a week ago this tragedy occurred and how quick ly they mobilize and worked effectively to find these two people. and let me also add this. i understand those of us in political laf should comment. that's our responsibility on policy questions, larger policy questions. when it comes down to the basic decisions how to go forward it to investigate this case and prepare it for trial, remember this, since 9/11 we have had hundreds, literally hundreds of terrorism cases successfully prosecuted through our court system . a handful, six cases, have gone through military commissions . so i can understand where president bush and president obama have given to the department of justice the authority to move forward with the type of process that we have going on today.

>> do you have questions about the fbi 's tracking of the older suspect here who is now dead and whether something was missed?

>> of course i do. and i think we should is ask those questions. that's our responsibility. i listened to mike rogers and i thought it he laid it out as a former fbi agent himself what we were faced with when we were asked these hard questions. we have to make sure as well, david , we give to the intelligence and law enforcement agencies , federal, state, and local, the resources they need to keep america safe. we live in a dangerous world. we live, also, in a free and open society we value very much. forward to keep americans safe at the marathon, at every other public event, we need to invest the resources that are necessary for law enforcement .

>> is that a call, in fact, for re-examination of whether additional resources are needed to look at home grown terror and the potential for smaller attacks that can only be deterred by the strength of law enforcement and engaged citizenry?

>> it is. but let me add one other element. let me bring it up to date with the agenda of the senate. our return tomorrow for the senate judiciary committee 's second hearing on the new immigration reform bill. let me put it in context. there are four specific provisions in this immigration reform bill that will make america safer. we are going to have stronger border with mexico. we are going to have 11 million people come forward and have an opportunity to register with our government out of the shadows. we are going to have verification of employment in the work place. and we're finally going to have a system where we can track visa holders who visit the united states to make sure that they leave when they're supposed to. so this is part of the ongoing conversation about a safer america and the immigration reform bill moves us closer.

>> do you fear an impact similar to 9/11 that derailed reform. you heard senator grassley talk about loopholes in the immigration system, leniencies of student visas. are there going to be concerns here related to the boston attack that you think impacts the immigration debate ?

>> i'll just put it on the line . i've been involved with the eight senators who have put this bill together, democrats and republicans. the worst thing we can do is nothing. if we do nothing, leaving 11 million people in the shadows, are not making our border safer, not having the information that comes from employment and these visa holders, we will be less safe in america . immigration reform will make us safer. and i hope that those who are critical of it will just come forward and say what their idea is. we've come up with a sound plan to keep this kcountry safe.

>> and your response to senator graham and mccain and ayotte and others who say treat him as an enemy combatant , i want to nail you down on that point, you oppose that?

>> you bet. well, let the me just tell you, history tells us that we're doing the right thing hundreds -- literally hundreds of terrorists, those accused of it terrorism, have been successfully prosecuted and imprisoned in the united states using the same process that's being used in this case in boston . the handful, liz cheney and others, who are calling for military commissions , have to explain to us why since 9/11 only six times have we use d military commissions . i think we are approaching this in the right way following the law as we should. we are gathering the evidence, and i think at the end, the right decision is being made to pursue this.

>> michael chertoff , chairman mike rogers , thank you, mike leiter , and pete williams for all of your reporting this week, what you do better than anybody else. we appreciate it and appreciate you being here this morning. up next, as we get to know more about the suspects and some of the motivations behind the bombings this week, is there now a new sense of vulnerability to the country? a special discussion is coming up. joining me nbc 's tom brokaw , peggy noonan , and bloomberg news jeffrey goldberg also of "the atlantic" magazine. an emotional week for boston and for the country as we were all on high alert and as we search for meaning in it all, we'll get the first draft of history through the eyes of the one and only doris kearns goodwin , herself a bostonian. revolutionizing an industry