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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript - Boston Bombing Investigation

Interview

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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BLITZER: One week after the Boston marathon bombings, the surviving suspect is charged by federal authorities in his hospital bed with fatal use of a weapon of mass destruction. Joining us now is congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland. He's the senior Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. I know you've been well briefed on what's going on.

Is it your sense right now that these two brothers, one of whom is now dead, were in fact linked to some sort of terrorist group?

REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: At this time, Wolf, we have no indication. Of course, that's one of the big issues. We have our intelligence committee right now, both internationally and internally, getting any information that we can to find out what the motive was for this terrible crime to occur.

BLITZER: The Boston police commissioner, Ed Davis, says that these two suspects may have been planning more attacks down the road. What can you tell us about that?

RUPPERSBERGER: I don't think we have any information to that effect other than they did have the type of ammunition that was needed and their second attack when they killed the police officer and they got into the gun battle. What we're really looking at right now is bomber number one, the older brother who's no longer with us anymore, when he went to Russia, did things change? Did he become radicalized?

When he came back, it looked like the pattern of life with respect to his brother changed. He wasn't getting good grades anymore. But we have to find this out, and we've got a lot of people working on getting that information, checking all of their acquaintances, checking more with Russia to find out exactly what happened when he went to Russia and came back.

But we want to see whether they were just the two of them, what caused this, or was this a conspiracy. And that's where our focus is right now.

BLITZER: I want to play for you what Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, said after the White House announced earlier in the day that the surviving suspect, the 19-year-old, would not be questioned as an enemy combatant. Listen to this.

RUPPERSBERGER: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm asking this administration to leave on the table the option, if the evidence warrants, to designate this individual as an enemy combatant. What do we know? We know that these two individuals embrace radical Islamic thought, that there's ample evidence this was an attack inspired by radical ideology. They were not trying to rob a bank in Boston.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. What do you think about that, congressman?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, first thing, I respect the senator's point of view, but I disagree. Number one, you have to look at the legal aspect of this. When that provision that you don't have to give Miranda rights is used, that -- you have to show a connection to al Qaeda. In this situation, we, at this point, have no connection to al Qaeda whatsoever.

So the other issue is this is an American citizen. And when you have an American citizen, you have rights pursuant to our constitution. And, at this point, this event occurred in Boston, and they were indicted by the courts. And let's talk about the issue. And I think you have to take each case as it occurs. I think we've had about maybe a handful of cases tried in military court. I think one was thrown out, another one I think the person went back to Yemen.

We've had over a thousand terror arrests and terror convictions that were obtained in civil courts, and most of those people are in jail. The underwear bomber, the person who attempted the bombing in Times Square. So, the people in the federal courts, they know the system, they do well. The prosecutions are close to 100 percent if not 100%.

But each case, you have to look at differently because the whole purpose is to get information before Miranda rights, number one, and find out if there are any other terrorists out there that are trying to attack our country.

So, at this point, it's a moot issue anyhow because the charges have been made against the bomber number two, and they're moving ahead with a federal prosecution in Massachusetts.

BLITZER: One final question, congressman. Is Russia fully cooperating with the U.S. in this investigation?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, my concern with Russia, there's still a lot of people in Russia that have issues with the cold war. But they did make a request for us to check out bomber number one, and that was done. And now, we're going to make sure that whatever was done in that investigation, I know that chairman rogers in the intelligence committee, we've set a hearing with this week with the FBI and I think the Senate Intelligence Committee has also done that.

So, we'll find out more. But bring it into perspective. There are over a thousand types of these requests from other countries every year. So, we looked at it. We're going to ask the questions, what happened, what was the information, did we need to go any further, because the most important thing, we want to make sure that we protect again. You know, we're very concerned about the lone wolf, not this lone wolf doesn't mean one.

It means a couple of people under the radar where we don't have the ability to get the intelligence because nobody's talking or nobody's giving us information. In that case, we need the public to be involved and to tell us anything suspicious. That's a big concern that we've had for years about the lone wolf situation.

BLITZER: Congressman Ruppersberger, thanks very much for coming in.

RUPPERSBERGER: OK. Sure, Wolf.

BLITZER: We appreciate your perspective.

RUPPERSBERGER: It's really great to see Americans coming together and the people of Boboston. They've got their city back, and it's fantastic.

BLITZER: Certainly agree with you on that. Thank you.

Arrest made in what they describe as a thwarted al Qaeda- supported terror plot. We're talking about new information coming in about a terror plot unveiled in Canada with potential ramifications here in the United States. We'll have details on that.

Plus, the latest on the Boston bombing investigation.

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