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


By:  Saxby Chambliss
Date: April 23, 2013
Location: Unknown


BLITZER: CNN by the way also caught up with the mother earlier today. That report coming up in our next hour. You'll be anxious to hear what else this mother has to say.

Meanwhile, officials are telling CNN that the surviving bombing suspect is giving new details about why these two brothers carried out the attacks. Joining us now, Republican senator, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. He's the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They just wrapped up a closed door briefing with the FBI.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us. Apparently, this younger brother in the hospital is suggesting that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were motivating factors for these brothers to go ahead and plant those bombs at the Boston marathon. Is that what you're hearing as well?

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, (R) INTELLIGENCE VICE CHAIRMAN: Well, Wolf, i can't comment obviously on what the individual has said. The FBI will be giving what information they can about that, but the fact of the matter is that we've got, obviously, all of the elements that indicates the involvement of these individuals. As for the why of it, that's going to be a very complex and comprehensive investigation.

The FBI is going to be talking to not just these individuals, this individual, but other individuals who were acquainted with these two men to see what they can find out about their motive because I'll be honest, it is not clear even after the interview of the suspect in custody has been conducted, it's still not clear exactly why they did this.

BLITZER: Can you tell us what you've learned about what the Tsarnaev -- this 19-year-old has been saying at his bed side to investigators?

CHAMBLISS: Well, they've been asking the obvious questions and our interrogators are very skilled. I can't get into the details of exactly what he has said, but I think it's pretty obvious the questions that they have asked. And he's responded with mixed statements as well as mixed emotions about what took place and what did happen and the involvement of he and his brother. There are lots of inconsistencies that the FBI is going to have to ferret out.

BLITZER: What does that mean, mixed emotions?

CHAMBLISS: Well, obviously, you have a young man who's coming and going with respect to the sedation that he's been under and very traumatic experience for any 19-year-old and he's obviously shown some emotion about his involvement and the facts leading up to this taking place. We know that from other statements, from other people that he went back out in the community after last Monday and socialized with friends.

I think that tells you something about this individual and some of the emotions that we might be seeing.

BLITZER: Are you saying that he's showing remorse at the hospital in the questioning or he's not or he's not showing any remorse? I wonder if you can elaborate on that.

CHAMBLISS: Yes. I don't think there's been any indication of remorse.

BLITZER: Has he bragged about what he and his brother did?

CHAMBLISS: I haven't been told that there's been any bragging on his part about the incident either, Wolf. It's been matter of fact, but you can't talk about what was done without showing some emotion.

BLITZER: Did he indicate that his older brother who's now dead actually masterminded the attack and that no international terrorist group was directly involved?

CHAMBLISS: That may or may not be the case. Obviously, we know that the brother became more and more radicalized over the last several years. We know that the brother traveled to Russia for about six months, the first part of 2012. He was in an area where lots of bad guys stay and train. Do we know that he was involved in any training there? The answer, clearly, is no at this point.

But those are the types of things, Wolf, that the FBI is spending time on today. They're doing a very thorough investigation all over the world with anybody who had any contact with these two individuals to try to see if they can't determine if anybody else was involved, were they in the United States, were they outside the United States. Those are unanswered questions at this point in time.

BLITZER: Is there evidence that the brothers were radicalized through their preachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike and specifically that "Inspire" magazine that has been circulating out there on the internet?

CHAMBLISS: There is a very clear indication that they reviewed "Inspire." As far as the influence of Awlaki, again, I have not heard that at this point. That's one of the things that I'm sure the FBI is going to be looking very closely into with respect to their websites, their e-mails, those types of things. But "Inspire" magazine is available over the internet and it's pretty clear that they read that magazine and whether that's where they learned how to make the bombs.

Again, we don't know the answer to, but, certainly, there are instructions in that journal that would tell you how to make bombs that are very similar to this. Not exactly like this but similar to the ones that were used.

BLITZER: I know you just emerged from a briefing with the FBI, a closed door briefing. Did the FBI drop the ball a couple years ago when the Russian authorities notified the U.S. that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was associating with Islamic radicals? Was there a blunder there?

CHAMBLISS: I think the FBI did a very thorough investigation of Tamerlan when they were notified by a foreign intelligence service, and they went back and asked for additional information not once, not twice, but three times, and they got no further information on exactly why that agency thought this individual might be radicalized. The FBI did the usual things you would expect as far as investigating the individual and it was a pretty thorough check.

And everything turned up negative. They went to websites. They went to friends of the individuals. They went to their parents. So, I think the FBI did a pretty thorough investigation. Were there mistakes made? Wolf, you will remember, I was very much involved in the post investigation of 9/11. We talked a lot then about sharing of information and trying to break down some stove pipes that existed within the intelligence and the law enforcement communities.

Well, we may be seeing some of those stove pipes re-erected here and we don't know that for sure, but that's a part of our oversight authority and our oversight duty. And we're trying to make sure that all of that information that was available was shared. If it wasn't, then there may be somebody who dropped the ball, but that's not evident at this point in time.

BLITZER: I know you and your colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee are going to do a thorough job looking back not for recriminations necessarily, but to make sure we all learn from what happened to avoid these kinds of potential mistakes down the road. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

CHAMBLISS: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be with you.


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