In short, I can definitively say that the FBI's handling of the Tsarnaevs was a complete intelligence failure because they failed to put the brothers under continued surveillance and also did not share intelligence with other intelligence agencies.
People on the other side don't seem to understand that the FBI is not just a law enforcement agency. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US made many structural changes to our homeland security system including the foundation of the Department of Homeland Security and establishing an intelligence agency within the FBI. A huge part of the problem is that the FBI continues to act solely as a law enforcement agency.
They did not "rule out" the brothers as a threat, they pretty much let them go because they could not find any evidence that can be used against them in court. The FBI knew they had ties to terrorist organizations, were sympathetic of their cause, and even that the older Tsarnaev brother had visited a known terror hotspot not long before the bombings. Any functioning intelligence organization would have put the Tsarnaev brothers under continued surveillance in order to not only monitor their movements, but also to obtain more information about the plans and identities of their affiliates in Chechnya.
Yet, the FBI simply dropped the case and then failed to share the intelligence they had gathered with other intelligence agencies. (This was a two way street since CIA was also guilty of stove piping information) Had the FBI put the Tsarnaev brothers under continued surveillance and shared the intelligence with other agencies, it's extremely likely that the Boston Marathon bombings would have been completely prevented. Unfortunately, this series of intelligence failures cost three people their lives, including a student at my university.
Whenever there are situations like this there is always hindsight of what should have been done. That will always be the case. But in this situation the FBI seemed to handle everything very well. They managed to keep people safe and got the surviving suspect off of the streets so there would not be anymore people hurt.
Whenever there are situations like this there is always hind sight of what should have been done. That will always be the case. But in this situation the FBI seemed to handle everything very well. They managed to keep people safe and got the surviving suspect off of the streets so there would not be any more people hurt.
The FBI has a responsibility to check out and investigate matters, issues and people that are brought to their attention. If the agents and resources used by the FBI rule out people or situations as being threats then we have to accept that they did what they could and were meant to do. The FBI doesn't have a crystal ball and they can't tell the future. They can only act in accordance with the information they have at the time.
I don't believe the FBI failed the situation. I am sure they would have rather capture both suspects, but at least they are off the streets. They took the public into account, had them get off the streets and lock themselves in. They were able to capture the one "alleged" bomber alive without anymore deaths. It could have been so much worse.
I do not believe that the FBI's handling of Tamerland Tsarnaev was an intelligence failure. As a matter of fact, I believe that the FBI did a great job when it came to those two terrorist suspects, and they should be commended. They did all that they could possibly do.