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Probe of Boston Bombings Will Guide Congress on National Security

By Lisa Barron   |   Wednesday, 17 Apr 2013 10:57 AM

While the FBI and police work to find a suspect for the deadly Boston Marathon bombings, Congress has begun debating whether the national security needs of the country should be re-examined and possibly tightened.

But until law enforcement authorities can determine who is responsible for the Boston bombings, lawmakers say they really won't know for certain what kind of changes, if any, need to be made.

“It’s incredibly difficult when you have such a large scene: so many victims, you have two different locations where you had devices detonated, you have to have ATF come in and tell you what those devices were, reconstruct, so you can figure out what kind of an actor do you have,” Rep. Rich Nugent told The Hill.

“You don’t want to get ahead of yourself on this stuff,” said the Florida Republican, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Everybody wants to, but they really shouldn’t.”

Once there is more concrete information, however, the review by Congress is expected to begin in earnest.

Editor's Note: LIGNET: Was al-Qaida Behind the Attacks?

“We will absolutely open for re-examination of what we learned and go from there,” Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, also a member of the Armed Services committee, told The Hill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also signaled a new mood in Congress to revisit national security requirements, suggesting that lawmakers had failed to remain vigilant against possible terrorist attacks on American soil.

“I think it’s safe to say that, for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has actually returned,” the Kentucky Republican said in a floor speech Tuesday.

As Congress begins to debate the issue again, however, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul suggested that some immediate precautions should be taken at large public gatherings like the Boston Marathon.

“I think you’ll see more canines at events like this — bomb-sniffing canines. I can see that being the one thing we change in the future,” the Texas Republican told The Hill.

A more decisive response by Congress, however, is likely to depend largely on whether authorities discover whether the attack was the work of a lone individual or a more substantial network.

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