Senate panel reflects on lessons learned from Boston Marathon bombings 10 years later

WASHINGTON — This month marked 10 years since the deadly Boston Marathon bombing killed three people and hurt almost 300 others.

On Wednesday, members of a Senate panel heard from law enforcement and security experts about the lessons learned from the attack that can help better protect all of our communities.

“It turned a worldwide sporting event and a local celebration of patriotism and pride into a scene of carnage and mayhem,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who led the bipartisan discussion along with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

Witnesses said one of the biggest lessons learned was the need to improve information sharing among federal and local law enforcement agencies.

“Intelligence and threat assessment is probably the one area that’s most critical to being able to protect our citizens,” said Romney.

The Boston Marathon bombers were on the FBI’s radar before the bombing, but that information never made it to local law enforcement before the attack.

“The assessment alleged that he appeared to be radicalizing with potential ties to foreign terrorist organizations,” said Kerry Sleeper, a special advisor with Secure Community Network. “The assessment was eventually closed for lack of additional information.”

“If the FBI and Boston authorities had shared certain information, could this attack have been prevented? We don’t know the answer, but we know that certain critical information wasn’t shared in a timely way,” Hassan told our Washington News Bureau. “I think we are better at identifying threats and sharing information than we were, and we have made progress in those areas… But we also know that emerging technology like AI [artificial intelligence] is of concern.”

Those concerns about new technology were the focus of former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’ testimony.

“The danger is in some of these new technologies that are coming out there and not getting our arms around them before they take off,” Davis told our Washington News Bureau. “The criminals and terrorists can use the same tools against us. So, we have to stay ahead of them.”

The discussion also included the need to better secure soft targets like schools, churches, and grocery stores.

That includes everything from installing camera systems and locks, to implementing better safety threat training.

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