Obama Faces Second-Guessing Over Boston Marathon Bombing

Some in Congress suggest mistakes were made by FBI and others.

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President Obama faces a prolonged period of second-guessing over whether his administration did enough to detect the Boston Marathon bombers in advance and what should be done to fight terrorism in the future.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says mistakes were made in tracking at least one of the terrorist suspects in Boston, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who made what Graham considers suspicious visits abroad and apparently posted anti-American comments online.

[READ: Suspect Taken Into Custody After Hiding in Boat in Watertown, Mass.]

Tsarnaev was questioned in 2011 by the FBI after a tip from Russian officials but he was released and he was not judged a threat.

"It's people like this that you don't want to let out of your sight, and this was a mistake," Graham told CNN Sunday. "Either our laws are insufficient or the FBI failed, but we're at war with radical Islamists and we need to up our game."

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President Barack Obama speaks during an interfaith service for the victims of the Boston Marathon attack.

Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a confrontation with police last week.

Some legislators want the military to handle the prosecution of the remaining suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the brother of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Republican Rep. Peter King of New York and Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John McCain of Arizona and Graham are urging Obama to have Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tried as an enemy combatant rather than a "common criminal."

[PHOTOS: History of U.S. Bombings, Failed Attempts]

The legislators said turning Tsarnaev over to the military would allow faster prosecution and produce more immediate intelligence information from Tsarnaev, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Other legislators including California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, prefer that the trial be held in civilian court.

Federal authorities are already making a concession to the special nature of the case. They say they will invoke a "public safety exception" to civilian law and not read Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent, in order to obtain maximum information from him about the bombings.

Americans seem to support Obama's initial response to the attack. He was steady, projected strength, and didn't jump to conclusions. He lavished praise on first responders, law enforcement officers and everyday Bostonians who responded to the bombings with resilience, bravery and a cooperative spirit.

[READ: Opinion | Did the Media Botch the Boston Bombing?]

Obama discussed the legal issues and other topics related to the case Saturday with senior advisers including Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book, Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com, and followed on Facebook and Twitter.