Terrorism expert: Boston bombing will shade debates over immigration, online privacy and ATF director

04/25/2013 01:40 PM

The effect of the Boston marathon bombings on key policy debates in Washington and homeland security efforts will be broad, said former FBI analys-turned-professor Max Wise.

Wise is an assistant professor of political science at Campbellsville University who also teaches intelligence analysis courses at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. He worked at the FBI in Washington, focusing on weapons of mass destruction, in 2003 before moving to the FBI’s Louisville field office for four years.

Wise said the question of whether the attack was an act of foreign or domestic terrorism in this case is hard to determine but will likely influence policy debates in Washington.

“We are talking about someone who was able to go through the [immigration] process. It will be interesting with the whole immigration debate that’s up right now of looking at individuals that come here under asylum as to how this family got here,” Wise said (at 3:30).

Wise said the situation showed how well all law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local level can work together and that people in those agencies learned a lot from the investigation.

“Everyone kept saying that the technology of facial recognition is going to be the way we are going to catch criminals, that didn’t actually work this time. It still came down to human intelligence,” (at 5:50).

After the bombings, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was one of the agencies brought in to investigate. But the ATF has not had a permanent director since the position was made subject to U.S. Senate approval in 2006.

Wise says when he worked with the FBI, he worked with ATF agents frequently and said it is difficult when an agency doesn’t have that chain of command.

“I just think it gives a sense to the American people when you’re FBI special agent in charge of Boston comes out and does the press conference, if no one is really there as the acting director of the ATF especially at that top command I think it can show ‘who’s running this, who’s at the top here, who’s making the calls?’” Wise said (at 8:30).


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