(CBS NEWS) -- In the face of recent criticism about the federal response to the
Boston bombings, President Obama on Tuesday lauded the "exemplary"
response of law enforcement agents, and dismissed criticism as
Mr. Obama, speaking to
reporters at a White House press briefing on the 100th day of his second
term, expressed his pride in the people of Boston and their handling of
the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260.
we saw in Boston was state, local, federal officials, every agency,
rallying around a city that had been attacked, identifying the
perpetrators just hours after the scene had been examined," he said. "We
now have one individual deceased one in custody. Charges have been
In the wake of the bombings, law enforcement and federal
officials combined forces in their efforts to swiftly identify and
apprehend potential perpetrators. Within the week of the incident, one
suspect, 26-year-old Tamarlan Tsarnaev, had been killed in a shoot-out
with law enforcement. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was in
But in the days since the two brothers were identified as the
alleged bombers, evidence has emerged that at least one of them was
viewed as a potential threat by both the Russian government and the
C.I.A., and more than one lawmaker, including Sen. Lindsey Graham,
R-S.C., has suggested the federal government let the case slip through
Mr. Obama dismissed to reporters Graham's
critiques as "not right." But, he added, "I'm sure [Graham's comments]
generated some headlines."
"They not only investigated the older
brother, they interviewed the older brother," Mr. Obama said, referring
to the now deceased Tamarlan Tsarnaev. Since there was "no sign he was
engaging in extremist activity," the question, Mr. Obama said, is "was
there something that happened that triggered radicalization and an
actual decision by the brother to engage in the attack."
way, Mr. Obama insisted the federal response was "exemplary" and said
"we should be very proud of their work as obviously we're proud of the
people in Boston."
Asked about Syria, and the recent
allegations that chemical weapons were used there in two separate
attacks last month, the president reiterated the notion that such
behavior would qualify as a "game changer" for his administration. But
he also insisted that he needs more information before he can ramp up
his administration's response.
"When I said the use of
chemical weapons would be a game changer, that... was not a position
that's unique to the United States and it shouldn't have been a
surprise," Mr. Obama said. But, he added, "we don't know how [the
chemical weapons] were used, when they were used, who used them, we
don't have a chain of custody."
"If we end up rushing to
judgment without hard effective evidence then we can find ourselves in a
position here we can't mobilize the international community to support
what we do."
The president said there was a "spectrum of
options" he is potentially prepared to use in Syria that are "on the
shelf right now," but declined to specify as to what those options are.