The US intelligence community is in a state of disarray—most recently illustrated by the Boston Marathon Bombings—but the idea of more structured cooperation between US and Russian intelligence as a result of the tragic incident is probably a non-starter.
US media outlets have latched onto the idea of a new era of US-Russian intelligence cooperation as a result of the Chechen connection to the Boston bombing. It's an attractive, post-Cold War idea that makes for good headlines.
The reality is less dramatic. US intelligence failures since 9/11 can in large part be contributed to a lack of cooperation among US agencies themselves. Adding increased cooperation in a structured way with external agencies simply isn't feasible.
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Last week, police arrested 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (a Russian of Chechen origins) after a shootout that left the other suspect, his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan, dead. According to investigators, Dzhokhar has admitted under interrogation that he and his brother were en route to New York to conduct a second attack when they were stopped by police. They blame the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for their radicalization. But there are plenty of unanswered questions here.
Both brothers were on Russian and US watch lists, and a six-month trip made by Tamerlan a year ago to Dagestan, a hotbed of Islamic radicalism in Russia's North Caucasus, was on everyone's radar.
Russia says it didn't have any substantive evidence to hand over to US intelligence agencies on the two brothers; likewise, US agencies had nothing conclusive prior to the attack. Indeed, Dzhokhar, by all accounts, was nothing more than a student studying marine biology at a Boston University, on an academic scholarship.
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Try as it might to get the US to become more fully engaged in what the Kremlin calls the "international terrorist threat" emanating from its North Caucasus, the US is not positioned to bite.