Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano admitted Tuesday that a Saudi national once identified as a “person of interest” in the Boston Marathon bombings was put on a terror watchlist after the attack.
Last week, she refused to answer any questions about the Saudi, calling South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan’s inquiry “so full of misstatements and misapprehension that it’s just not worthy of an answer.”
But today, speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform, Napolitano responded to a question posed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
“Before the [Tsarnaev] brothers became the focus of the investigation, authorities questioned a Saudi student who reportedly was on a terror watchlist,” Grassley said. “I sent a letter to you this morning asking for answers to questions about the bombers and how they interacted with your agency, I trust you will promptly respond…”
“With regard to the Saudi student, was he on a watchlist, and if so, how did he obtain a student visa?” Grassley asked.
Napolitano firmly responded: “He was not on a watchlist. What happened is — this student was, really when you back it out, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was never a subject. He was never even really a person of interest. Because he was being interviewed, he was at that point put on a watchlist, and then when it was quickly determined he had nothing to do with the bombing, the watch listing status was removed.” [Emphasis added]