All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.
As of this writing, America can breathe a collective sigh of relief - at least for now.
The Boston bombings nightmare has apparently ended with one suspect dead and the other in law enforcement custody. Yet many serious questions remain - not the least of which is this:
Why was the national intelligence community apparently unaware of this insidious terrorist plot? Why wasn't this national tragedy prevented?
Frances Townsend, former homeland security advisor to President George W. Bush, broached the issue earlier on CNN. Apparently, reports have surfaced that the Russian government had informed U.S. intelligence officials about one of the Boston terrorist suspects a couple of years ago.
Following up on the tip, the FBI allegedly checked out the now dead terrorist, known as "Suspect #1" (the older brother). But what the heck happened after that?
How and why did "Suspect #1" slip through the FBI's fingers until after the bombings?
Why didn't the FBI more closely monitor "Suspect #1" after being tipped off?
Where was the surveillance, wire tapping and other intelligence gathering methods which may have led to an arrest and the prevention of this national tragedy? Why wasn't the Patriot Act invoked to gather more evidence on "Suspect #1" then and now.
In essence, how was this malicious and cowardly plot hatched under the nose of federal, state and local law enforcement and intelligence officials?
We should keep in mind that it's possible the Boston bombings could have been much worse.
Imagine if the perpetrators had access to higher-grade explosives, a "dirty bomb" or a deadly chemical agent? Surely, hundreds - if not thousands - of innocent lives would have been lost under that unthinkable scenario.
Thus what are the lessons learned here? Where's the so-called "teachable moment"?
Moreover, going forward, what could or should the U.S. government do differently, if anything? What could or should the American public do differently, if anything?
For example, should even tighter security and surveillance measures be implemented at the national, state and local levels?
Should more suspicious or odd activity be reported to authorities by the public at large?
Will some of our cherished constitutional freedoms be further curtailed by Congress, as some fear?
We all have a stake in this fight - the "War on Terrorism" - especially when it comes to defending the homeland.
Roles must be further defined. Intelligence must to be further enhanced. Greater vigilance must be exercised.
All of the above must occur to assure that this never happens again because the next time may be much worse.
For now, we offer sympathy and prayer for the victims and their families. We hope and pray there will be no "next time". But, first, many lingering questions must be answered as the nation heals.
And the sooner, the better.
David B. Grinberg is an independent political-media analyst with prior work experience in the White House, Congress, federal agencies, political polling firms, and the news media - including:
* Government spokesman at U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
* Political appointee in Clinton-Gore Administration (OMB, Presidential Personnel).
* Staff, Office of the Majority Leader, former Congressman Richard Gephardt.
* Staff, national Democratic pollsters/strategists Stanley Greenberg and Celinda Lake.
* Journalist, reporter at BNA, Inc. (now "Bloomberg BNA) and "U. Magazine" (Colleges.com).
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