The more we learn about the Boston Marathon bombings, the greater our sense that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspected perpetrators, could somehow have been stopped. It’s a seductive notion: The families of an 8-year-old boy, two young women, and a campus police officer might still have their loved ones today, and that dozens of others might still possess limbs and their former lives, if only the FBI, the CIA, and other agencies had pieced together clues—especially signs of the older brother’s open radicalization—that in hindsight appear obvious. There is also a growing understanding, after an era when homeland terrorism was nearly forgotten, that Americans had better get ready for the next threat, and fast. It is not unreasonable to think that even now a copycat terrorist is pondering some plot inspired by the Boston bombers’ success carrying out the first homeland attack since Sept. 11, 2001.
In this week's National Journal cover story, Michael Hirsh looks at why the Obama administration's plan to use American Muslims as an early-detection system to spot radicals hasn't worked. In the video above, go inside the story with the author himself.