Past attempted bombings have triggered more security measures at airports -- requiring that shoes be removed, and body scanners to ensure that passengers are not carrying explosives in their undergarments. The Marathon bombing reveals how, outside of airliners, Americans remain exposed to a determined attacker.
''Even though we're so much better on pure preparedness â€" light years â€" the situations posed and the threats posed are greater, and they're harder to detect," said Representative William R. Keating, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. "I'm not saying it's the case here, but threats of lone wolves and people dealing in groups of two or three make it harder to detect. You just don't have the forewarning."
Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican and a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, said in an interview: "I believe that a lot of Americans have grown more complacent about the threat and this is a horrific reminder that the threat of terrorism is so very real and that there are those who are determined to harm innocent Americans using horrific means,"
Some lawmakers denounced budget cuts for law enforcement and raised questions about immigration legislation.
''Some of the speculation that has come out is that yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa. If that's the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture," Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, told National Review Online.
''We need to take a look at the visa-waiver program and wonder what we're doing," he added. "If we can't background-check people that are coming from Saudi Arabia, how do we think we are going to background check the 11 million to 20 million people that are here from who knows where?"
Several others, including Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, warned against jumping to conclusions. And reports indicated that a student from Saudi Arabia, who reportedly was questioned, had nothing to do with the bombing.
''We should really be very cautious about using language that links these two things in any way," Rubio told reporters Tuesday. "We know very little about Boston other than that it was obviously an act of terror. We don't know who carried it out or why they carried it out, and I would caution everyone to be very careful about linking the two."