Back and forth we go on the whole "Faisal Shahzad is linked to the Pakistani Taliban" matter!
Over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder and National Security Adviser John Brennan repeatedly asserted on Sunday morning's political talk shows that Shahzad was definitively linked to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. The matter had been in dispute on the pages of newspapers during the week .
On "Meet The Press", Holder said the linkage was all but certain:
HOLDER: Well, I can say that the evidence that we've now developed shows that the Pakistani Taliban has directed this plot. We know that they helped facilitate it. We know that they helped direct it. And I suspect that we are gonna come pick up with evidence that shows they helped to finance it. They were intimately involved in this plot.
Now, Spencer Ackerman reports that the heads of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are of two minds on the matter:
But committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) inclined strongly toward that interpretation. "We clearly know that Shahzad drove the bomb-laden SUV to Times Square [and] that he received explosives training in Waziristan," Feinstein said, calling for both the Pakistani Taliban and the extremist network run by the Haqqani family on both sides of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border to be placed on the State Department's list of banned terrorist organizations. Asked for clarification about Shahzad's ties to the Pakistani Taliban, who claimed responsibility the day of the attempt, "I believe there is a high likelihood that he did have training while he was in Pakistan, specifically Waziristan, from the Taliban," but called that in part a "deduction from what I've heard."
Feinstein's GOP counterpart, Kit Bond (R-Mo.), chided Attorney General Eric Holder for being definitive about Shahzad's Taliban connections on Sunday talk shows. "I am not convinced by the information I've seen so far that there is adequate, confirmable intelligence to corroborate the statements on Sunday television shows," Bond said. "We hear there are lots of strong suspicions and lots of trails [the intelligence community is] following. I think people should wait to speak about the origins until they are certain about it."
Bond made his pronouncement after a briefing arranged by the Justice Department. But the senator may have missed some important information. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Bond fell asleep for 10-15 minutes during the briefing:
One person who was in the room for Tuesday's intelligence briefing said Bond appeared to fall asleep for 10 to 15 minutes, but that he and other senators had spirited exchanges with the briefers.
Responding to the report about the senator falling asleep, a spokesperson for Bond later told the Journal, "Resorting to baseless personal attacks clearly shows Senator Bond touched a nerve and raised questions someone doesn't want asked."
TAPPED's Adam Serwer points out that there remain plenty of reasons to doubt a linkage, and offers some speculation on Holder's Sunday statements: "Why might Holder have exaggerated? Public support for the war in Afghanistan is flagging, and a definite link between a terrorist attempt here and the TTP would further justify the engagement of the U.S. military there."
Feinstein, Bond: No Definitive Evidence Yet Tying Pakistani Taliban to Times Square Bomber [Washington Independent]
Bond: Shahzad-TTP Link Not Definite [TAPPED]