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May 05, 2010

Attorney General Speaks Out on Capitol Hill on Terror Plot

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad is cooperating with law enforcement and providing useful information. Holder told members of the U.S. Senate that authorities are pursuing a number of leads in the case.

It was the attorney general's first appearance before a Congressional committee since the attempted car bombing late Saturday, May 1.

It was supposed to be a hearing on the Justice Department's annual budget request. But it did not take long for the topic to shift to the bombing plot.

Holder said the investigation is continuing, adding Faisal Shahzad is cooperating.

"During ongoing questioning by federal agents, Shahzad has provided useful information and we will continue to pursue a number of leads as we gather intelligence related to this attempted attack," he said.

In his prepared testimony, Holder indicated there is little chance of a plea deal for Shahzad. He said if convicted, the suspect faces a potential life sentence in prison.

Holder stressed the Obama administration's determination to bring all those involved in terror plots against Americans to justice. He said the attempted attack in New York shows the terrorist threat is real.

"Although this car bomb failed to properly detonate this plot was yet another reminder that terrorists are still plotting to kill Americans," said Holder.

Democrats at the hearing praised the administration's handling of the New York bombing plot.

But across Capitol Hill, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives raised questions about President Barack Obama's commitment to combating terror.

Congressman John Boehner of Ohio was blunt.

"First he has to acknowledge we are in a war against radical terrorists, which lot of Democrats don't want to use those words and don't want to say it," he said. "But we are!"

The attempted car bombing has also prompted some lawmakers to propose new legislation that they say will make it more difficult for would-be terrorists to carry out plots in the United States.

One idea is to deny the right to buy a gun to anyone whose name is on a terror watch list. Another would strip the U.S. citizenship of any American who becomes affiliated with a foreign terrorist group.