U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says several people were taken into custody during raids in the northeastern United States in connection with this month's failed Times Square car bombing in New York City. Holder faced questions from congressional lawmakers about the Obama administration's national security policies and counter-terrorism funding for New York City.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made news as he told a House of Representatives oversight committee hearing about the investigation into the May 1 attempted car bombing in New York City.
"Just this morning, we executed search warrants in several locations in the Northeast in connection with the investigation into the attempted bombing," he said. "Several individuals who were encountered during those searches have been taken into federal custody for alleged immigration violations."
"These searches are the product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation since the attempted Times Square bombing and do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States," he added.
Federal agents conducted the raids in Massachusetts and New York.
Holder said the Justice Department believes that the Pakistani Taliban was responsible for the attempted attack. He added that U.S. officials are working with the authorities in Pakistan on the investigation. He said the Justice Department will use every resource available to ensure anyone found responsible, in the United States or overseas, is held accountable.
Holder faced tough questions and comments from several lawmakers. They pointed out that the attempted airliner bombing in Detroit last December and the Times Square attack failed because of the incompetence of the would-be terrorists and quick thinking by alert bystanders who responded quickly.
"Our national security policy should consist of more than just dumb bombers and smart citizens because sooner or later a terrorist is going to build a bomb that works," said Republican Representative Lamar Smith of Texas.
Criticism also came from Democrat Anthony Weiner of New York who questioned recent counterterrorism funding decisions by the Obama administration.
"But I have to tell you, as the chief law enforcement officer of this country, some of the funding decisions made by this administration have been mind-numbingly, insanely wrong," he said.
Weiner cited cuts in Homeland Security funding for mass transit and port security in New York City. He said there are fewer policemen on the street in New York now than there were before the 2001 terrorist attacks. The White House has countered claims by New York lawmakers that the administration is cutting security funds for New York City, saying the city will receive a net increase of $47 million for port and transit security this year.
White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro says the additional money will not come from the Homeland Security Department; instead it will be distributed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus package passed last year.