WASHINGTON — Senators emerged from a closed-door briefing with the top U.S. intelligence official about Monday’s Boston bombing to say it is unclear whether al-Qaida played a role.
What Obama, as well as intelligence and law enforcement officials, are telling lawmakers and saying publicly is notable because after nearly 24 hours to dissect both bombs and examine other evidence, they allegedly have few leads on the origins of those who plotted and carried out the attack.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee about the deadly attack. While senators declined to discuss specifics, they offered a few key nuggets.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the panel’s ranking member, said intelligence and federal law enforcement officials have yet to determine whether the plot was carried out by domestic- or foreign-based perpetrators.
“It’s too early to draw those conclusions,” Collins told reporters.
Chambliss said investigators have a tough task because “it’s a strange situation” because the 26-mile Boston Marathon route, which ends downtown, is “a soft target.”
Earlier Tuesday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., told Defense News he would need “a heck of a lot more information” before definitively saying whether the attackers are from the United States or affiliated with a foreign group like al-Qaida.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning dubbed the attack “an act of terrorism.” Obama and other senior officials are vowing to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
A Taliban spokesman has denied his group had any role in the attack.
The Defense Department has deployed assets to help with the probe, including a Navy explosive ordnance disposal unit.