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Doubting GOP senator slams ‘baseless’ attack he fell asleep during hearing

By Ron Brynaert
Thursday, May 13, 2010 14:26 EDT
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If the claim that a senator fell asleep during an intelligence hearing wasn’t spread to deflect his criticism of the Justice Department’s eagerness to link the Pakistan Taliban to the failed NYC bomb plot, there’s no doubt that the original report isn’t being spread to do just that now.

A Wall Street Journal article published late Tuesday, written by Evan Perez and Devlin Barrett, reported,

The relatively quick arrest in the botched May 1 Times Square bombing temporarily quieted the political sparring over national security policies.

But the cease-fire has now ended. Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he doesn’t yet buy the Obama administration’s claim that the alleged bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was trained, directed and likely financed by Pakistani Taliban militants.

Attorney General Eric Holder, said in televised interviews Sunday that Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-born American, was working at the direction of the group known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Holder’s appearance was part of a high-visibility administration response to the Times Square incident, which contrasted with the administration’s previous handling of other terrorism cases.

Bond emerged Tuesday from a briefing arranged by the Justice Department for members of the intelligence panel and said he’s “not convinced by the information I’ve seen so far that there was adequate confirmable intelligence” to make the Pakistani Taliban connection.

A Reuters report adds:

“I am not convinced by the information that I’ve seen so far that there was adequate, confirmable intelligence to corroborate the statements that were made on Sunday television shows,” Bond told reporters after the classified briefing.

“We’ve heard lots of suspicions and tenuous connections, but as far as I’m concerned you can’t make statements prior to getting the intelligence.”

….

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, emerged from the same briefing disagreeing with Bond. She said there was a “high likelihood” of interactions between Shahzad and the Pakistani Taliban.

But on Thursday, posts at Salon, The Washington Independent and two posts at Think Progress are concentrating on something attributed to an unnamed source in the WSJ article.

Just after noting that Bond’s “remarks threatened to restart sniping with Democrats,” the WSJ article added, “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.”

The WSJ article continued,

A Bond spokeswoman, referring to the claim Bond had fallen asleep during the Tuesday meeting, said: “Resorting to baseless personal attacks clearly shows Senator Bond touched a nerve and raised questions someone doesn’t want asked.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) also weighed in, saying he sat beside Bond during the briefing, and “I can tell you he was awake.” Hatch said that sometimes the lights in the room are so bright “you have to rest your eyes for a bit; you get light burn.”

Mocking Bond, Salon’s Alex Pareene used photoshop to add an old-timey sleeping cap to an Associated Press file picture.

Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman scoffed, “So he couldn’t have had an extra cup of coffee when the briefers trudged to the Hart building?”

At Think Progress, after noting how his colleague “Faiz Shakir observe[d] that Bond may be confused since he apparently took a nap in the middle of the briefing,” Matthew Yglesias complained that when senators who are older than the general population are in power “especially in terms of things like oversight it strikes me as pernicious.”

Bond was first elected governor of Missouri in 1973—which is to say he’s really old. 71 to be precise. The average American retires at 62. And a staggering 22 Senators are older than Bond. And we have a great many senators who are not only over seventy but are currently running for an additional six-year term in office. I’d vote for an old senator I agree with over a young one whose ideas I don’t like (after all, who wants to see a bad agenda pursued vigorously?) but especially in terms of things like oversight it strikes me as pernicious that we have such a gerontocracy these days. Add in the fact that the Senate operates on pretty strict seniority rules in terms of who has the most power and it’s not a good situation.

However, as conservatives might point out, when it comes to Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who was born twenty-two years earlier than Bond, blogs on the left, such as Think Progress, often just characterize him as the “the longest-serving member of the Senate” and not the oldest.

 
 
 
 
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