Shahzad And Taliban: New York Times Jumps The Gun
McClatchy Newpapers is reporting that "U.S. officials" are contending that there is "no credible evidence" that would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was trained by foreign terrorists. But, wait wait! I would have sworn that two days ago, the New York Times was reporting that evidence of such a linkage was "mounting?" Looks like somebody jumped the gun!
Indeed, on May 5th, the Times published an article entitled "Evidence Mounts for Taliban Role in Bomb Plot". That would have sort of led you to believe that readers would soon enjoy a detailed accounting of some sort of evidence.
Basically, here it is:
American officials said Wednesday that it was very likely that a radical group once thought unable to attack the United States had played a role in the bombing attempt in Times Square, elevating concerns about whether other militant groups could deliver at least a glancing blow on American soil.
"Officials" would go on to reiterate that "evidence was mounting," that Shahzad "discussed his contacts with the group," and that there was "other evidence" that officials "would not disclose."
Of course, who's to say that a "discussion" of Faisal's "contacts" with the Taliban wasn't limited to the lack thereof? The Times either doesn't know or can't say. And coupled with the dramatic mention of undisclosable evidence, you have a "senior Obama administration official" saying "'there are no smoking guns yet' that the Pakistani Taliban had directed the Times Square bombing."
On the other hand, McClatchy reports:
No credible evidence has been found so far that the Pakistani-American man accused in the Times Square bombing plot received any serious terrorist training from the Pakistani Taliban or another radical Islamic group, six U.S. officials said Thursday.
"There is nothing that confirms that any groups have been found involved in this for certain," one U.S. official told McClatchy. "It's a lot of speculation at this point."
Faisal Shahzad may have, at the most, had "incidental contact" with a terrorist organization, and he may have been encouraged to act, said one of the officials, who declined to elaborate further.
What follows in the McClatchy piece is a full blow-by-blow of Shahzad's incompetence, from his use of the "wrong kind of fertilizer" to his failure to conceal his identity to his bungled escape attempt to the fact that he "hadn't even removed the plastic caps on the propane tanks' valves before he abandoned the vehicle." All of which led to the rather obvious supposition that Shahzad "never received even rudimentary terrorist training or instructions on how to evade arrest."
Perhaps the Times should pay closer attention to the reporting being done at their City Room blog, which got the scoop on Shahzad's trip to a Pennsylvania fireworks shop, where he purchased "a package of M88 Silver Salute firecrackers," believing them to be an effective means of igniting his bomb.
McClatchy takes an opportunity to say, HA HA SNACK ON THIS, NEW YORK TIMES:
Several news reports on Thursday, though, said that U.S. officials had gathered "mounting" evidence that the Pakistani Taliban had trained Shahzad.
"Officials said that after two days of intense questioning of the bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad, evidence was mounting that the group, the Pakistani Taliban, had helped inspire and train Mr. Shahzad," The New York Times reported.
It's the same old story, really. There's a big war on terror story -- say, a drone strike or some such thing -- and a passel of reporters run to "officials" and write down whatever they say. "Oh, yeah," Anonymous Source will say, "We got some really bad guys with that drone attack!" Only later, when the reporters take over the ball from the stenographers, do we learn that none of that is actually true, and there's no way to hold any officials accountable, because they've been granted anonymity.
But I think this is my favorite part of this whole saga. In their premature ejaculation, the Times mentions that in "a video on Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing." (Follow that link if you like! It's in the original, and takes you to another page on the Times website with the exact same sentence and link, which, if followed, keeps taking you back to the second page.)
If you want to know what the Pakistani Taliban actually said, here you go:
The group yesterday reversed that earlier position, with one spokesman saying the Pakistani Taliban had nothing to do with the attempted bombing, but adding: "Such attacks are welcome."
"We have no relation with Faisal. However, he is our Muslim brother," Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told the AP in Pakistan by telephone from an undisclosed location. "We feel proud of Faisal. He did a brave job."
Tariq said the Taliban only knew from media reports that Shahzad had told authorities he learned how to make bombs in Waziristan, an autonomous tribal region of Pakistan seen as a terrorist stronghold.
You shouldn't believe everything you read in the papers, Azam!