The Cable

Saudi national no longer ‘person of interest’ in Boston bombings, no other suspects

The Saudi national injured during the bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon Monday has been cleared and is no longer even a person of interest, intelligence officials told lawmakers Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed members of the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors in a pre-scheduled hearing that was supposed to focus on the budget, but Clapper began with an update of the bombings. Ranking Republican Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) emerged from the briefing and said he was told the 22-year old Saudi student who was injured during the bombings and remains in the care of a local hospital was no longer a focus of investigators.

"He was never categorized as a suspect; he was a person of interest. My understanding is that he totally cooperated and that he is no longer a person of interest," Chambliss said.

Asked if there were any other persons of interest at this time, Chambliss said, "Not that I know of."

Details about the bombings are still scarce and the investigation hasn't yielded any firm conclusions about the perpetrator or the origin of the explosive devices yet, according to Chambliss.

"It's a very fluid investigation, the FBI is in the lead, and I personally know the special agent in charge. He is one of the best, and they are doing a very good job of moving the investigation forward," he said. "We don't know at this point whether it was a home grown terrorist, whether it was an isolated incident or part of an overall scheme, whether it was a domestic terrorist or a foreign terrorist."

Chambliss did say that security around the country would have to change for large public events, including greater involvement by the federal government.

"This was a soft target. It was not a target that was able to be totally protected," he said. "This particular incident is going to cause the administration and Congress to evaluate our overall security programs around the country, particularly for major events. We can't leave it just to the communities that host these events to provide the security."

UPDATE: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Tuesday afternoon that there had been no advance intelligence information before the attacks. Read about that here.

The Cable

Feinstein: Saudi national ‘not a suspect’ in Boston bombings

The Saudi national injured in the Boston Marathon bombings Monday is "not a suspect," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told The Cable Tuesday.

"As far as I know, he is not a suspect," Feinstein said Tuesday afternoon. She declined to specify how she knew but said she had been briefed Monday night by Sean Joyce, the No. 2 official at the FBI. Feinstein said her information about the Saudi national was not dispositive because the investigation was still ongoing.

"This is the problem with answering these questions, because we don't really know. We only really know one thing: this qualifies as far as I'm concerned as a terrorist attack," she said.

Feinstein said she didn't know yet if the attack was from a foreign or domestic source.

"It's hard to tell," she said. "I think the device will determine a lot of that."

Investigators have already searched the home of the 22-year old Saudi student, who was injured during the bombings and remains in the care of a local hospital. Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. have also not been informed that the student is either a suspect or a person of interest.

Feinstein will chair a closed hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon featuring Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that was supposed to be focused on the budget. The Boston attacks are sure to be discussed. There is also a closed intelligence briefing late Tuesday afternoon for committee members that will focus more squarely on the attacks.

Asked for an update on the investigation, Feinstein said that nothing much has changed since Monday evening.

"It's sort of a forensic slog right now of doing everything that need to be done to secure what is a huge crime scene, take down hundreds of security cameras, go through the film minute by minute, hour after hour, and try to follow forensic evidence. A big task is even collecting the forensic evidence," she said. "You've got a crime scene that could be anywhere along 25 miles. Where did the individual come from, how did he get there, where did he go?"

Nevertheless, Feinstein expressed confidence that the attackers will be brought to justice.

"I have great faith that an arrest is going to be made. I don't think tis going to be the day after tomorrow, but that's OK, it's going to happen," she said. "You cannot do this in the United States."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal at the State Department Tuesday morning. State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the Saudi national did not come up. A photo op with the two leaders was cancelled.

"I wouldn't read too much into it one way or another other than scheduling," said Ventrell. "But they had a good and productive meeting, and the foreign minister did express his condolences killed and injured in the Boston Marathon bombings to Secretary Kerry this morning."