Home' InDaily : November 13th 2009 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au
The Independent Weekly
November 13 - 19, 2009
Including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Independent and AAP
WASHINGTON: As America mourned
the 13 people shot dead last week at
Fort Hood in Texas, finger-pointing
in Washington has intensified about
whether officials at several agencies
had failed to coordinate as they
tracked the suspect s activities or to
react to possible warning signs in
the months before the attack.
President Barack Obama and first
lady Michelle attended a sombre
memorial service at the sprawling
army post, where he spoke about
each of those killed.
"Their memory will be honoured
in the places they lived and by the
people they touched," the President
said. "Neither this country, nor the
values that we were founded upon,
could exist without men and women
like these 13 Americans."
Near the base, investigators
continued searching for clues to the
attack, with blue-gloved FBI agents
sifting through garbage outside
the Islamic Community Center
of Greater Killeen, where Army
Major Nidal M. Hasan worshiped
before allegedly firing more than 100
rounds last week in what authori-
ties say is the largest attack at a
military base in the United States.
In Washington, lawmakers and
counter-terrorism experts debated
whether officials bungled the intel-
ligence analysis or played down the
threat that Hasan may have posed.
The concerns resonated in part
because of similar accusations
that, in the months leading up to
the attacks on September 11, 2001,
officials had missed opportunities
and neglected to share information,
contributing to their failure to
detect or prevent the tragedy.
Reforms in the eight years since
have focused on improving com-
munication between agencies and
making intelligence capabilities
Hasan, a psychiatrist who had
worked at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center, first came to the
attention of two Joint Terrorism
Task Forces in December. He
corresponded by email as many as
20 times with radical imam Anwar
al-Aulaqi, who has exhorted follow-
ers in the United States, Britain and
elsewhere to pursue violent jihad, or
holy war. The task of vetting Hasan
fell to a Defense Department analyst
on the DC-area taskforce, who
searched the doctor s background,
employment records and other
paperwork. The analyst concluded
that the chatter was innocent, in
keeping with Hasan s research
interests, and that he did not have
links to terrorism. Authorities
closed the matter this spring, opting
against a full-blown investigation.
Other facts that have emerged
since did not enter into the analysis,
including Hasan s purchase of a
weapon on August 1, his alleged
website posting six months ago
about suicide bombings, and unease
among some of his Walter Reed
colleagues after a presentation he
gave in 2007 about Muslim soldiers
with "religious conflicts".
"Why didn t they interview him
and run this to ground?" asked one
former US counter-terrorism offi-
cial. The official asked the Obama
administration this week whether
the FBI s operations guidelines
prevented agents from doing more
before the shootings. If the bureau s
hands were tied, "where was the
Department of Defense?" said the
The FBI and Defense Department
continue to assert that Hasan acted
on his own, without direction from
terrorists or radical elements, but
they cautioned that the investiga-
tion could take "some time".
Senior investigators have said
that a motive for Hasan, who has
declined to talk to the FBI or the
army s Criminal Investigative
Command, could long remain a
ROME: The Vatican s official news-
paper has endorsed the possibility
that the universe could contain
intelligent life beyond Earth, while
insisting that aliens would be "our
brothers" and "children of God" as
much as human beings are.
The Pope s astronomer, Jos
Gabriel Funes, a Jesuit priest,
told L Osservatore Romano that
there would be nothing surprising
about the existence of intelligent
"Just as there is a multiplicity of
creatures on Earth, so there could
be other beings created by God
[beyond it]," he said.
The interview suggests that the
Church s hierarchy may be paving
the way to showing that Pope
Benedict XVI is more open to the
ideas of modern science than he
has previously seemed to be.
Pope Benedict has spoken in
favour of "intelligent design" in the
past and has damned evolutionary
ideas that leave no room for God.
Father Funes, in the interview,
admits that, for him, evolution is a
given. He also said that he believed
in the Big Bang theory as the most
likely explanation for the origin
of the universe, and that the Bible
should not be held to account for its
lack of scientific accuracy.
"Fundamentally," he said, "the
Bible is not a book of science ... It s
a love letter written by God to his
people in the language of two or
three thousand years ago ... So one
cannot ask the Bible for scientific
The existence of alien beings
would not create a problem for
believers, he insisted, "because one
cannot put limits on the creative
freedom of God ... They would be
part of creation."
Pope Benedict has reminded
believers that "Revelation teaches
us that [man] was created in the
image and likeness of God", and
that "man is the only creature on
Earth that God has wanted for his
SEOUL: A badly damaged North
Korean patrol ship retreated in
flames this week after a skirmish
with a South Korean vessel -- the
first naval clash between the two
nations in seven years.
The timing -- just a week before
US President Barack Obama is due
to visit Seoul -- raised suspicions
that the North s reclusive
Communist regime is trying
to rachet up tensions to gain a
There were no South Korean
casualties, the country s Joint
Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
South Korea s YTN television
reported that one North Korean
officer was killed and three other
sailors were wounded, citing an
unidentified government source.
The exchange of fire occurred
as US officials said Mr Obama has
decided to send a special envoy to
Pyongyang for rare direct talks
on the country s nuclear weapons
program. The talks would be the
first one-on-one negotiations
since the President took office in
"It was an intentional provoca-
tion by North Korea to draw
attention ahead of Obama s trip,"
said Shin Yul, a political science
professor at Myongji University.
He said the North was sending a
message to Mr Obama that it wants
to replace the armistice agreement
that ended the Korean War in 1953
with a permanent peace treaty
while keeping its nuclear weapons.
Washington has consistently
said that Pyongyang must
abandon its nuclear arsenal for
any peace treaty to be concluded.
North Korea has conducted two
underground nuclear tests since
2006 and is believed to have enough
weaponised plutonium for half a
dozen atomic weapons.
According to Seoul, a North
Korean patrol boat crossed the
disputed western sea border,
drawing warning shots from a
South Korean navy vessel.
The North Korean boat then
opened fire and the South s ship
returned fire before the North s
vessel sailed back toward its
waters. The shooting lasted for
about two minutes, during which
the North Korean ship fired about
50 rounds at the South Korean
vessel, about two miles away.
Each side blamed the other for
violating the sea border. "We are
sternly protesting to North Korea
and urging it to prevent the recur-
rence of similar incidents," Rear
Admiral Lee Ki Sik told reporters.
The Koreas regularly accuse
each other of straying into their
respective territories. South
Korea s military said that North
Korean ships have already violated
the sea border 22 times this year.
PARIS: French President Nicolas Sarkozy
became embroiled in a bizarre verbal ping-
pong match this week after he announced
that he had personally helped to demolish
the Berlin Wall on the first day of its fall 20
On his Facebook page, Mr Sarkozy said
he had dashed to Berlin on the morning of
November 9, 1989, with the future prime
minister, Alain Jupp , after hearing
rumours that the Wall was coming down.
The page carried a picture of the young
Sarkozy attacking the Wall as part of what
was claimed to be a large crowd assembled
on the western side.
Several other websites pointed out that
rumours of the Wall s fall had only started
in the evening and that no crowds assem-
bled on the western side until the next day.
Mr Jupp said on his blog that he had
travelled to Berlin with Mr Sarkozy
"several days" after the Wall fell.
The Elysee Palace then said that Mr
Sarkozy had made two visits to Berlin, on
November 9 and 16.
The ping-pong continues.
It's life ...
but not as
we know it
Korean ships clash on high seas
Another brick off the wall?
Blame game escalates
over Texas tragedy
Soldiers hold a chemical light vigil held at Fort Hood.
The photo on Nicolas Sarkozy s Facebook page.
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