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  • 53 Hours: Faisal Shahzad's Near Disaster

    Frustrated sons of privilege, caught between East and West, sometimes make for dangerous militants. Mohamed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, was the son of a Cairo lawyer and the grandson of a doctor. The so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is the son of a wealthy Nigerian diplomat. Faisal Shahzad, too, appeared to be a fairly secularized, Westernized Pakistani. His father was once a high-ranking official in Pakistan’s Air Force, and Faisal had become a U.S. citizen. But unknown to many who knew him superficially, his life was riven by tensions that propelled him toward terrorism.
  • A Legal Challenge to the Vatican's Immunity Claim

    The Catholic Church has settled hundreds of alleged cases of sexual abuse by priests. But the Vatican—a walled corner of Rome commonly recognized as a sovereign nation—has remained immune from lawsuits. Now that “sovereign immunity” protection may be in jeopardy. Federal appeals courts in Kentucky and Oregon ruled recently that the Vatican may be vulnerable. And last month, in a separate action, the plaintiff’s lawyer in the Oregon case sued the Holy See in a Wisconsin court for, among other things, access to the Vatican’s private files on sex offenders.
  • Pakistan Taliban Source: Times Square Bombing Attempt Was 'Revenge Against America'

    A top Afghan Taliban planner and organizer tells NEWSWEEK he wasn't surprised by the attempted car bombing in Times Square. "We were expecting this," says the source, who operates on both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He says the Pakistani Taliban—formally known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban—was hellbent on revenge after the Predator drone attack that killed its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, last August and the more recent strikes that nearly killed Baitullah's successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, this January. "They were desperately looking for revenge against America inside America," says the source, who declined to be identified by name for security reasons. Hakimullah went deep underground immediately after the Hellfire missile attack in January, disappearing so completely that even his fellow militants thought he was dead. According to the senior Afghan source, he vanished not only for his own safety but also because he wanted to come back with a bang: ...
  • Obama Officials on Shahzad Case: We Did It Right

    Obama administration officials are touting what they say is the continuing cooperation of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad as evidence that nonaggressive interrogation techniques and procedures that were used in his case can be at least as effective as more controversial—and violent—Bush administration counterterrorism tactics.  A preliminary official account of events following Shahzad’s arrest has been provided to Declassified by a government official who asked for anonymity because the inquiry is continuing. After being taken off his Dubai-bound flight shortly before it was due to leave the gate, Shahzad initially was “questioned extensively” without being read his rights, according to the account. The questioning was conducted under a “publi-safety exemption to Miranda” allowing investigators to question suspects without reading them their rights if they believe the suspects might have information that might help avert an imminent threat to public safety. Obama...
  • Stupak: My Battle Over Abortion

    During the past few months, I often drew strength from a poem taped to my desk in Washington and framed on the wall of my home office in Menominee, Mich. “Bullfight critics ranked in rows,” it begins, “Crowd the enormous plaza full/But only one is there who knows/And he’s the man who fights the bull.”
  • Red Lobster Faring Just Fine in the Post-Spill World

    It remains unclear exactly how much damage BP's oil spill will do to the aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico, but if you're worried about one of the worst environmental disasters in decades cutting into your $11.99 "festival of shrimp," you can rest easy. It turns out some of the country's most popular seafood restaurants have placed more emphasis on the second syllable of "seafood" rather than the first....
  • FBI Surveillance of Times Square Suspect ‘Broke Down’

    Accused Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad spent more than three hours at New York's JFK airport unwatched by authorities while he waited to board a plane out of the country because FBI surveillance of him "broke down," says an administration official familiar with the matter. The FBI is not denying that the surveillance encountered problems.According to a timeline made available to Declassified by the administration official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, Shahzad arrived at JFK airport at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Monday and bought a ticket for a flight to Dubai, intending, as reported earlier by NEWSWEEK, to take a connecting flight from there to Pakistan. Authorities earlier in the day—perhaps as early as 12:30 p.m. Monday—had decided to put Shahzad on a U.S.-wide official "no-fly list" due to his status as a prime suspect in the bombing investigation. But because that list only slowly makes its way into reservations computers operated by private...
  • Taliban Claim About Times Square Now Considered ‘Plausible,’ Officials Say

    After it first surfaced on a newly created YouTube channel shortly after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first press conference about the discovery of a car bomb in Times Square, U.S. counterterrorism officials dismissed as empty propaganda a Pakistani Taliban message in which Qari Hussain Mehsud, allegedly the group's chief, said he takes "fully responsibility for the recent attack in the USA." But experts inside the government acknowledge that a Pakistani Taliban connection to the failed attack now appears increasingly "plausible" in light of revelations about the links to Pakistan of Faisal Shahzad, who federal authorities on Tuesday charged with several terrorist offenses related to the failed attack.  In a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Justice Department prosecutors reported that following his arrest late Monday night by border-control officers stationed at New York's JFK airport, Shahzad "stated that he had...
  • Washington Post Co. to Sell Newsweek

    The Washington Post Co. announced Wednesday that it has retained Allen & Company to explore the possible sale of NEWSWEEK magazine. The newsweekly, which has struggled in recent years, was launched in 1933 and purchased by The Washington Post Co. in 1961.
  • wri-losing-our-religion-tease

    Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity

    Conservative commentator S. E. Cupp says that the “liberal media” is trying to “overthrow God and silence Christian America for good.” She accuses The New York Times, CNN, and, ahem, NEWSWEEK, of long taking aim at the country’s dominant religion, and now they’re doing irreparable harm.
  • U.S. Officials Skeptical About Shahzad's Claims That He Acted Alone

    Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters Tuesday that accused New York City terror bomber Faisal Shahzad had provided "useful" intelligence to authorities after he was escorted off an airplane at John F. Kennedy Airport last night and questioned by FBI agents. ...
  • Times Square Suspect Nabbed Trying to Leave U.S., Likely for Pakistan

    FBI search a house in Bridgeport, Conn. where Faisal Shahzad lived. Federal and local authorities arrested Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old American citizen of Pakistani origin, shortly after midnight Tuesday in connection with the attempted car bombing Saturday night in New York's Times Square.
  • Times Square Bomber Made Relatively Clever Efforts to Cover Tracks

    While investigators and experts are saying that the bomb which authorities defused in an SUV at New York's Times Square on Saturday night was so crudely designed and constructed as to be almost idiotic, some investigators also say that one reason that the would-be bomber or bombers have not yet been arrested is that they made relatively sophisticated efforts to cover their tracks and conceal their identity (or identities)....
  • Cops Say Neither License Plates nor VIN on Bomb SUV Were Reported Stolen

    While someone tried to obliterate the unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from one or more parts of the SUV used in Saturday night's unsuccessful Times Square bombing, investigators have succeeded in recovering the VIN from the engine block of the Nissan Pathfinder, a senior law-enforcement official says. The official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a continuing investigation said the VIN—a unique multiple-letter and digit-identification code stamped at the factory by car manufacturers on the frame and other key parts of each car before it is released for retail sale—has led them to the bomb vehicle's registered owner, whose identity authorities are not making public for the moment....
  • Feds Feared Multi-City Attacks

    When federal and local law-enforcement authorities first learned that a car bomb had been discovered in New York's Times Square, one of their most urgent concerns was that there were bombs placed elsewhere and that the attempted attack as part of an elaborate 9/11-style series of assaults.As a result of discussions between domestic and foreign counterterrorism agencies, two federal officials told Declassified, one of the first steps the Department of Homeland Security took in the wake of the reported bombing attempt was to send out bulletins—more than one, according to one of the officials—alerting local law-enforcement agencies around the country about the failed Times Square attack, and telling them to be particularly vigilant in case it was only one of a series of similar simultaneous assaults that were going to take place across the country. It is the Homeland Security Department's responsibility to keep state and local authorities aware of federal thinking and...
  • Times Square Car Bomb Could Have Created 'Big Fireball'

      A car bomb installed in an SUV and driven into a parking spot near New York’s Times Square around dinner time on Saturday was of relatively primitive design and construction. But if it had exploded, it could have created a "big fireball" and spewed out "a lot of shrapnel" that might have killed or maimed many people visiting the busy Manhattan entertainment district, a senior law-enforcement official tells Declassified. The person or people who constructed and planted the device are currently unknown, and there was no advance warning, the official adds. The official, who asked for anonymity when discussing an ongoing investigation, says there are indications some trouble was taken to make it difficult for investigators to find the bombers. The vehicle in which the bomb was planted, a Nissan Pathfinder, carried Connecticut license plates. But quick checks of the plates showed that they did not match the bomb-carrying vehicle. When investigators examined the...
  • Brooklyn 'Computer Wiz' Accused of Conspiring With Al Qaeda Affiliate in Yemen

    A New York-born man described by a law-enforcement official as a computer expert is at the center of the latest investigation into Americans who have tried and, in some but not all cases, succeeded in hooking up with Al Qaeda elements based overseas. Wesam el-Hanafi, a 34-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native, is one of two men indicted by Federal authorities in Manhattan on Friday on charges of conspiring to provide material support, including computer expertise, to Al Qaeda—more specifically to Yemen-based elements of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a spinoff of the now Pakistan-based terror network founded by Osama bin Laden.  A law-enforcement official familiar with the investigation, who asked for anonymity when discussing an ongoing case, says investigators viewed el-Hanafi as a "computer wiz" who connected with two significant, but as yet unidentified Al Qaeda operatives during a trip to Yemen in February 2008. The feds say that on that trip, el-Hanafi swore allegiance...
  • The White House Drug Czar's Diminished Status

    These have been tough times for White House drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske. After spending much of his first year in office crafting a new anti-drug strategy, he had hoped to unveil it two months ago with President Obama. But Kerlikowske couldn't get on Obama's schedule. When he pressed, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed him to Vice President Joe Biden, say two Kerlikowske advisers who asked not to be identified talking about an internal matter. But after agreeing to a joint announcement, Biden had to cancel at the last minute when the health-care bill landed on the president's desk. Appearing before a House subcommittee recently, Kerlikowske got hammered for not having yet produced the drug-control strategy that his office was charged with releasing by last Feb. 1....
  • Arizona Needs Homeland Security's OK to Deport

    Amid the outrage about Arizona's strict new immigration law—which calls for the pursuit, arrest, and deportation of illegal aliens—a pivotal question remains: how will the Obama administration respond? Only the feds can deport a person, which means that Arizona will need Department of Homeland Security cooperation to carry out local law. But don't bet on the state getting it. A DHS spokesperson says the issue is under "review." But two administration officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal DHS matters, tell NEWSWEEK the department has already signaled to Arizona police that it will most likely detain and deport only violent criminals. Everyone else will get a written notice requesting that they appear for a future hearing—warnings that some immigration officers call "run letters" because recipients so rarely show up. Still, it's not clear that this tack will deter similar bills in other states: Republicans in Texas, Colorado, and...
  • France Girds Itself for Pension Reform

    As the debt-ridden Greek government remains mired in a fight to cut pension benefits and raise the retirement age, Europe's next pension-reform battle is already looming to the west. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is bringing pension reform to the fore of his agenda—but the issue could end up being his Waterloo. It's his most important battle, at the worst time, but it can't wait. Sarkozy's current approval ratings, about 30 percent, have never been lower, and midterm elections have galvanized his rivals. Meanwhile, France's powerful unions are intent on keeping the country's generous social safety nets in place, pointing to evidence that they helped cushion the French from the worldwide financial crisis. But the truth is that the economic downturn has accelerated France's pension crisis exponentially, and the French way of life is more unsustainable than ever. Scary scenarios outlined only three years ago forecasting a €24.8 billion pension...
  • A Social Safety Net Saves Jobs In Rhode Island

    With unemployment lingering near 10 percent, both political parties might consider a jobs plan that keeps people working in the first place. Popular in Europe, "work-share" programs encourage struggling firms to shave hours instead of people—which, for a 100-person company, might mean a four-day workweek for all rather than pink slips for some. Since the government covers about half the lost wages, the idea is popular with workers (who maintain job security) and companies (which save on rehiring costs) alike. ...