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tschmoo
5 years ago
Bomber in Plot on U.S. Airliner Is Said to Be a Double Agent
The suicide bomber dispatched by the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda last month to blow up a United States-bound airliner was actually an intelligence agent for Saudi Arabia who infiltrated the terrorist group and volunteered for the mission, American and foreign officials said Tuesday. In an extraordinary intelligence coup, the double agent left Yemen last month, traveling by way of the United Arab Emirates, and delivered both the innovative bomb designed for his aviation attack and inside information on the group’s leaders, locations, methods and plans to the Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi intelligence and allied foreign intelligence agencies. Officials said the agent, whose identity they would not disclose, works for the Saudi intelligence service, which has cooperated closely with the C.I.A. for several years against the terrorist group in Yemen. He operated in Yemen with the full knowledge of the C.I.A. but not under its direct supervision, the officials said. After spending weeks at the center of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate, the intelligence agent provided critical information that permitted the C.I.A. to direct the drone strike on Sunday that killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, the group’s external operations director and a suspect in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, an American destroyer, in Yemen in 2000. He also handed over the bomb, designed by the group’s top explosives expert to be undetectable at airport security checks, to the F.B.I., which is analyzing its properties at its laboratory at Quantico, Va. The agent is now safe in Saudi Arabia, officials said. The bombing plot was kept secret for weeks by the C.I.A. and other agencies because they feared retaliation against the agent and his family — not, as some commentators have suggested, because the Obama administration wanted to schedule an announcement of the foiled plot, American officials said. Officials said Tuesday night that the risk to the agent and his relatives had now been “mitigated,” evidently by moving both him and his family to safe locations.

tschmoo
5 years ago
Germany Warns France It Won't Fund New Socialist Leader's Promise To End Austerity
François Hollande’s election as French president was greeted by jitters on finance markets and a dour front in Berlin where ruling conservatives warned the Socialist that Germans would not pay for his promises of an end to austerity. With investors spooked by Greek voters’ rejection of parties which slashed budgets to secure an EU/IMF bailout, festivities in Paris after Hollande defeated centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday soon gave way to a grim sense of getting down to the business of dealing with Europe’s deep economic crisis. Sarkozy, 57, congratulated Hollande on the win and signalled that he intends to step back from frontline politics. Official final results of Sunday’s second round run-off showed that Hollande had won 51.62% of the vote to Sarkozy’s 48.38. Hollande, also 57, spent the day closeted with aides who said they reviewed how he may pitch “the priority for growth in Europe” to Chancellor Angela Merkel. They will meet for the first time next week in Berlin to relaunch the Franco-German partnership that lies at the heart of the European Union and the euro currency. “I must prepare myself,” said Hollande, who has never been a minister and is little known outside France. “I said that I was ready and now I must make sure I am, completely.” His campaign chief Pierre Moscovici said the president-elect discussed how to present his plan to pull troops out of Afghanistan this year, as well as the economic growth strategy.

tschmoo
5 years ago
Political Tumult in Greece After Uncertain Elections
Greece teetered on the verge of political chaos on Monday, with few signs that any party could form a governing coalition and the prospect of the nation leaving the euro zone looming increasingly large. Just a day after coming in a weak first in its worst showing ever in national elections, the center-right New Democracy party quickly announced on Monday that it had failed to form a governing majority. While a left-wing, anti-austerity party that placed second will now have a chance to form a coalition, many analysts say Greece is unlikely to emerge from its current crisis with a government either capable or willing to carry out the strict budget-cutting mandates of its foreign lenders. The Greek election and ensuing political tumult showed that “it’s not clear how they can survive within the euro over the longer term,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard and a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. That could have grave implications for the rest of Europe. “A Greek exit,” Mr. Rogoff said, “would underscore that there’s no realistic long-term plan for Europe, and it would lead to a chaotic endgame for the rest of the euro zone.” On Sunday, the traditionally dominant parties, New Democracy and the Socialists, which both backed Greece’s latest loan agreement with its foreign creditors, failed to get enough votes for a majority in Parliament. Several smaller parties, whose fortunes rose on a rich harvest of protest votes, refused to join in a coalition with the larger parties. “We did everything we could but it just wasn’t possible,” the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, said in a televised statement after failing to secure support from other political parties. Greek law gives the front-runner three days to form a government before the baton is passed to the runner-up.

tschmoo
5 years ago
If Pro Is the Opposite Of Con, What's The Opposite Of Progress?
With a polarized Congress already on the defensive, President Obama on Tuesday will outline a five-point “to do” list for lawmakers that packages job creation and mortgage relief ideas he has proposed before, administration officials say. Mr. Obama will present the election-year list during a visit to a university science complex in Albany. The components of his challenge to Congress — and to the Republican-led House in particular — will be a feature of his appearances throughout the spring, aides said. For example, while in Reno, Nev., during a trip West later this week mostly to raise campaign money, Mr. Obama will push one of the proposals, to allow more families who are current on their mortgages to refinance at lower interest rates. Nevada, a swing state critical to his re-election, is among the places hit hardest by the housing bust. The president’s pitch on Tuesday, at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York, will underscore the obstructions he has faced from Republicans, and at a time when critics across the political spectrum are assailing a “do-nothing Congress.” But Mr. Obama is at some risk of seeming impotent in the face of his opposition, and House Republicans complain that their own ideas have languished in the Democratic-controlled Senate. “I don’t think Congress will act because the president says Congress must act,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Monday, without describing the proposals Mr. Obama would push. “I think the Congress will act because the people that sent them here are insisting that they act.”