Nation Digest: 9/11 defendants to plead not guilty

Monday, November 23, 2009


Sept. 11 defendants to plead not guilty

The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, an attorney for one of the defendants said Sunday.

Scott Fenstermaker, who is representing Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but "would explain what happened and why they did it." The Justice Department announced earlier this month that Ali and four other men will face a civilian federal trial just blocks from the site of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York.

Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, is a nephew of professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain "their assessment of American foreign policy," Fenstermaker said. "Their assessment is negative," he said.

Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has not spoken with the others but said the men have discussed the trial among themselves.

Fenstermaker was first quoted in the New York Times in Sunday's editions.

-- Associated Press


Patrick Kennedy told to forgo Communion

The Roman Catholic bishop of Rhode Island says he asked Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) to stop receiving Holy Communion in 2007 because of the lawmaker's support for abortion rights.

That revelation Sunday proved an ugly climax to a simmering feud between Kennedy and his staunch critic, Bishop Thomas Tobin.

Kennedy told the Providence Journal in an article published Sunday that Tobin "instructed" him not to receive Communion because of his stance on abortion rights. Kennedy said Tobin told diocesan priests not to give him Communion.

Tobin says that he asked Kennedy to stop receiving Communion, but that he never instructed his priests not to give Kennedy the sacrament.

The two men have clashed over abortion restrictions in a proposed overhaul of the nation's health-care system.

-- Associated Press

Daughter born while father is in orbit: Astronaut Randolph Bresnik jubilantly welcomed his new daughter into the world Sunday as he floated 220 miles above it. Abigail Mae Bresnik was born as her father circled Earth on his first space shuttle mission, just hours after his first spacewalk. It was only the second time in history that a NASA astronaut was in orbit instead of the delivery room. "At 11:04 last night, Abigail Mae Bresnik joined the NASA family," Bresnik announced Sunday morning from the linked space shuttle Atlantis and international space station. "Mama and baby are doing very well." It was the second child for Randolph and Rebecca Bresnik, who adopted son Wyatt, 3, from Ukraine last year.

NRC investigating Three Mile Island: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is sending investigators to the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in central Pennsylvania after a small amount of radiation was detected there. About 150 employees were sent home Saturday afternoon after the radiation was detected. Officials say there is no public health risk. Exelon Nuclear spokeswoman Beth Archer says investigators are searching for a cause of the release. Tests showed the contamination was confined to surfaces inside the building. The unit has been shut down for refueling and maintenance since Oct. 26. A partial meltdown occurred in Three Mile Island's Unit 2 reactor in March 1979.

Lethal-injection creator backs one-drug plan: The man who developed the three-drug lethal injection cocktail in the United States says it does not matter whether three drugs are used or one, as his home state of Ohio has proposed. Jay Chapman says he never gave much thought to the number of drugs used, only that they work efficiently. He says Ohio's plan to adopt a one-drug protocol fits that goal.

-- From news services

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