In Brief | Nation & World 9-28-13


Kenyan military caused mall collapse, government urges patience with probe

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s military caused the collapse of three floors of the Westgate Mall in the deadly terrorist siege, a top-ranking official disclosed Friday, while the government urged patience with the pace of an investigation that has left key questions unanswered.

Seven days after 67 people were killed in the attack on the upscale shopping center, there is still no clear word on the fate of dozens who have been reported missing and no details on the terrorists who carried it out.

The account of the roof collapse raises the possibility that the military may have caused the death of hostages in its rescue attempt. An undisclosed number of people are feared to be buried in the rubble.

The official said autopsies will be conducted on any bodies found to determine the cause of death — from the militants or the structural collapse. The high-ranking government official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge sensitive information.

The official also confirmed that Kenyan troops fired rocket-propelled grenades inside the mall, but would not say what caused the floors to collapse, if the action was intentional, or if it was an accident.

NSA watchdog details 12 incidents of misuse of surveillance data

WASHINGTON — Some workers at the National Security Agency intentionally misused the government’s secret surveillance systems at least 12 times over the past decade, including instances when they spied on spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, according to embarrassing new details disclosed by the agency’s inspector general. In nearly every case, the workers were allowed to retire before they could be punished.

In addition to the 12 historical cases, authorities are investigating two other suspected violations and reviewing a third allegation for possible investigation, the inspector general, George Ellard, told Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in a letter released late Thursday.

Senior national security officials and some U.S. lawmakers have said such cases were exceedingly rare considering the breadth of the NSA’s surveillance programs and reflect how seriously the government monitors use of its systems for potential abuses.

“Where (a media report) says we’re sweeping up the communications of civilians overseas that aren’t targets of collection systems is wrong,” the NSA’s director, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, told senators Thursday. “If our folks do that, we hold them accountable.”

At least six times the cases were reported to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, Ellard’s letter said. In some cases, U.S. prosecutors declined to take action but in nearly every case the employees were allowed to retire without punishment.

NJ judge rules state must allow gay couples to marry, Gov. Christie plans to appeal

New Jersey is unconstitutionally denying federal benefits to same-sex couples and must allow gay couples to marry, a judge ruled Friday.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson sided almost entirely with a group of same-sex couples and gay rights groups who sued the state in July, days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of a law that blocked the federal government from granting benefits to gay couples.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican in the midst of a re-election campaign and a possible presidential contender, said through a spokesman Friday he plans to appeal the decision, which he believes should be determined by a popular vote.

Jacobson made the ruling effective Oct. 21, giving Christie time to appeal and likely ask a court to delay implementation of her order.

By wire sources