WASHINGTON — New York Congressman Anthony Weiner testily fended off questions Tuesday about the lewd photo sent from his Twitter account and has hired a lawyer to help him figure out how to respond.
Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold said the Democrat believes it was a prank but he’s retained a lawyer to advise him on what civil or criminal actions should be taken.
The photo, which showed a man’s bulging underpants, was posted on Friday and sent to a female college student in Seattle. It was quickly deleted, but a frenzy of coverage and comment ensued on blogs, cable news outlets and other media.
The colorful and sometimes combative congressman who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens was characteristically sharp tongued, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about it, and even calling one a “jackass” for interrupting him. He insisted that he wanted to move on from the incident, which was distracting from his work on Capitol Hill. But there was no sign the story, or the speculation about who may have been responsible for tweeting the photo, was fading.
Weiner failed in a 2005 bid for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York City, but he is still is widely considered a future contender for the office.
Plane returns after fistfight between passengers
WASHINGTON — Government and airline officials say a United Airlines plane with 144 people aboard returned to Washington-Dulles International Airport for an emergency landing escorted by two F-16 fighter jets after a fight broke out between passengers.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown says Flight 990 bound for Accra, Ghana, returned to Dulles in Chantilly, Virginia, just after midnight Sunday after a fistfight in the cabin.
Government officials confirmed that fighter jets were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
United spokesman Mike Trevino said Tuesday that the Boeing 767 dumped fuel as a safety precaution to lighten its weight on landing.
The Washington Post, which first reported the incident, reported that the fight began not long after takeoff when a passenger lowered his seat and a passenger behind him objected.
High court rules out damage claim against Ashcroft
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out damage claims against former Attorney General John Ashcroft over an American Muslim’s arrest, but four justices said the case raises serious questions about post-9/11 detentions under a federal law intended to make sure witnesses testify.
The justices were unanimous, 8-0, in holding that Ashcroft cannot be personally sued over his role in the arrest of Abdullah al-Kidd in 2003. The court sets a high bar for suing high-ranking officials, and all the justices agreed al-Kidd did not meet it, even though he was never charged with a crime or called to testify in the terrorism-related trial for which he ostensibly was needed.
Al-Kidd contended that his arrest under the material witness statute had a more sinister motive that violated his constitutional rights — federal authorities suspected him of ties to terrorism but lacked evidence that he committed or was planning a crime. And, he said, Ashcroft blessed the use of the law in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to take suspected terrorists off the street.
A five-justice majority absolved Ashcroft of any wrongdoing. “We hold … that Ashcroft did not violate al-Kidd’s Fourth Amendment rights,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in his majority opinion. The five justices in the majority on this aspect of the decision are all Republican appointees.
2 Iraqis charged in Ky. with terrorism plotting
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two Iraqi men living as refugees in Kentucky tried to send sniper rifles, Stinger missiles and money to al-Qaida operatives in their home country, and both boasted of using improvised explosives against American troops there before moving to the U.S., according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
Thirty-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan and 23-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, both of Bowling Green, were arrested last week after an investigation that began months after they arrived in the U.S. in 2009. Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States, and authorities said their weapons and money didn’t make it to Iraq because of a tightly controlled undercover investigation.
Alwan is charged with conspiracy to kill a United States national, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and knowingly transferring, possession or exporting a device designed or intended to launch or guide a rocket or missile.
The FBI said in an affidavit that Alwan told an informant that he took part in insurgent attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq using both improvised explosive devices and a sniper rifle, saying “lunch and dinner would be an American.” Court documents say Hammadi also told an informant he planted improvised explosives in Iraq.