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News Wrap: Fort Hood Suspect to Be Tried in Military Court, Face Death Penalty

July 6, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama announced today he will begin sending condolence letters to families of soldiers who commit suicide in combat zones. The decision reversed a policy that’s been in place for years. Military suicides have risen during the long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his statement today, the president said, “These Americans served our nation bravely. They didn’t die because they were weak.”

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has ordered the military to stop enforcing its ban on gays serving openly. Congress repealed the policy last December, but it won’t take full effect until the president certifies that the armed services are ready for the transition. It was unclear what effect today’s appeals court ruling will have on that timetable.

The U.S. capture of a Somali suspect triggered a new dispute today over the handling of terror cases. The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was captured in April and held on a U.S. warship, where intelligence officials questioned him for two months. Warsame was then flown to New York to stand trial in federal court.

But Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said today he should have been sent to Guantanamo and a military tribunal.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky. minority leader: The administration has purposefully imported a terrorist into the U.S. and is providing him all of the rights of a U.S. citizen in court. This ideological rigidity being displayed by the administration is harming the national security of the United States of America.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In turn, the Senate’s number-two Democrat, Dick Durbin, defended the president’s actions. He said Mr. Obama is doing exactly what his predecessor, President Bush, did repeatedly.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, D-Ill. majority whip: To come here and second-guess the president because he’s held a man for two months in military interrogation and now is being prosecuted in our criminal courts is totally unfair — unfair because the same standard wasn’t applied to the Republican president, who tried hundreds of would-be terrorists, accused terrorists in our criminal courts successfully.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Administration officials said, once Warsame was handed over to the FBI, he was read his Miranda rights, and the interrogations started over from scratch. What he said from that point on can be used in court.

The U.S. Army psychiatrist charged in the deadly Fort Hood shootings will be tried in a military court and he will be subject to the death penalty. That word came today from the commanding general at the Texas military post. Major Nidal Hasan is charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder in the November 2009 shootings. He is being held in a civilian jail. Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down after police shot him during the attack.

The new head of the International Monetary Fund pledged today to diversify the organization and give developing nations more of a voice. Christine Lagarde had been the French finance minister, and she is the first woman to run the IMF since its founding in 1945.

She spoke today in Washington.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, International Monetary Fund: Diversity is multifaceted. It’s not just about gender, color, religion, sexual preferences, but it’s also about culture. It’s also about academic background. And I think that we need to draw on the resources and the intellect developed in many corners of the world, because that will make us better and richer.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Lagarde replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after being accused of sex crimes in New York. He has now been released from home — house arrest, amid rising questions about the case against him. Prosecutors and defense attorneys met today to discuss what happens next.

Wall Street managed new gains, despite word of slower growth in the service sector. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 56 points to close at 12,626. The Nasdaq rose eight points to close at 2,834.

They were still cleaning up in Phoenix, Ariz. today, after one of the largest dust storms in the region’s history. Last night, winds of 60 miles an hour whipped up a massive wall of dust nearly two miles high and 100 miles wide. The dust storm coated cars and buildings, severely reduced visibility and grounded flights for hours. It was spawned from an earlier storm near Tucson.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.