FBI knew Okla. bombing was possible

WASHINGTON

Two federal law enforcement agencies had information before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing suggesting that white supremacists living nearby were considering an attack on government buildings, but the intelligence was never passed on to federal officials in the state, documents and interviews show.

FBI headquarters officials in Washington were so concerned that white separatists at the Elohim City compound in Muldrow, Okla., might lash out on April 19, 1995 – the day Timothy McVeigh did choose – that a month earlier they questioned a reformed white supremacist familiar with an earlier plot to bomb the same Alfred P. Murrah federal building McVeigh selected.

“I think their only real concern back then was Elohim City,” said Kerry Noble, the witness questioned by the FBI on March 28, 1995 – just a few weeks before McVeigh detonated a truck bomb outside the building and killed more than 160 people.

Noble told The Associated Press that his FBI questioners appeared particularly concerned about what Elohim City members might do on April 19 because one of their heroes, Wayne Snell, was being executed that day and another, James Ellison, was returning to Oklahoma after ending parole in Florida.

FBI officials confirmed Noble’s account, including concerns the group at Elohim City might strike on April 19.

South Korea seeks ‘continued cooperation’

SEOUL, South Korea

President Kim Dae-jung is asking for cooperation from Europe to help resolve the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, while China is rejecting a request from the United States to get more involved.

Kim said yesterday he wants “continued cooperation” from the European Union. EU chief Javier Solana, in Seoul for talks, said the union can help faciliate U.S.-North Korean talks – but he said the two adversaries must negotiate directly.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said Washington and Pyongyang must resolve the dispute on their own. China is a longtime ally of North Korea.

“Although it touches upon regional security and nuclear proliferation, the key to resolving this issue is the resumption of dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea,” Zhang said in Beijing.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has sought greater Chinese involvement because of the issues of regional security. He has said North Korea should not be allowed to dictate terms of talks, and negotiations should be in a “multilateral setting.”

Shuttle crash bigger than anticipated

SPACE CENTER, Houston

The head of the space shuttle inquiry said yesterday he has the best investigators in the country to figure out what caused the Columbia crash and is confident the mystery will be solved.

But one of those experts cautioned the scope of the disaster is the biggest any of them has ever seen.

“Looking at the complexity of this, it is huge. It is one of the biggest debris fields that I think any of us have ever seen,” said Navy Rear Adm. Stephen Turcotte, who as commander of the Naval Safety Center is responsible for investigating every aviation mishap in the Navy and Marine Corps.

Thousands of pieces of debris have been found in a 500-mile area across Louisiana and Texas.

The search is expected to take at least several more weeks.

Democrats threaten to filibuster Estrada

WASHINGTON

Senate Democrats said yesterday they will filibuster Miguel Estrada’s nomination to the federal appeals bench until he reveals more of his judicial thinking.

President Bush called the move “shameful politics.”

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle accused Estrada of stonewalling Democrats last year when they questioned him about his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

“Every nominee who comes before the Senate has the obligation to be forthcoming with information about his position, with information about his record,” said Daschle (D-S.D.).

“Until he does, we don’t believe that it is in the Senate’s best interest to allow this confirmation to go forward.”

Study brings hope for premature babies

CHICAGO

Very small premature babies born with brain damage are not necessarily doomed to below-normal intelligence after all, according to a surprising new study that found that many youngsters’ IQ scores improve over time.

Children born extremely prematurely run the risk of a variety of neurological problems, ranging from cerebral palsy, retardation and vision trouble to more subtle learning and behavior difficulties.

But the study found that many youngsters considered borderline retarded make up for lost ground and end up scoring in the nearly normal IQ range by age 8.

The findings are surprising because previous research has found long-term consequences in very small preemies and because the conventional wisdom says that IQ does not change – at least in people born at normal weight.

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