- - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano says an Egyptian politician given a visa to visit the United States last month was vetted three times and not deemed a security threat.

Ms. Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that Hani Nour Eldin, a self-professed member of a banned Egyptian militant group, was cleared by the State Department before being granted a visa. She says he was vetted by the Homeland Security Department before being allowed into the country, and scrutinized a third time by the Secret Service before he was granted access to the White House.

The committee chairman, Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, says giving a visa to a member of a designated “foreign terrorist organization” without telling Congress may have violated federal law.

NEW JERSEY

Christie says he’s open to 2016 presidential bid

OCEAN CITY — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is open to running for president in four years, if the job is open.

The first-term Republican said he hopes fellow Republican Mitt Romney beats President Obama in November and seeks re-election in 2016. But if the presidency is open, Mr. Christie said he will “certainly think about it.”

Mr. Christie was asked Wednesday at a boardwalk stop in Ocean City about running for the top spot in the next election and replied, “If there’s an opportunity for me to serve in another capacity, and I think I have something to add to the mix, I don’t think I’d back away from it.”

STATE

Clinton wants Olympics to host Israeli memorial event

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling on the International Olympic Committee to commemorate the massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian gunmen at the Munich Games in 1972 with a moment of silence at the opening ceremony of this year’s games in London.

A senior State Department official said Wednesday that Mrs. Clinton wrote to committee President Jacques Rogge to ask the IOC to hold an “appropriate memorial event” in London for the victims.

A diplomatic source familiar with the letter said Mrs. Clinton urged the IOC to reverse its decision not to mark the 40th anniversary of the tragedy at Friday’s opening ceremony in London.

HOUSE

Official says terrorists focused on smaller plots

The head of the National Counterterrorism Center says al Qaeda isn’t as capable as it once was, but terrorists are focused on smaller, simpler plots against the United States.

Director Matthew G. Olsen told Congress that U.S. authorities also are worried about “homegrown violent extremists” who are influenced by surviving al Qaeda leaders.

In testimony prepared for a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Mr. Olsen said “lone actors or insular groups” pose the most serious homegrown threat.

SENATE

Republicans plan tour against defense cuts

Senate Republicans warning of the devastating impact from looming defense cuts will hit four presidential battleground states next week, ratcheting up the political pressure on President Obama over the reductions.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire announced Thursday that they will hold a series of town hall meetings in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire — states that are home to military installations and defense contracting jobs.

The three said in a statement they will “sound the alarm about the profound negative consequences of these cuts to our national security and economy. These communities … will bear the brunt of the defense sequestration cuts.”

Mr. McCain voted for the cuts last August; Mr. Graham and Mrs. Ayotte opposed them.

CAMPAIGN

Romney says weapons were acquired illegally

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday said many of the weapons obtained by the shooting suspect in Colorado were obtained illegally and that changing laws won’t prevent gun-related tragedies.

But the firearms that authorities say James Holmes used to kill 12 people in Aurora, Colo., were obtained legally.

“This person shouldn’t have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already. But he had them,” Mr. Romney told NBC News. “And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won’t.”

Mr. Holmes broke no laws when he purchased an assault-style rifle, a shotgun and Glock handgun, and he passed the required background checks. Mr. Holmes allegedly booby-trapped his apartment with explosives. It’s unclear if he obtained the materials illegally, but it’s against Colorado law to build an explosive device.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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