World briefs 2/21/07

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

British PM to announce troop withdrawal

LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce today a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, the BBC reported. Blair will also tell the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance before it that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. said, quoting government officials who weren't further identified.

Audit: Anti-terror Justice statistics skewed

WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors counted immigration violations, marriage fraud and drug trafficking among anti-terror cases in the four years after 9-11 even though no evidence linked them to terror activity, a Justice Department audit said Tuesday. Overall, nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics on investigations, referrals and cases examined by department inspector general Glenn A. Fine were either diminished or inflated. Only two of 26 sets of department data reported between 2001 and 2005 were accurate, the audit found.

Closing arguments given in Libby leak trial

WASHINGTON -- Prosecutors told jurors Tuesday that former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby concocted an implausible story in the CIA leak case, while defense attorneys said it would be unfair to convict Libby in a case with so many memory failures. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Libby told authorities that he learned about Plame from Cheney, forgot about it, then learned it again a month later from NBC reporter Tim Russert. In closing arguments of the monthlong trial, prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said it's hard to believe that Libby would forget about Plame since he was eagerly trying to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had accused the Bush administration of doctoring prewar intelligence on Iraq.

California judge throws out prison transfer plan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A judge Tuesday threw out Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to transfer thousands of inmates to other states to relieve prison overcrowding. Schwarzenegger said he would immediately appeal, saying dangerous convicts might otherwise have to be released early. The governor invoked emergency powers in October when he ordered the Corrections Department to send thousands of inmates to private prisons in other states. Two employee unions, including the one representing guards, filed lawsuits alleging the order violated state law.

Archaeologists unveil 3,000-year-old tombs

SAQQARA, Egypt -- Archaeologists unveiled the tombs Tuesday of a pharaonic butler and a scribe that have been buried for more than 3,000 years -- proof, they say, that Egypt's sands still have secrets to reveal. Although archaeologists have been exploring Egypt intensively for more than 150 years, some estimate only one-third of what lies underground in Saqqara, site of the country's most ancient pyramid and burial site of kings, has been uncovered.

-- From wire reports

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