White House asks panel to meet again with Rice

WASHINGTON -- The White House on Thursday asked the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to give national security adviser Condoleezza Rice another opportunity to talk privately with panel members. The White House said, in a letter to the commission chairman and vice chairman from counsel Alberto Gonzales, that such a session would allow her to clear up "a number of mischaracterizations of Dr. Rice's statements and positions." Rice met privately with the commission, formally the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, for about four hours on Feb. 7.

Army beefs up suicide prevention effort in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The U.S. military has intensified its suicide prevention efforts here as a result of an investigation into the self-inflicted deaths of 23 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait last year, the U.S. Army said Thursday. The Army is requiring all soldiers to take a suicide prevention class within three months of arriving in Iraq or Kuwait, said an Army mental health expert. Previously, soldiers had to take the class within a year. The Army's four combat stress teams in Iraq have also begun closely monitoring suicide attempts and visiting U.S. military units that suffer deadly attacks, the expert said.

Spanish police arrest five more in bombings

MADRID, Spain -- Spanish police arrested five more suspects for the March 11 commuter train bombings, court officials said Thursday, bringing to 18 the number of people in custody for the attack against one of the closest U.S. allies in the Iraqi war. Two suspects were arrested Thursday in the Madrid area, the officials said. Three others, identified as Moroccans, were arrested Wednesday in the Madrid region and in Ugena, 20 miles south of the capital. The suspects' homes were being searched for evidence. All will be questioned on Monday at the national court.

Rancher gives testimony in Terry Nichols trial

McALESTER, Okla. -- A rancher who once employed bombing conspirator Terry Nichols testified Thursday that Nichols railed about the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and said citizens should overthrow the government. Tim Donahue, whose family ranch and farm is near Marion, Kan., said Nichols worked as a farmhand between March and September 1994, and seemed upset when he discussed the government siege in April 1993. Prosecutors in Nichols' state murder trial believe the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building two years later was a plot to avenge that siege. The bombing killed 168 people. Nichols is already serving a life prison sentence for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers in the bombing. The state charges are for the other victims.

-- From wire reports