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Agent testifies on key Padilla document

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 16, 2007


MIAMI

The U.S. government obtained a crucial piece of evidence for its terror conspiracy case against Jose Padilla from a mound of documents dropped off at a secret CIA location in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by a tribal leader's driver, a covert agent testified Tuesday. The CIA operative - who identified himself under oath as Tom Langston - did not name the tribal leader, the truck driver or the area where the material was seized. The driver, he said, told him it had come from an office used by Islamic militants who fled Kandahar during the U.S. invasion in December 2001. The document in question is Padilla's alleged application to undergo al-Qaida training, which prosecutors hope will link the 36-year-old former Chicago gang member and his two co-defendants to the Islamic terror network headed by Osama bin Laden. Langston was allowed to testify in disguise and use an alias.

WASHINGTON

Quarantined hogs cleared for release

A person could consume 800 pounds of meat in a single day from animals that ate feed made with tainted pet food before having any health effects from the toxins in that pet food, government scientists said Tuesday. "Clearly that is a very unlikely situation, " said David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection at the Food and Drug Administration. Reassured by that margin of safety, Acheson and other officials announced that all 56, 000 hogs that have been quarantined for weeks because their feed was found to have been supplemented with melamine-tainted pet food will now be released for slaughter and marketing. The new calculation resulted in a narrower - but still comfortable - safety margin.

WASHINGTON

Gonzales points to ex-deputy's role

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday he relied heavily on his deputy to oversee the firings of U.S. attorneys. Gonzales' comments came the day after Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said he would step down by the end of summer, a decision that people familiar with his plans said was hastened by the controversy over last year's firings of eight prosecutors. "At the end of the day, the recommendations reflected the views of the deputy attorney general. He signed off on the names, " Gonzales said. "The one person I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys." McNulty declined to respond.

DENVER

2 presumed dead in flash floods

Divers searched the South Platte River Tuesday for a 2-year-old boy swept away in his stroller and a young man who disappeared in flash flooding during a sudden thunderstorm. Both were presumed dead, authorities said. The boy's mother had been out for a stroll with her son Monday evening along a bike path that follows the river downtown. A thunderstorm developed quickly, sending a torrent of water down the river. The flood knocked the woman down and tore the stroller, with the boy inside, from her hands, Fire Department spokesman Phil Champagne said. About 8 miles away, a police officer jumped into a creek to try to rescue a teenager or young man but could not reach him, fire spokeswoman Heather Green said.