Gonzales confirmed attorney general

Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation yesterday as attorney general despite Democratic accusations that he helped formulate White House policies that led to overseas prisoner abuse and was too beholden to President Bush to be the nation’s top law enforcement official.

The Senate voted 60-36 to put the first Hispanic ever into the job, with all of the “no” votes coming from Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Last week, 12 Democrats and Jeffords voted against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s confirmation.

Gonzales will replace John Ashcroft, who won more Democratic support four years ago despite contentious stances on a number of issues. Eight Democrats voted for Ashcroft, while six voted for Gonzales.


U.S. may sell fighter airccraft to Pakistan

A senior U.S. defense official said yesterday that Washington is considering an appeal from Pakistan for F-16 fighter aircraft.

U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith would not say whether the two sides were close to reaching any deal.

“It is an important issue, and it will be dealt with at the right time,” he told reporters in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near Islamabad.

Earlier, Feith took part in a meeting of the Pakistan-U.S. Defense Consultative Group. Defense Secretary Hamid Nawaz Khan led the Pakistani side in the talks.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terrorism. Washington recently agreed to sell $1.2 billion in weapons to Pakistan, but the deal doesn’t include the F-16 aircraft that Islamabad has long desired.

Pakistan struck a deal with the United States to buy two dozen fighter jets in the late 1980s, but the agreement was scrapped in the 1990s when Washington imposed sanctions on Islamabad over its nuclear weapons program.


Shiite clergy take lead in election counts

Iraqi officials yesterday released the first partial returns from national elections, showing a commanding lead by candidates backed by the Shiite Muslim clergy. Sunni insurgents unleashed a wave of attacks, killing at least 29 people, including two U.S. Marines and a dozen Iraqi army recruits.

Meanwhile, election officials said strict security measures may have deprived many Iraqis in the Mosul area and surrounding Ninevah province of their right to vote. The admission is likely to fuel complaints by Iraq’s minority Sunni Arabs, who make up the heart of the insurgency, that they were not represented in the vote.


Journalists’ notes from Watergate now available

While the identity of “Deep Throat” is still a well-guarded secret, the first installment of notes and quotes scribbled by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein while covering the Watergate scandal are now available to the public.

“We told the story from our perspective as well as we could. Other people should have a look at the stuff,” Bernstein said yesterday at the University of Texas’s Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, which purchased the materials for $5 million in 2003.

Under a deal with the reporters, the Ransom Center is responsible for cataloguing and preparing the documents for public release. They will be made public for the first time Friday.

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