Nation Briefly

WASHINGTON – President Bush told a Washington audience Monday that he had declassified intelligence information in 2003 to help the American public understand the basis for statements the administration had made about Iraq before the start of the war.

“I wanted people to see the truth,” Bush said in response to a question from a member of the audience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “You’re not supposed to talk about classified information, and so I declassified the document. I thought it was important for people to get a better sense for why I was saying what I was saying in my speeches.”

Federal court pleadings last week disclosed that a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, testified that he had released portions of the secret National Intelligence Estimate to a New York Times reporter after being authorized to do so by Cheney and Bush in July 2003.

Phone-jammers called White House

Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and the Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show. The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who was recently convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 as the phone-jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down. The Republican Party said contacts involved routine election business and it was “preposterous” to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

Ban sought on fat-blocking pill

A private group, Public Citizen, asked the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to ban the prescription version of the fat-blocking drug orlistat, citing a link to what some scientists believe are precancerous lesions in the large intestine. The prescription version of orlistat has been sold by Roche since 1999 under the brand name Xenical.

RU-486 ruled out in one death

Health officials said Monday they have ruled out the abortion pill RU-486 in one of two recent deaths of women who had taken the drug. The second case, in which a woman showed symptoms of infection, remains under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration.

California: Probe to crash on moon

NASA plans to crash a space probe into the moon in January 2009, a collision so violent it will be visible on Earth through a telescope, the space agency said Monday at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field. NASA says the collision should create a hole about one-third the size of a football field and hurl a plume of debris into space. After the crash of the space probe, the mothership that released it will fly through the plume and look for traces of water, ice or vapor.

N.M.: Hunter once shot Cheney

Years before Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a lawyer during a Texas quail hunt in February, Cheney himself was on the receiving end of an errant shotgun blast. Carlsbad Mayor Bob Forrest said he doesn’t know for certain whether he or his twin brother, Dick Forrest, fired the shot during the hunting trip in the late 1990s. It accidentally pelted Cheney, who was then chief executive at Halliburton Co. “He said, ‘You guys watch where you’re shooting!’ He was very offended,” Forrest said.

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