WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court held Friday that the Central Intelligence Agency must disclose, at least to a judge, a description of its records on drone strikes in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The 19-page opinion by Judge Merrick B. Garland rejected an effort by the Obama administration to keep secret any aspect of the CIA's interest in the use of drone strikes to kill terrorism suspects abroad.
It does not necessarily mean the contents of any of those records will ever be made public, and it stopped short of ordering the government to acknowledge publicly that the CIA actually uses drones to carry out "targeted killings" against specific terrorism suspects or groups of unknown people who appear to be militants in places like tribal Pakistan. The Obama administration continues to treat that fact as a classified secret, though it has been widely reported. But the ruling was a chink in that stonewall.
Judge Garland, a former Justice Department official, is considered a potential nominee to the Supreme Court.
GOP job training bill passes
WASHINGTON -- A divided House on Friday passed Republican legislation that would end or consolidate dozens of duplicative job training programs with the objective of making it easier for people to gain the skills they need in a changing job market. It's a goal that President Barack Obama says he shares while disagreeing with the way the GOP would do it. The bill also would increase employers' influence in who gets job training grants.
While there is widespread agreement that current federal job training programs are inefficient and overlapping, Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the bill, saying they were locked out of the bill-writing process and that the bill would eliminate programs tailored to serve veterans, the disabled, ex-prisoners and other underserved populations. Democrats also said giving employers more power over programs came at the expense of unions, community colleges and other stakeholders.
The vote was 215-202, sending the bill to the Senate, where the Democratic majority is likely to take a different approach to job training reform.
Bill limits abortions
BISMARCK, N.D. -- Little more than a week after Arkansas adopted the country's most stringent abortion limits, banning the procedure at 12 weeks of pregnancy, the North Dakota Legislature on Friday passed an even more restrictive bill that would ban most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
The Legislature, which is dominated by Republicans, also passed a second measure that would ban abortions sought because of a genetic abnormality or to select the sex of the child.
Both bills must be signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, to become law. As of Friday afternoon, the governor had not said whether he would do so.
Hacking incident at Reuters
LOS ANGELES -- News agency Reuters has suspended a deputy social media editor after he was indicted on federal charges of conspiring with the hacking group Anonymous to breach a Tribune Co. website, changing a Los Angeles Times online story.
Reuters spokesman David Girardin told The Associated Press on Friday in an email that Matthew Keys was suspended on Thursday with pay. He did not elaborate.
Mr. Keys, 26, was charged Thursday with three hacking-related counts in the December 2010 incident. The hack appeared on a news story on the website of the Los Angeles Times, owned by the Tribune Co.
College adopts fracking plan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee faced protests on Friday over its proposal to let a private company drill for natural gas across a forest controlled by the university.
Environmentalists say opening the Cumberland Forest in eastern Tennessee to hydraulic fracturing, a process known as "fracking," could harm wildlife and scenery on the 8,000-acre tract of state-owned land.
But the university says it would create a rare, controlled environment in which experts could study the environmental impact of the controversial drilling technique, while also generating revenue to finance research.
The State Building Commission voted unanimously Friday to approve the proposal to open the site up for bidding.