USA

CBS named Richard Thornburgh, a former US Attorney General and Republican governor of Pennsylvania, and Louis Boccardi, retired chief executive of the Associated Press, to conduct an independent investigation into the network's discredited report on President Bush's Air National Guard service. Boccardi said he expects the review of the controversial and politically charged "60 Minutes II" report, which CBS could not authenticate, to be "a hornets' nest."

Sources close to the sentencing hearing for Airman Ahmad al Halabi, a Muslim interpreter accused of spying at the Guantánamo Bay military base in Cuba, expected him to walk free after Thursday's proceeding at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., The Los Angeles Times reported. Halabi, a naturalized US citizen born in Syria, agreed to acknowledge guilt in what his lawyer called four "minor infractions," but not to charges of espionage, which led to his 295-day detainment. He admitted to disobeying orders, lying, and misconduct. As part of the deal with prosecutors Wednesday, Halabi will undergo a debriefing by military interrogators. The plea agreement marked the third time this year the military has dropped serious charges against servicemen stationed at Guantánamo Bay.

Undercover investigators were able to slip explosives and weapons past security screeners at 15 US airports during the second half of 2003, USA Today reported Thursday. The findings, contained in a Department of Homeland Security report to Congress, blamed the problem on poor training and management, as well as on a need for better equipment and technology.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California, vetoed a bill that would have allowed up to 2 million illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses. The governor said the measure did not address his security concerns and lacked a key provision he'd insisted on - a special identifying mark on licenses that supporters of the bill said would create a "scarlet letter" stigma for those holding them.

The Senate overwhelmingly voted to confirm US Rep. Porter Goss (R) of Florida as Director of Central Intelligence, despite reservations by some Democrats about his ability to act independently. Goss will take over an intelligence community that faces such serious challenges to its credibility and effectiveness that the post he assumes has an uncertain future.

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