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Attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales vowed on Thursday to abide by international treaties on prisoner treatment if confirmed, but Senate critics asserted that policies he supported led to the torture of terrorism detainees and protested his closeness to President Bush. As Gonzales' confirmation hearing got under way, the White House refused to provide senators with additional documents about the White House counsel's role in the decision to allow aggressive interrogations of terrorism detainees.

The State Department announced Wednesday that the US death toll from the Asian tsunami has reached 36, but the whereabouts of nearly 3,000 other Americans have not been determined. Thus far the State Department has been able to resolve about 18,000 inquiries. In responding to the disaster, President Bush made a personal contribution of $10,000, the White House confirmed, and efforts are moving ahead to present a US plan for a global tsunami warning system at a UN conference later this month.

In a memo to senior Pentagon officials, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, commander of the Army Reserve, said the Reserve "is rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force," The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. Helmly laid out his concerns about various policies that he believes have put a strain on the 200,000 troops, including that of extending reservists' tours in war zones and recalling them after their return to civilian life.

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Andrea Yates, the Houston mother serving a life sentence for drowning her five children in 2001, had her murder convictions overturned by the First Court of Appeals in Texas on Thursday because of flawed testimony by the state's expert psychiatric witness. The prosecution plans to seek a rehearing by the same panel.

Federal authorities are looking for a man using a Middle Eastern name and possibly bogus construction credentials to try to purchase large quantities of an explosive ingredient used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said there was no indication that terrorism was involved.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, a marine charged with desertion in Iraq after mysteriously disappearing from his post, has again been declared a deserter - this time for his failure to return to duty at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Hassoun was expected back on base by Tuesday after a holiday leave period. Hassoun, who was not being held in custody, had his latest military court hearing shortly before the Christmas break.

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