- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007

Judge dismisses case against N.Y. Times

A federal judge yesterday dismissed a libel lawsuit filed against the New York Times by a former Army scientist once identified as a person of interest in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria dismissed the case a week after lawyers for the Times argued that Steven Hatfill should be considered a public figure under libel law, which makes it much more difficult for a public figure to win a judgment than a private citizen.

The judge did not explain his ruling in the order issued yesterday.

Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said the newspaper was pleased with the ruling. Mr. Hatfill’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Five persons were killed and 17 sickened by anthrax that had been mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The case remains unsolved.

Forest Service gets first female chief

Montana forester Gail Kimbell yesterday became the first woman to head the U.S. Forest Service. She succeeds retiring chief Dale Bosworth.

Miss Kimbell, who supervises national forests through northern Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas, was appointed to the position by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Miss Kimbell becomes the Forest Service’s 16th chief, responsible for overseeing 155 national forests, 30,000 employees and a $4 billion budget.

Panda cub makes debut

ATLANTA — The giant panda cub Mei Lan made her media debut yesterday, romping about a Zoo Atlanta exhibit area for a crowd of reporters and cameras while her mother munched on bamboo.

The 16-pound cub and her mother, Lun Lun, have been in seclusion since the cub’s birth on Sept. 6. Panda fans have been keeping up with the duo on the zoo Web site’s panda cam and live video feeds at the exhibit.

Rep. Norwood takes cancer chemotherapy

Rep. Charlie Norwood could be forced to miss work as he undergoes chemotherapy for cancer that has spread to his liver, his spokesman said yesterday.

When the Georgia Republican, 65, began treatments in early December, he said he hoped to be at full strength when the new Congress convened Jan. 4.

Spokesman John Stone said aides have been encouraging the lawmaker to focus more on his health and not on work, particularly when his vote won’t affect the outcome, as was the case this week.

Extended chemotherapy — complicated by fragile health from a 2004 lung transplant — has significantly weakened Mr. Norwood and left him spending some nights in a Northern Virginia hospital.

The seven-term Republican from Georgia said he is not considering a leave of absence.

Hearing halted in Marine’s case

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A court hearing for a Marine officer charged with assaulting three Iraqi men was halted yesterday after his lawyer accused government investigators of fabricating evidence in the case.

Attorney David Sheldon, who represents 2nd Lt. Nathan P. Phan, said military investigators altered statements given by other Marines about the purported assaults to include incriminating details.

A Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent assigned to the case disputed the accusations. “We do not put false information in statements,” Agent Kelly Garbo said in court.

The hearing’s investigating officer, Lt. Col. William N. Pigott, said he wanted to hear from the other agents who conducted the interviews and suspended the hearing until Tuesday so they could participate.

Lt. Phan, 26, has been charged with assaulting three men in the rural Iraqi town of Hamdania last April. The government purports that Lt. Phan put an unloaded pistol in one detainee’s mouth and beat or choked two others. Lt. Phan also has been charged with making a false official statement.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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