News Briefs


Iraqis confirm arrests

BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials confirmed Thursday a wave of arrests in what appeared to be a major internal crackdown inside the nation's security apparatus. But the officials could agree on few other facts, from the number detained to the seriousness of the allegations. At a news conference, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told reporters that 23 officials from the Interior Ministry had been arrested in recent days, many for being affiliated with Al Awda, or The Return, a descendant of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which is now banned. But Khalaf sought to discredit the most serious of the allegations made earlier by Iraqi officials, saying there was no evidence that the suspects were in the early stages of planning a coup.

Blackwater radio logs revealing

WASHINGTON — Radio logs from a deadly 2007 shooting in Baghdad cast doubt on U.S. government claims that Blackwater Worldwide security guards were unprovoked when they killed 14 Iraqi civilians. The transcripts of Blackwater radio reports describe a hectic eight minutes in which the guards repeatedly reported incoming gunfire from insurgents and Iraqi police. Five guards face manslaughter and weapons charges for their roles in the shootings. A sixth has pleaded guilty. Prosecutors said the men unleashed a gruesome attack on unarmed Iraqis, including women, children and people trying to escape. But the radio logs from the Sept. 16, 2007 shooting suggest otherwise. Copies of the logs were turned over to prosecutors by Blackwater.


Obama defends Warren choice

CHICAGO — Calling on Americans to "come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues," President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday defended his choice of conservative evangelical Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, a choice that had angered supporters of Obama who see the minister as intolerant to gays. "We're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common," Obama said during a Chicago news conference. He noted that veteran civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, would also speak at the inauguration. Warren is known for The Purpose Driven Life and other books.

Herald-Leader wire services