Army unveils plans

for global realignment

WASHINGTON - President Bush has approved what officials are describing as the most significant realignment of the Army since World War II, signing off on a plan that will keep more troops than previously envisioned in Europe and add large numbers of soldiers to bases in Colorado, Georgia and Texas, Army officials said yesterday.

The basing plan is the final step in a detailed program for deciding where a larger Army will live and train in the years ahead, as it grows by 65,000 active-duty soldiers. It significantly changes the military's footprint from before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and alters a global basing plan adopted with great fanfare by the Pentagon in 2004.

The revised plan freezes previous orders for rapidly reducing Army forces in Europe. by two heavy brigades scheduled to come home from Germany at least two years sooner than under the new program. Now, one brigade will remain in Germany until 2012 and the other until 2013.

House panel challenges Bush, threatens CIA subpoenas

WASHINGTON - In a direct challenge to President Bush, a House panel yesterday said it has prepared subpoenas to force CIA officials to testify about the agency's secret destruction of interrogation videotapes.

The Justice Department had blocked the officials from appearing at a closed hearing before the panel this week, citing the department's ongoing investigation into the destruction of videotapes of the harsh interrogation of two al Qaeda suspects in 2002. The CIA destroyed the tapes in 2005.

The House Intelligence Committee's threat marked the second challenge to a White House attempt to shut down independent investigations into the matter, and escalates a fight over which branch of government properly has jurisdiction. On Tuesday, a federal judge rejected an administration effort to keep the courts out of the investigation.

Al Qaeda still can pack

a punch, general says

BAGHDAD - The top U.S. commander in northern Iraq warned yesterday that al Qaeda in Iraq was still capable of staging spectacular attacks despite a 50 percent drop in bombings and other violence in his region.

Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling said al Qaeda in Iraq was being pushed north by the increased numbers of U.S. troops that surged into Baghdad over the summer and fall. The insurgents are also being flushed out of Anbar province by "awakening councils" - groups of Sunni Arab tribesmen the U.S. military has backed to help fight al Qaeda in Iraq and its allies.

"Many of them have transited our province" of Diyala, which has seen some of the worst violence in Iraq, he said. "There are still some very bad things happening in that province, but we are continuing to pursue al Qaeda so they don't find a safe haven anywhere."

He said al Qaeda extremists could still carry out attacks against infrastructure projects such as bridges.

"You know, there are going to be continued spectacular attacks," he said when asked about the bombing of a bridge across Mosul dam on Monday.

Terrorists' media arm

looking for interviewers

CAIRO, Egypt - Al Qaeda has invited journalists to send questions to its No. 2 figure, Ayman al-Zawahri, in the first such offer by the increasingly media-savvy terror network to "interview" one of its leaders since the 9-11 attacks.

The invitation is a new twist in al-Qaida's campaign to reach a broader audience, and represents an attempt by al-Zawahri to present himself as a sophisticated leader rather than a mass murderer.

Revolutionary theory: Whale descended from a big rat

WASHINGTON - The gigantic ocean-dwelling whale may have evolved from a land animal the size of a small raccoon, new research suggests. What might be the missing evolutionary link between whales and land animals is an odd animal that looks like a long-tailed deer without antlers or an overgrown long-legged rat, fossils indicate.

The creature is called Indohyus, and recently unearthed fossils reveal some crucial evolutionary similarities between it and water-dwelling cetaceans, such as whales, dolphins and porpoises.

For years, the hippo has been the leading candidate for the closest land relative because of its similar DNA and whale-like features. So some scientists were skeptical of the new hypothesis by an Ohio anatomy professor whose work was being published today in the journal Nature.

Still, some researchers have been troubled that hippos seem to have lived in the wrong part of the world and popped up too recently to be a whale ancestor.

Newer fossils point to the deer-like Indohyus. The animal is a "missing link" to the sister species to ancient whales, said Hans Thewissen, an anatomy professor at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. *

- Associated Press