Many nations censor Web sites

NEW YORK - At least 25 countries block Web sites for political, social or other reasons as governments seek to assert authority over a network meant to be borderless, according to a study out today.

The actual number may be higher, but the OpenNet Initiative had the time and capabilities to study only 40 countries and the Palestinian territories. Even so, researchers said they found more censorship than they had initially expected.

China, Iran, Myanmar, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam had the most extensive filters for political sites. Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen had the strictest social-filtering practices, blocking pornography, gambling and gay sites.

Researchers found no filtering at all in Russia, Israel or the Palestinian territories. They excluded North Korea and Cuba for fear of risks to collaborators it would need there. - AP

Security-clearance delays reported

WASHINGTON - A congressional watchdog agency yesterday reported "quite disturbing" delays in granting top-secret clearance to workers on sensitive jobs undertaken for the government by private industry.

A review of more than 2,000 cases in January and February 2006 showed it took an average of 446 days, or about 15 months, for first-time clearances, Derek B. Stewart, a senior official at the Government Accountability Office, told a Senate homeland security subcommittee.

Under a 2004 law, Stewart said in testifying and in an interview, clearances should be completed within 120 days. He said: "The government cannot get its business done and the taxpayer ends up paying more the longer it takes the government to process clearances." - AP

Senators pushing CIA on 9/11 report

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation that would force the CIA to release an inspector general's report on the Sept. 11 attacks.

The CIA has spent more than 20 months weighing requests under the Freedom of Information Act for its internal investigation of the 2001 attacks but has yet to release any portion of it. It is the only federal office involved in counterterrorism that has not made at least a version of its internal 9/11 probe public.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and two other intelligence committee leaders, Chairman John D. Rockefeller 4th (D., W. Va.) and senior Republican Christopher "Kit" Bond of Missouri, are pushing a bill that would require the CIA to declassify the review's executive summary within a month and explain to Congress why any material was withheld. - AP

Elsewhere:

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz, a Navy lawyer who gave a human- rights attorney the names of 550 Guantanamo Bay detainees, was convicted in military court in Norfolk, Va., yesterday of communicating secret information that could be used to injure the United States. A sentencing hearing was to begin today.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is spending millions on a publicity campaign while its hurricane forecasters struggle with budget cuts, National Hurricane Center Bill Proenza said yesterday.

A 15-foot pipe fell off the former Deutsche Bank tower being dismantled near the World Trade Center site and plunged through the roof of a firehouse, injuring two firefighters yesterday, officials in New York said.