Security checks in D.C.'s subway

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Washington area's Metro transit system has begun random checks of passenger bags for explosives and other dangers, following similar efforts in New York and Boston.

Screeners swabbed some riders' bags and inspected them in at least two Metro train stations early Tuesday in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of the nation's capital. The checks took less than one minute each.

While two men were arrested this year in alleged bomb plots against the system, Metro Transit Police Department Chief Michael Taborn said the checks were not a response to a specific threat.

Two rights groups have an online petition against Metro's program. The ACLU lost a 2005 challenge against New York's searches. - AP

Lawyer says leak suspect is abused

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - The civilian lawyer for an Army private suspected of giving classified documents to WikiLeaks says he's seeking to ease the soldier's confinement conditions at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

David Coombs said in a blog post Tuesday that he had raised his concerns with Army lawyers assigned to Pfc. Bradley Manning's case, and that they had spoken to the Marine Corps without success.

Coombs said conditions such as confinement 23 hours a day amount to unlawful pretrial punishment. The Pentagon has denied mistreating Manning.

Coombs said he would seek relief at Manning's court-martial, but military law bars him from filing such a motion until after the case has been referred for trial. That could be months away. - AP

Lawyers target BP fund overseer

NEW ORLEANS - Lawyers for individuals and businesses suing over losses from the gulf oil spill want a federal judge overseeing their cases to rein in the administrator of the $20 billion victims compensation fund BP set up at President Obama's urging.

Describing fund administrator Ken Feinberg as a pawn of BP for trying to settle as many claims as possible to avoid lawsuits, they asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier on Tuesday to order changes to the release form people must sign in accepting a final payment from Feinberg - and require the fund to tell claimants that BP is paying Feinberg's firm $850,000 a month to administer it.

The lawyers said people should have to give up the right to sue BP for compensatory damages only if they accept a final payment from the fund, but should still be allowed to go after BP in court for punitive damages.

The more people who accept final payments and agree not to sue BP, the fewer potential clients for plaintiffs' attorneys, who have already filed more than 300 lawsuits over the spill. - AP

Elsewhere:

A federal judge upheld former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's fraud conviction and denied his request to be released from prison on bond, rejecting his bid to spend his wife's final days at her side. She has terminal cancer.