WASHINGTON - Top congressional leaders agreed Thursday to a four-year extension of the antiterrorist Patriot Act, the law passed after the 9/11 attacks that governs the search for terrorists on American soil.
The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R., Ohio) calls for a vote before May 27, when parts of the act expire. The idea is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted argument over the power the law gives to the government.
Support for the extension was unclear. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D., Vt.) wanted tighter restrictions on the government's power and may seek to amend it. In the House, members of the freshman class elected on promises of making government smaller were skeptical.
Some Patriot Act opponents suggest that Osama bin Laden's death should prompt Congress to reconsider the law. But the act's supporters warn that al-Qaeda splinter groups may try to retaliate. - AP
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - A Texas woman accused of killing her 6-year-old son and leaving his body on a dirt road in Maine may have come to New England to kill her son and commit suicide, saying the boy is "in heaven" and she wants to go there as soon as possible, her lawyer said Thursday.
Julianne McCrery, 42, of Irving, was ordered held without bail Thursday on second-degree murder charges in New Hampshire, where she made her initial court appearance after waiving extradition earlier in the day from Massachusetts, where she was detained at a highway rest stop.
"I think it's just a tragic case. There's not much more I can say right now," said Monica Kaeser, McCrery's public defender.
Investigators believe McCrery killed Camden Hughes on Saturday in Hampton, N.H., and then left the body in an isolated area in South Berwick, Maine. Preliminary autopsy findings showed that the cause of Camden's death was asphyxiation, according to Maine's chief medical examiner. The boy, described as "a gifted and talented" kindergartner, last attended school on May 6. - AP
CHICAGO - Prosecutors rested their case Thursday at the corruption retrial of impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose attorneys quickly said that - unlike last time - they would put on a defense.
Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky said the defense witnesses would be "of some prominence," though he didn't name them. Calling some this time would open them up to difficult cross-examinations.