Accused soldier's lawyer objects

SEATTLE - The lead civilian lawyer for a U.S. soldier accused of massacring 17 Afghan villagers in March doesn't want to undergo a background check.

Seattle attorney John Henry Browne wrote in e-mails to the Associated Press on Thursday that the Army has requested that he and all civilian members of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales' defense team undergo the check to obtain security clearances for reviewing any classified evidence. That's standard when classified evidence may be at issue in a case, said Lt. Col Gary Dangerfield, a spokesman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Bales is based.

But Browne said it is troubling that to protect his client's legal rights, he and his associates would be subject to intrusive vetting. - AP

Archives worker gets jail for thefts

WASHINGTON - A federal judge in Maryland sentenced a former government employee to 18 months in prison for stealing thousands of recordings from the National Archives and selling many on eBay.

Leslie Charles Waffen was sentenced Thursday in Greenbelt, Md. Waffen spent more than 40 years working for the National Archives and Records Administration, the country's most important repository of historical records. He pleaded guilty to theft of government property in October.

A retired radio engineer from Connecticut, J. David Goldin, had spotted on eBay a record he donated to the Archives in the 1970s, setting off an investigation. - AP

3 federal agents shot in Calif. raid

PETALUMA, Calif. - Three Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were shot and injured Thursday while serving "high-risk" warrants in the San Francisco Bay area, authorities said.

The agents suffered non-life-threatening injuries during an early-morning raid in Petaluma related to the investigation of a 2010 gang-related triple homicide in South San Francisco, said Lt. Alan Normandy, a South San Francisco police spokesman.

Multiple arrests have been made in Thursday's incident, Normandy said. - AP

Zoo to give back exotic animals

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio zoo says it will transfer five exotic animals on Friday to the widow of a suicidal animal owner who released dozens of wild creatures last fall.

Two leopards, two primates, and a bear have been held at the Columbus zoo since October under a state quarantine order, which was lifted Monday.

A friend of Marian Thompson's said she plans to take the animals back to her Zanesville farm. Thompson's husband, Terry, released 56 animals before he committed suicide. Fearing for the public's safety, authorities killed 48 of the animals. The five animals that were quarantined are the survivors. - AP

Elsewhere:

Two people are dead after a small plane crashed in suburban Chicago FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the single-engine aircraft crashed Thursday afternoon near Crystal Lake.