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News Briefs, part 1

Mexico Probes Political Gadfly Link to Colosio Suspect

Los Angeles Times

Rodolfo Macias, a gadfly who calls himself Mexico's provisional president, has finally gotten the government's attention: The special prosecutor's office summoned him to appear Monday evening to explain any relationship he may have had with Mario Aburto, the chief suspect in the assassination of ruling party presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio.

According to Mexican newspaper reports, Macias and Aburto are distant relatives by marriage and Aburto once worked for Macias' brother in Tijuana, where Colosio was fatally shot as he left a campaign rally March 23.

But Macias and Aburto's brother deny any connection between their families. Macias said he believes he is being questioned "because (the government) wants to confuse public opinion."

The purported links between Aburto and Maciasare one of several seemingly far-fetched leads the special prosecutor's office is following up as it attempts to solve the murder of Colosio, the man who was widely expected to be the next president of Mexico.

Speculation about who masterminded the murder has been fed by a seeming setback Sunday in the government investigation, when a judge released a key figure in the alleged plot to assassinate Colosio. Judge Alejandro Sosa ruled there was insufficient evidence to try Rodolfo Rivapalacio, one of the organizers of crowd control for the Colosio rally.

Supervisor's Early Retirement Not Due to Ames Connection, CIA Says

The Washington Post

A 30-year CIA veteran who supervised alleged spy Aldrich H. Ames in the 1980s was granted early retirement last month in a move that agency officials say has no connection with the Ames case.

Milton Bearden, currently the agency's Bonn station chief, asked that his retirement be moved up to November when he was recalled to CIA headquarters last month for what one senior intelligence official said Monday was "a talk with the CIA leadership about what to do about the Ames case."

In 1991, when Ames came under suspicion as a possible double agent, it was Bearden, by then chief of the Soviet-East European division, who informed Ames he was being transferred to the CIA's counternarcotics center, sources said.

Court records disclosed that Ames told his Soviet handlers that the move would take him out of direct contact with the sensitive counterintelligence information that he allegedly had been supplying over the years.

Agency officials, who normally refuse to discuss personnel matters, agreed Monday to talk on background about Bearden's planned retirement in order to refute a story published in the current issue of U.S. News and World Report.

Breaux Withdraws as Possible Candidate to Succeed Mitchell

The Washington Post

Sen. John Breaux, D-La., withdrew Monday as a possible candidate to succeed retiring Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, leaving Sen. Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., as the only announced contender in a field that may not take final shape for weeks, if not months.

Only three days after reconfirming his interest in becoming majority leader at a breakfast meeting with reporters, Breaux issued a brief statement saying he will not run for the post in the party's post-election leadership contests in late November.

At the breakfast, Breaux said he did not believe in rubber-stamping administration initiatives and suggested that, while Mitchell worked "very, very hard by himself" to pass legislation, the new leadership should focus on a "team effort."

"George Mitchell is a great majority leader, and his Senate leadership will be sorely missed and difficult to replace," Breaux said in his statement Monday. "I will not be a candidate for majority leader and I intend to work with our next leader to forge the difficult coalitions needed to move our legislative agenda forward." Breaux did not say why he decided against running and was not available for elaboration on his statement.

But other Democratic sources said they believed that Breaux had sounded out enough of his colleagues to determine that he could not win the race for the Democrats' top leadership job. "He's nothing if not a realist ... he always said he didn't want to run just for the exercise," said a Democratic aide. Breaux has figured prominently in speculation about the leadership race since Mitchell stunned his colleagues last month with an announcement that he would not seek re-election this fall. Mitchell is under consideration by President Clinton for nomination to the Supreme Court.