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World Briefs II

Judge Rejects Release Of Draft Report on FBI Errors

The Washington Post

Forcing the Justice Department to make public a draft report of an inspector general's investigation into allegations of misconduct and slipshod work in the FBI's forensic lab would be "premature" and "confusing" to the public, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said it also would be unfair to the Justice Department's inspector general, who deserves time to finish his work. "Premature disclosure of what's only a draft could clearly interfere and undercut future actions the government may wish to take based on whatever facts and conclusions are contained in the final report," she said.

The investigation by inspector general Michael Bromwich has already led the Justice Department to notify prosecutors in about 50 criminal cases that there may be problems with the quality of the lab's work. Also, the FBI has suspended Whitehurst and transferred three lab supervisors.

The FBI's handling of Whitehurst was the subject of some extraordinarily blunt correspondence between FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and Bromwich which was made public Monday.

In releasing the correspondence, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa depicted Freeh's testimony as "the latest case of misleading by the FBI."

Rockwell to Spin Off Auto Parts Into Separate Company

Los Angeles Times

Rockwell International Corp. said Monday it will spin off its $3.1 billion automotive parts business into a separate publicly traded company and will concentrate on building its formidable commercial electronics businesses.

The move rids Rockwell of a 78-year-old business founded by axle maker Willard F. Rockwell '08 and completes what Chairman Donald R. Beall has called the "deconglomeration" of the company.

Once renowned as an aerospace and defense giant - the maker of the B-1 bomber and the U.S. space shuttle fleet - Rockwell no longer has any of the business that once formed its foundation.

Instead, it has shifted its focus to the fast-growing, high-profit electronics arena. With the spinoff of its Michigan-based automotive business, Rockwell will consist of a semiconductor unit in Newport Beach, an industrial automation unit in Milwaukee, Wis., and an avionics and communications business in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The proposed spinoff is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, the end of Rockwell's 1997 fiscal year. If approved by regulators, the move would give Rockwell shareholders one share of the new automotive company's stock for every three shares of Rockwell stock they hold. Sprague estimated the market value of the automotive unit at about $1.8 billion. Rockwell said it hopes the new company's stock will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

The new company will change its name. Rockwell, which gets a one-time special dividend of $400 million, will not be a shareholder.