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News Briefs I

CIA Officer Sentenced for Spying

Los Angeles Times

The highest-ranking CIA officer ever caught spying for a foreign country was sentenced to more than 23 years in prison Thursday after confessing he sold out the United States for money to give his children a better life after the collapse of his tumultuous marriage.

Harold James Nicholson, a former CIA station chief overseas, appeared in federal court in Alexandria, Va., and apologized to his family for his actions. He added sorrowfully that he knows the CIA will never forgive him for his costly betrayal.

"I won't ask for the forgiveness of my colleagues and countrymen, for I know they cannot give it," Nicholson told U.S. District Judge James Cacheris. "I will ask for the forgiveness of my family and children because I know they will."

He insisted he agreed to spy for Russia in 1994 to make up to his children for years of long absences and for "failing to keep my marriage together." Nicholson added: "I am in so many ways so very sorry."

Cacheris rejected a request from Nicholson's attorney for a slightly lighter sentence, and instead approved the request of federal prosecutors that Nicholson be jailed for 23 years in a federal penitentiary. But Cacheris did agree to recommend that Nicholson serve his sentence on the West Coast, near his family in Oregon. Nicholson, 47, will be almost 70 when he becomes eligible for release.

Administration Urges High Court To Reject Affirmative Action Case

The Washington Post

Shifting positions in a high-profile affirmative action case, the Clinton administration Thursday urged the Supreme Court not to take up the case of a New Jersey school board being sued for laying off a white teacher to keep a black teacher with equal qualifications.

The White House said it dropped its initial support for the school board strictly for tactical reasons, fearing it would lead to a defeat at the high court that would then become binding precedent for the entire nation. But it nonetheless puts Clinton in the awkward position of encouraging the high court to leave in place a ruling the administration doesn't agree with.

That ruling, by the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, found that employers cannot favor minorities simply to maintain racial diversity in the workplace.

David B. Rubin, a lawyer for the school board, said "We're disappointed. But we never relied on them (the administration) for help anyway. We can't say they are turning their back on us. But one can only wonder how they can write a brief that says the court "incorrectly" decided a case, then say the Supreme Court cannot correct that."

Senate Panel Allows CIA Workers To Give Classified Info to Congress

The Washington Post

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has approved legislation that would allow CIA and other federal employees to pass classified information to senators or House members without the approval of their bosses if the material exposes misstatements made to Congress, gross mismanagement or waste, fraud or abuse.

The measure runs counter to executive branch policy, which since the Reagan administration has prohibited federal employees from delivering classified material to legislators or congressional committees without first clearing such action with superiors.

The provision, in the fiscal 1998 intelligence authorization bill, would permit employees to give the information only to members of the congressional committee that oversees their department or agency's operations or to their own senator or House member without facing reprisal.

The CIA last year took action against a State Department official, Richard A. Nuccio - barring him from access to agency classified information - after finding that Nuccio had given to then-Rep. Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., information on a CIA informant in the Guatemalan military who may have been involved in the murder of an American resident of Guatemala and the husband of a U.S. citizen who was a guerrilla in that country.