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News Briefs

Senate Panel Sets Deadline For Prewar Intelligence Handover

The New York Times -- WASHINGTON

Faced with a refusal by the Bush administration to provide certain documents related to prewar intelligence on Iraq, the Senate intelligence committee voted in a closed session on Thursday to move toward a possible subpoena, according to senior Congressional officials.

The bipartisan vote on the Republican-led panel sets a three-week deadline for a voluntary handover by the administration, after which the committee would employ unspecified “further action,” which could only mean a subpoena, the officials said.

In a brief telephone interview, the top Democrat on the panel said that “there’s no other interpretation” of the committee’s action if the White House fails to turn over the documents by late March.

“We need these things, we want them, and if we don’t get them, we will resort to other means,” said the Democrat, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia.

The plan approved by the panel calls for Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, the top Republican, to issue an explicit warning in a letter to President Bush if the documents are not received, congressional officials said.

Bush Lifts Sanctions on Libya

The New York Times -- WASHINGTON

President Bush issued an executive order on Thursday that will allow American companies to begin negotiating a return to Libya, but members of the Senate said that more sanctions would have to be lifted before the United States would be able include Libya in its program to find alternative work for nuclear engineers.

Bush’s action had been widely anticipated after Libya agreed in December to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Administration officials told Congress on Thursday that 55,000 pounds of “sensitive Libyan equipment” had already been flown from Libya to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, including centrifuges that were still in crates from the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories in Pakistan.

It was Khan’s network of nuclear suppliers, American officials say, that provided Libya with nuclear technology, though the project was halted long before it could produce a weapon.

The partial lifting of sanctions enables Libya, which produces about 1.4 million barrels of oil a day, to draw back American oil companies. A number of American firms, including Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips have already indicated interest in exploring new relationships with Libya.

U.S. And Seven States Sue To Block Oracle’s Takeover of Peoplesoft

The New York Times -- SAN FRANCISCO

In a stinging setback for Oracle Corp., the Justice Department and seven states on Thursday filed a lawsuit to block Oracle’s $9.4 billion hostile takeover of PeopleSoft Inc.

The Justice Department said the deal would violate federal antitrust laws, reduce competition and lead to higher prices for customers.

“We took this action because it’s the right thing to do to protect competition in an important market,” said R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general of antitrust, in a conference call after the decision was announced. The civil lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, near where both companies maintain their headquarters.

Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., and PeopleSoft, based in Pleasanton, Calif., are direct competitors in selling software used by businesses to manage their payroll, human resources and accounting operations.