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Briefs (left)

Attorney General Defends
Surveillance Without Warrants

By Eric Lichtblau

Continuing the Bush administration’s stepped up defense of the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales Tuesday cited a long history of military surveillance conducted without warrants, going back to George Washington’s reading of captured mail between the British and Americans during the Revolutionary War.

In a speech at Georgetown University, Gonzales also said that it was crucial for the president to be able to act quickly on the professional judgment of intelligence experts to gather information on potential plots.

The wiretaps only involved calls or e-mail between someone in the United States and someone in a foreign country “when experienced intelligence experts have reason to believe that one party to the communication is a member of al-Qaida or has an affiliation with it,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales’ speech follows up a lecture given on Monday by Bush, in which he labeled the wiretaps a “terrorist surveillance program.”

Disney Agrees to Acquire Pixar
In a $7.4 Billion Deal

By Laura M. Holson

The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that it would acquire Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion in a stock deal that not only gives Pixar’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, a powerful role in Hollywood but also stirs hopes for rekindling the animated storytelling tradition at Disney.

The sale ends months of tricky negotiations that began with Jobs and Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, discussing whether to extend Pixar’s distribution partnership with Disney.

As part of the deal, Jobs will become a nonindependent director at Disney as well as its largest shareholder, ahead of Iger’s predecessor, Michael D. Eisner.

“As we approached the end of our relationship with Disney and we looked at our future, we were at a fork in the road,” Jobs said. And, he said, “Disney is the only company with animation in their DNA.”

As part of the agreement, Disney will issue 2.3 shares for every share of Pixar stock. (Pixar has $1 billion in cash.) That would value the deal at $59.78 a Pixar share based on Disney’s $25.99 closing price on Tuesday.

Six Powers to Meet in London
To Seek a Common Policy on Iran

By Elaine Sciolino

The foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet in London on Monday in an effort to resolve their differences on how best to punish Iran for its nuclear activities, three diplomats said Tuesday.

The United States and the Europeans believe that the U.N. Security Council must begin to pass judgment now on Iran for its nuclear behavior. The decision was triggered by Iran’s decision earlier this month to reopen its uranium enrichment plant despite a voluntary agreement freezing such activity, although the behavior being criticized also includes violations of Iran’s treaty obligations over the years.

But Russia and China are resisting entreaties to move immediately, arguing that Iran should be pressed to close the plant but should be given more time to comply with the demands being made before the Security Council acts.