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Senators reject claim that torture helped hunt for Bin Laden

WASHINGTON — Democratic senators who lead the intelligence and armed services committees took issue Monday with claims from Bush administration officials that the Central Intelligence Agency’s coercive interrogation methods produced information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden a year ago.

The statement from Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, called the notion that the so-called enhanced interrogation methods helped the CIA find bin Laden by identifying his courier “misguided and misinformed.”

“Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program,” the statement said, without elaborating. The senators said their conclusions were based on a three-year study of the agency’s interrogation program by the intelligence committee staff that is nearing completion but remains secret.

—Scott Shane, The New York Times

Three children killed in crossfire between Taliban and US

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three children were killed and three wounded in crossfire Monday when Taliban insurgents attacked a team of U.S. soldiers in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said.

The U.S. soldiers were meeting with residents in the Shajoe district of Zabul province. Muhammad Jan Rasoolyaar, the deputy governor of Zabul, said that the Afghan Local Police and the Americans were present at a shura, or meeting of tribal leaders, in hopes of persuading the community to form its own police unit. Many children had gathered around the soldiers when the insurgents attacked, he said.

“It is too early to say who is to blame,” Rasoolyaar said, adding that another shura had been convened to examine what had happened.

But a spokesman for the U.S. military, James Graybeal, accused the Taliban of deliberately targeting the children.

“What it sounds like is that during the firefight, the insurgents turned their weapons on the civilians,” he said.

He added that there were no U.S. casualties.

—Rod Nordland and Taimoor Shah, The New York Times

Delta Air Lines to buy refinery
to save on jet fuel

Delta Air Lines said Monday that it had agreed to buy a refinery near Philadelphia from ConocoPhillips to offset the risk of higher jet fuel prices.

Delta said that it would spend $150 million to acquire the Trainer refinery, and spend $100 million to refurbish the plant to increase its output of jet fuel. The airline said it would receive $30 million from the state of Pennsylvania as part of a deal to support job creation.

Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive, said the investment was a “modest” one, equivalent to the list price of a new wide-body plane. The company estimated that it would reduce its annual fuel expense by $300 million, once the modifications to the refinery are completed. To achieve similar fuel savings, Delta would have to buy 60 new generation narrowbody planes, a capital investment of $2.5 billion, according to a regulatory filing.

Delta said it had also struck a three-year agreement with BP to supply crude oil to the refinery. As part of the deal, the details of which were not released, Delta will exchange gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products produced at the refinery with jet fuel from other sources from BP and Phillips 66.

Combined with the jet fuel produced at Trainer, Delta said these deals would provide 80 percent of its jet fuel needs in the United States.

—Jad Mouawad, The New York Times

Microsoft to take stake in Nook unit from Barnes & Noble

Microsoft announced on Monday that it would invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s Nook division for a 17.6 percent stake. The deal values the e-reader business at $1.7 billion.

The move by Microsoft will help bolster the standing of Barnes & Noble’s fastest-growing unit. The bookstore giant had said earlier this year that it was exploring strategic options for the business, including a potential divestiture or strategic partnership.

The company has wagered heavily on the Nook, whose e-readers and tablets compete against Amazon’s best-selling Kindle devices in the hotly contested world of electronic books.

—Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman, The New York Times

Court overturns Britain’s
lifetime Olympic bans

The British Olympics Association’s lifetime Olympic ban for serious doping offenders was deemed invalid Monday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court, which is sport’s highest court, said barring British athletes from the games because they had previously doped did not comply with the World Anti-Doping Code. It said the rule unjustly penalized an athlete twice for the same offense.

The decision paves the way for athletes like sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar to seek spots on the British Olympic team for the London Games in the summer.

Chambers, who is Britain’s best 100-meter runner, in 2003 tested positive for THG, an undetectable steroid, and served a two-year ban. Millar, one of Britain’s best road cyclists, admitted using EPO and was barred in 2004 for two years. He has since been one of his sport’s leading anti-doping advocates.

The court added that its decision did not preclude the World Anti-Doping Agency from including a lifetime Olympic ban for dopers in future versions of the organization’s anti-doping code.

—Juliet Macur, The New York Times