US News: Did Wiretaps Thwart 20 Terrorist Plots?; West Wildfires; Bear's Head Freed from Jar

By  | 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Top U.S. intelligence officials say information gleaned from two controversial data-collection programs run by the National Security Agency thwarted potential terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries.
No other new details about the plots or the countries involved are part of newly declassified information released to Congress on Saturday and made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Intelligence officials say that fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked last year against the database of millions of U.S. phone records gathered daily by the NSA. Under the program, the records can only be examined for suspected connections to terrorism.
Also revealed: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reviews the two data-collection programs every 90 days, and the data gathered must be destroyed every five years.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- Fire officials say crews have gained the upper hand on the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history and have more than half the blaze contained.
Incident commander Rich Harvey says containment of the Black Forest Fire outside Colorado Springs is at 55 percent, up from 45 percent earlier Saturday.
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa (mah-KEE'-tah) says some residents along the north and west fronts of the initial evacuation zone are being allowed to return to their neighborhoods after authorities downgraded evacuation orders from mandatory to pre-evacuation status in specific areas.
While most mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted, as the fire zone remains at about 25 square miles, hundreds remain displaced after the fire destroyed nearly 500 homes and killed two people.
Maketa says in some areas, it appears as if "a nuclear bomb went off."
It's unclear what caused the fire but officials believe it was human-related.
No additional homes were destroyed as fire crews expanded containment lines. Also, there are no new reports of injury or death.

CIMARRON, N.M. (AP) -- A wildfire in northern New Mexico that forced about 100 Boy Scouts to relocate to another camping area has grown to more than 1,000 acres.
State Forestry officials say the Whites Peak Fire grew Saturday to 1,111 acres -- more than 1.7 square miles -- and is 10 percent contained.
The lightning-caused fire began Thursday morning in a remote forested area of private land about 14 miles southwest of Cimarron and 3 miles south of Philmont's border.
Officials say the fire is burning in landscape that is very steep and rocky and has very limited access for firefighters on the ground.
Crews are working to protect the Mora's Creek Drainage near the fire.
The watershed provides water for area residences east of the fire.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is congratulating Iranians on their presidential election but says the Tehran government created an intimidating environment that limited free expression.
Moderate candidate Hasan Rowhani (hah-SAHN' roh-HAH'-nee) was declared the winner Saturday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says the U.S. respects the results and congratulates Iranians for making their voices heard. But he says censorship and a lack of transparency preceded the vote.
Carney says the U.S. still wants a diplomatic solution to concerns about Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Rowhani won after a surge of support from reform-minded Iranians put him over 50 percent, thus avoiding a runoff.
The former nuclear negotiator became the default moderate candidate after ruling clerics barred more prominent reform candidates.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Pentagon inspector general's report says U.S. special operations forces who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden were in uniform and wearing nametags during a CIA award ceremony attended by the writer of the film "Zero Dark Thirty."
The report released Friday omits a number of revelations disclosed in a draft of the report that was made public more than a week ago. One omission: that then-CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the raid commander during his speech at the 2011 event.
The report was triggered by questions from a congressional lawmaker about whether U.S. officials leaked classified information to the filmmakers and whether they compromised military tactics and procedures.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Authorities say a fire that engulfed a sprawling building near downtown Indianapolis has prompted the evacuation of a five-block area and rattled surrounding neighborhoods with exploding propane tanks.
Capt. Rita Burris of the Indianapolis Fire Department says about 100 firefighters from six departments are working to control the fire at the two-story brick building about a mile southwest of downtown Indianapolis.
The fire was reported Saturday afternoon in the mixed-use building that houses tire- and pallet-recycling businesses and storage facilities.
Burris says numerous small propane tanks have exploded inside the building, shaking the area.
She says one firefighter injured his knee fighting the blaze, which has produced a huge pillar of black smoke.
Firefighters are expected to remain at the scene through Saturday night working to douse the flames.

JAMISON CITY, Pa. (AP) -- Four central Pennsylvania residents say they rescued a young bear whose head had been stuck in a plastic jar for at least 11 days. The group, armed only with a rope and flashlight, managed to chase down the bear and lasso it. They say the frightened bear fell into a swimming pool at least twice during the ordeal, but they eventually yanked off the jar and set the animal free.

Divers begin Lake Michigan search for Griffin ship
ON LAKE MICHIGAN NEAR POVERTY ISLAND, Mich. (AP) -- A team of explorers has begun a close examination of a northern Lake Michigan site that may be the resting place of a 17th century ship called the Griffin.
U.S. and French experts began opening a pit Saturday near Poverty Island, at the spot where team leader Steve Libert (LIE'-burt) found a large timber wedged into the lake bottom in 2001. He believes it's part of the ship commanded by French explorer La Salle that disappeared in 1679.
By late afternoon, technicians had removed 3 feet of sediment and found what project manager Ken Vrana described as a "cultural artifact." He declined to elaborate.
By Sunday, Libert hopes to reach what could be a large object that's visible on sonar. The Associated Press is onboard a boat accompanying the explorers.