National Digest


July 30, 2004

Whistle-blower's claims played part in FBI firing

WASHINGTON - A classified Justice Department investigation has determined that a whistle-blower's allegations of security lapses in the FBI's translator program were at least partly responsible for her firing, the bureau director told senators.

The department's inspector general, Glenn Fine, did not conclude that the FBI had retaliated against the translator, Sibel Edmonds, when she was fired in April 2002, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III wrote on July 21 to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Mueller acknowledged he was concerned by Fine's determination that allegations by Edmonds "were at least a contributing factor in why the FBI terminated her services," the director wrote, quoting from the report.

Edmonds alleges she was fired after complaining to FBI managers about shoddy wiretap translations and telling them an interpreter with a relative at a foreign embassy might have compromised national security after the Sept. 11 attacks by passing information from an FBI wiretap to the target of an investigation.

New drug treatment approved for alcoholism

WASHINGTON - The government approved the first new drug to treat alcohol abuse in a decade yesterday, a medicine called Campral that promises to help ward off relapses. Campral, known chemically as acamprosate, isn't for patients who are actively drinking at the start of treatment or who abuse other substances in addition to alcohol, the Food and Drug Administration warned.

Exactly how Campral works isn't fully understood. But it is thought to somehow ease alcoholism withdrawal symptoms by normalizing abnormalities in two brain chemical systems.

In a study comparing Campral with a dummy pill, more of the people using Campral were continuously abstinent throughout their alcohol-abuse treatment, FDA said. Campral, made by France's Lipha Pharmaceuticals, has been widely used in Europe for years.

Woman arrested, cuffed for eating in D.C. subway

WASHINGTON - A government scientist finishing a candy bar on her way into a subway station where eating is prohibited was arrested, handcuffed and detained for three hours by transit police. Stephanie Willett said she was eating a PayDay bar on an escalator descending into a station July 16 when an officer warned her to finish it before entering the station. Both Willett and police agree that she nodded and put the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into a trash can.

Willett, a 45-year-old Environmental Protection Agency scientist, told radio station WTOP that the officer followed her into the station, one of several in downtown Washington. "Don't you have some other crimes you have to take care of?" Willett said she asked the officer.

Washington has been under heightened security because of the continuing threat of terrorism. And last week, police declared a citywide crime emergency over rising juvenile crime. The transit police officer asked for Willett's identification, but Willett kept walking. She said she was then frisked and handcuffed.

Museum workers accused of stealing $880,000

NEW YORK - Two workers at the Whitney Museum of American Art who were videotaped pocketing cash from ticket sales were charged with stealing $880,000 over 2 1/2 years, authorities said yesterday.

Nafeem Wahlah, 29, the museum's manager of visitor services, stole $850,000 by voiding ticket sales and keeping the money, said Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. Investigators found $800,000 in a safe in her Brooklyn home, he said.

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