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Nation In brief: Court rejects torture lawsuit

A federal appeals court Friday threw out a lawsuit by four British Muslims who say they were tortured and subjected to religious abuse in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a ruling that exonerated 11 present and former senior Pentagon officials.

It appeared to be the first time that a federal appellate court has ruled on the legality of the harsh interrogation tactics that U.S. intelligence officers and military personnel have used on suspected terrorists held outside the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the detainees captured in Afghanistan aren’t recognized as “persons” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because they were aliens held outside the United States.

The court rejected other claims on the grounds that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had certified that the military officials were acting within the scope of their jobs when they authorized the interrogation tactics.

Jacksonville, N.C.

Body may be pregnant Marine

Authorities said Friday they believe they found the shallow grave of a pregnant Marine in the backyard of a comrade she accused of rape.

After some slight digging in a fire pit discovered in the yard of Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, detectives found what “appeared to be burnt human remains,” Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson said Friday.

“We think we have found what will (contain) the skeletal remains of Maria Lauterbach,” Hudson said. Authorities planned to begin slowly scraping the earth with garden tools in the morning.

Lance Cpl. Maria Frances Lauterbach, 20, vanished three weeks ago, days after she talked to military prosecutors about a rape case against Laurean.

Norfolk, Va.

Robertson looking into buying paper

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson is considering making an offer for the Virginian-Pilot, a daily newspaper he has criticized for its coverage of him and his activities.

The Pilot is the flagship newspaper of Norfolk-based Landmark Communications Inc., which announced last week that it was evaluating whether to sell all its assets, including the Weather Channel.

“Although the price for the Weather Channel is a little rich for my blood, I am considering a potential bid for the Pilot and have asked my attorneys to look into it,” Robertson said in an e-mail statement provided Friday by his assistant, G.G. Conklin.

Robertson, founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, said the newspaper could provide internships for journalism students at Regent University, the private Christian school he founded. Both CBN and Regent are in nearby Virginia Beach.