Panel to probe CIA program


WASHINGTON – The House intelligence committee announced Friday it will investigate the CIA’s handling of its secret al-Qaida assassination program, including whether Vice President Dick Cheney improperly intervened to stop the agency from telling Congress about the initiative.

The probe will examine the nature of the now-canceled program – described by intelligence officials as a series of planned attempts to use assassins to kill or capture senior terrorists – but it will mostly focus on whether the agency improperly withheld information from lawmakers, committee members said.

“The committee must be kept fully and currently informed of significant intelligence activities as required by law,” chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said in a statement.

Giant floating blob identified as algae

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A sample of the giant black mystery blob that hunters discovered this month floating in the Chukchi Sea off the north coast of Alaska has been identified.

It looks to be a stringy batch of algae. Not bunker oil seeping from an aging, sunken ship. Not a sea monster.

Miles of the thick, dark gunk had been spotted floating between Barrow and Wainwright, prompting North Slope Borough officials and the Coast Guard to investigate last week. A sample was sent to a state lab in Anchorage, where workers looked at it under a microscope and declared it some kind of simple plant – an algae, said Ed Meggert of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation .

The goo fast became an Alaska mystery. And the findings still leave questions unanswered: Why is there so much of it in a region where people say they’ve never seen anything quite like it?

Terry Whitledge, director of the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said he doesn’t know why an unprecedented bloom of algae appeared off the Arctic coast. “You’ll find these kind of algae grow in areas that are shallow enough that light can get to the bottom … If you had a rocky area along the coast, you could have this type of algae.”


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