VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
NO DEATH PENALTY FOR SNOWDEN IF CONVICTED, US SAYS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Striving to get Edward Snowden back to America, U.S., Attorney General Eric Holder has assured the Russian government the U.S. has no plans to seek the death penalty for the former National Security Agency systems analyst.
In a letter dated Tuesday, the attorney general said the criminal charges Snowden now faces in this country do not carry the death penalty and the U.S. will not seek his execution even if he is charged with additional serious crimes.
Holder's letter followed news reports that Snowden, who leaked details of top secret U.S. surveillance programs, has filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia on grounds that if he were returned to the United States he would be tortured and would face the death penalty.
Snowden has been charged with three offenses in the U.S., including espionage, and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
The attorney general's letter was sent to Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov, the Russian minister of justice.
MANNING ARGUMENTS WRAP UP; JUDGE TO DELIBERATE
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's fate was in the hands of a military judge Friday after nearly two months of conflicting portrayals of the soldier: a traitor who gave WikiLeaks classified secrets for worldwide attention and a young, naive intelligence analyst who wanted people to know about the atrocities of war.
Judge Col. Denise Lind started deliberating on the 21 charges Manning faces, but she did not say when she would rule, only that she will give the public one day's notice before her announcement. The most serious charge is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence in prison.
During closing arguments, defense attorney David Coombs said Manning was negligent in releasing classified material, but he did not know al-Qaida would see the material and did not have "evil intent," a key point prosecutors must prove to convict Manning of aiding the enemy.
Prosecutors contended Manning, 25, knew the material would be seen across the globe, even by Osama bin Laden, when he started the leaks in late 2009. Manning said the leaks didn't start until February the following year.
"Worldwide distribution, that was his goal," said the military's lead prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein. "Pfc. Manning knew the entire world included the enemy, from his training. He knew he was giving it to the enemy, specifically al-Qaida."
After Coombs finished his three-hour argument, there was a smattering of applause from Manning supporters, who were quickly hushed by the judge.
TRICKY OBSTACLES AHEAD TO AVERTING SHUTDOWN
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite pressure from some liberal Democrats for a September showdown in hopes of ending huge automatic, government-shrinking spending cuts, Washington appears on track to avert what would be the first government shutdown in nearly two decades.
That's not to say it will be easy. Senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill are finding trickier-than-usual obstacles in their path as they try to come up with must-do legislation to keep federal agencies running after Sept. 30.
At issue is what is normally routine: a plug-the-gap measure known as a continuing resolution to fund the government for a few weeks or months until a deal can be worked out on appropriations bills giving agencies their operating budgets for the full 2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The prevailing thinking is that it will all get worked out since leaders in both parties want to avoid a shutdown. But unlike last year, when Congress opted to delay debate on the so-called fiscal cliff until after the election and the December holidays, there has been little negotiation this time. The differences on spending levels also are more troublesome than last year.
The appropriations process is hopelessly tangled this year, in great part because the Democratic-led Senate and GOP-controlled House are more than $90 billion apart on how much to spend on Cabinet agency operations. And Oct. 1 is deceptively close since Congress takes the month of August off and has a limited schedule in September because of the Jewish holidays.
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