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By United Press International  |  Aug. 24, 2004 at 6:30 AM
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Military court retains Article 125

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. military's highest court has refused to strike down the armed forces' ban on private, consensual sodomy.

However, in the decision published Monday, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces left open the question of whether it would declare private consensual sodomy involving service members unconstitutional in future cases.

Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice bans private, consensual sodomy, regardless of whether it occurs in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship. A study by the RAND Institute estimates 80 percent of military personnel violate Article 125 on a regular basis.

The military court reviewed the statute in wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas in June 2003, in which the nation's high court said governmental intrusion into private, intimate relationships is unconstitutional.

C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the Service Members Legal Defense Network, issued a statement Monday saying his organization "will now consider all options regarding further challenges to the military's statute."

Tenet, Dems rip intelligence reform plan

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A former CIA director and senate Democrats Monday ripped the intelligence reform proposal put forward by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"This proposal reflects a dangerous misunderstanding of the business of intelligence," George Tenet, who retired as CIA director last month, said in a statement.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the senior Democrat on the intelligence committee, accused his GOP counterpart, Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., of "squander(ing) the momentum we achieved last month" when the panel released a unanimous, bipartisan report on Iraq pre-war intelligence.

Rockefeller said it was regrettable Roberts "did not afford me or any Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee an opportunity to work with him in drafting the proposal."

Roberts' proposal -- which he unveiled during the weekend -- goes even further than reforms suggested by the Sept. 11 Commission.

Roberts' plan would break the CIA into three parts: an operational National Clandestine Service, an analytical Office of National Assessments and an Office of Technical Support.

All three parts would be placed under the control of a new spy chief, the national intelligence director, who would also take over the human intelligence service of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the three agencies -- currently in the Pentagon -- that build and run the nation's spy satellites and listening posts.

Louisiana court mulls same-sex arguments

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A Louisiana appeals court Monday took under advisement arguments over a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages and civil unions.

The state's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal has been asked by the Louisiana Supreme Court to act on an expedited basis in the case, the Advocate reported. The higher court expects to get an appeal immediately. The election is Sept. 18.

In arguments Monday, Louisiana's state attorney general urged the five-judge panel to overturn a judge's Friday ruling that the measure is unconstitutional because it addresses more than one issue.

An attorney for a gay-and lesbian-rights organization argued the measure is illegal and would "take away rights that are inalienable."

Louisiana state law already bans same-sex marriages, but supporters of the amendment say it might reduce the chance of the law being overturned by the courts.

Celebrities have political clout

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Celebrities, such as Howard Stern and Bruce Springsteen, might influence elections because they have clout with many Americans, political activists say.

"Bruce Springsteen and these artists and filmmakers in some ways have much more credibility and experience talking to the American people than politicians do," said Eli Pariser, executive director of the activist group MoveOn PAC, ABC reported Monday.

"So," added Pariser, "I think having them step forward makes people pay attention in a way that is critical in an election where so much is at stake and which is so hotly contested."

Stern has used his radio show and Springsteen has used his musical celebrity to support Democratic President nominee John Kerry.

"The people who listen to Stern are people who are not necessarily political zealots," said Talkers publisher Michael Harrison.

Some country music singers, who may not explicitly support President Bush, have hit a popular nerve in some circles by releasing songs supporting the U.S. military.

Olympic anchor puzzled by bust furor

LONDON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- British Olympic TV anchor Sharron Davies, whose breasts have caused a media uproar, said the attention is good if it draws more people to the Games.

BBC officials told their cameramen to shoot Davies from the chest up after viewers complained they could see the outline of the former swimming silver medalist's nipples, Sky News reported Monday.

"If it means more people are watching the Olympics, then it's a positive thing. They might learn a lot about swimming, get drawn into the sport and actually find they enjoy it," Davies said.

The athlete also admits the attention has annoyed her.

Said Davies: "At first it was a bit of a chuckle and nicely flattering. But if it's overshadowing things, then it's quite irrational because I take a real pride in my job."

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