Barr Suit Claims White House Used FBI Files to Smear Foes

Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.), a leading critic of President Clinton, filed a federal lawsuit yesterday accusing the White House of using FBI files and other information about political foes to conduct smear campaigns.

The suit contends that the White House obtained FBI and other secret files on Barr and then leaked them last year as part of an effort to discredit Republicans seeking Clinton's impeachment. It says the materials were compiled and released in violation of the Privacy Act and ties them to attacks by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, former Clinton adviser James Carville and others.

Barr's suit was filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has a separate case against the Clinton administration. White House spokesman Barry Toiv declined comment, saying attorneys needed time to review it; the White House has denied violating privacy rights of perceived enemies.

Reis Resigns as Energy's Chief of Weapons Program

The head of the Energy Department's weapons program, Victor H. Reis, submitted his resignation to President Clinton yesterday, becoming the first official to leave in the wake of Chinese nuclear spying allegations.

Although Reis refused to comment on his departure, some officials said it stemmed from a disagreement with Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on how to streamline management and beef up security at the national laboratories and other facilities that develop and maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Richardson has strengthened both security and counterintelligence. But he has resisted the approach that Reis reportedly favored: creating a semiautonomous nuclear agency.

Gandhi Relative Pleads Guilty Over Illegal DNC Donation

Yogesh K. Gandhi, a distant relative of the late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, tax evasion and violating federal election law over a $325,000 contribution to the Democratic Party, the Justice Department said. Under a plea deal reached with the Justice Department, Gandhi likely would be sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 5. The Justice Department said Gandhi admitted he gave a $325,000 check to the Democratic Party in 1996, but the money really was an illegal political campaign contribution by a foreign national.

White House Restricts Use Of Restraints on Mentally Ill

The Clinton administration announced a new regulation designed to prevent use of inappropriate chemical and physical restraints on psychiatric patients, characterizing it as a sort of patients' bill of rights for the mentally ill. The rule, which takes effect in 60 days, was drafted in response to growing reports of abuses, some of which have resulted in deaths. It would apply only to federally funded hospitals, but advocates said they hope to extend the standards to private institutions.

House Approves Plans to Ease Foster Children's Transition

The House voted for new spending on programs that help foster children complete the transition to independence after they are released from state care upon turning 18.

Lawmakers voted 380-6 for the bill, which, among other steps, would double funding for a program that helps foster children learn to live on their own. It also would let states extend Medicaid coverage through age 21.