2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 9, 2006
for church fires
Volunteer lawyers represent prisoners
Fires struck nine
Alabama churches last
month; suspects say it
started as a joke
BIRMINGHAM Ala. (AP) -
Three college students, including
two aspiring actors known around
campus as pranksters, were arrested
yesterday in a string of nine church
fires that spread fear across Ala-
bama last month.
Federal agents said the defendants
claimed that the first few blazes
were set as "a joke"sland that the oth-
ers were started to throw investiga-
tors off the track.
Gov. Bob Riley said the fires did
not appear to be "any type of con-
spiracy against organized religion"
or the Baptist faith. With the arrests,
he said, "the faith-based community
can rest a little easier."
Benjamin Nathan Moseley and
Russell Lee Debusk Jr., both 19-year-
old students at Birmingham-Southern
College, appeared in federal court
and were ordered held on church
arson charges pending a hearing Fri-
day. Matthew Lee Cloyd, 20-year-old
junior at the University of Alabama at
Birmingham, was also arrested.
The fires broke out at five Bap-
tist churches in Bibb County south
of Birmingham on Feb. 3 and four
Baptist churches in west Alabama on
Feb. 7. The federal AlcoholTobacco,
Firearms and Explosives agency had
made the investigation its top pri-
ority, with scores of federal agents
joining state and local officers.
"While all three are entitled to have
'their day in court, we are very hopeful
that this is the end to the fear that has
been rampant in West Alabama," said
Rep. Artur Davis, (D-Ala.)
Five churches were destroyed and
four damaged. In many cases, the
fire was set in the sanctuary near the
altar. No one was injured.
Acquaintances said DeBusk and
Moseley were both amateur actors
who were known as pranksters and
dreamed of becoming stars. They
performed in campus plays and
appeared in a documentary film.
Moseley confessed to the arsons
after his arrest, investigators said in
The papers said Moseley told
agents that he, Cloyd and Debusk
went to Bibb County in Cloyd's sport
utility vehicle on Feb. 2 and set fire
to five churches. A witness quoted
Cloyd as saying Moseley did it "as a
joke and it got out of hand."
Moseley also told agents the four
fires in west Alabama were set "as a
diversion to throw investigators off,"
an attempt that "obviously did not
work," the court papers said.
Investigators had said earlier
that they were looking for two men
seen in a dark SUV near a couple of
the church fires.
Agents said previously that there
appeared to be no racial pattern in
the fires; some were white congre-
gations, some were black ones. The
three students are white and all either
In this artist's rendering, Benjamin Nathan Moseley, left, and Russell Lee DuBusk Jr.,
right, appear before a judge at the federal courthouse in Birmingham, Ala.
attend or previously were enrolled at
Birmingham-Southern, a Method-
ist-affiliated liberal arts college.
Jim Parkerpastor of Ashby Baptist
Church at Brierfield, a Bibb County
church destroyed in the spree, said
the congregation had been worried
that the arsonists had some "political
or religious agenda." He said he had
spoken to federal agents and under-
stood the defendants were promising
students from good families.
"We really are concerned about
them as people," he said. "I would
just like to know what they were
Hundreds of volunteer lawyers representing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are
scouring more than 5,000 pages of newly released documents for clues they hope
may one day help win the detainees' freedom.
Many of the attorneys said the documents could help locate or identify witnesses
or finally prove to family members that a loved one is being held at the U.S. mili-
tary prison in Cuba.
Still, it is far from clear what legal rights the 500 or so prisoners have to
contest their detention in U.S. courts, and how much use they can make of
the new documents.
"The most frustrating part of it, these guys are wasting away in Guantanamo
while the courts go about this process of sorting out their rights," said attorney
Eldon Greenberg, who is representing two young Syrians detained as enemy com-
batants for more than four years.
GOP votes to block sale of U.S. ports
In an election-year repudiation of President Bush, a House panel dominated
by Republicans voted overwhelmingly yesterday to block a Dubai-owned firm
from taking control of some U.S port operations. Democrats clamored for a vote
in the Senate, too.
By 62-2, the House Appropriations Committee voted to bar DP World, run by
the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from holding leases or
contracts at U.S. ports.
Bush has promised to veto any such measure passed by Congress, but there is
widespread public opposition to the deal and the GOP fears losing its advantage
on the issue of national security in this fall's elections.
"This is a national security issue," Rep. Jerry Lewis, the chairman of the
House panel, said, adding that the legislation would "keep America's ports in
Iran threatens U.S. over U.N. involvement
Iran threatened the United States with "harm and pain" yesterday if the U.S.
tries to use the U.N. Security Council as a new and potent lever to punish Teh-
ran for its suspect nuclear program.
Washington warned that Tehran has enough nuclear material for up to 10
The rhetoric reflected the intensity of the debate at a meeting of the Interna-
tional Atomic Energy's 35-nation board over a critical report on Iran's nuclear
program. The meeting ended late yesterday, formally opening the path to Secu-
rity Council action that could range from a mild statement urging compliance
to sanctions or even military measures.
Bush receives mixed greeting in Big Easy
Six months after Hurricane Katrina, President Bush got a close-up look
yesterday at the mountains of debris, the abandoned homes and the board-
ed-up businesses that are shocking reminders of the "pain and agony" New
Orleans endures still.
In the devastated Lower Ninth Ward, few residents were around to tell Bush
how they felt. But two young women held up a sign for his motorcade that said,
"Where's my government?" Farther up the road, a man waved a flattened card-
board box on which he had written, "Pres. cut the red tape and help us:"
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
A story on yesterday's front page (Award mixes poetry, engineering ) incorrectly
stated that former Roger M. Jones Fellowship Abroad winner Paul Albertus attends
Stanford University. He is working toward his doctorate at the University of Califor-
nia at Berkeley.
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