That was the week that was

    Bin Laden re-emerges in audiotape

    Osama
    bin Laden broke a yearlong silence and threatened new attacks against
    the United States in an audiotape broadcast by the Arab network
    al-Jazeera. On the tape _ which was authenticated by the CIA as the
    first public communication from bin Laden since December 2004 _ the
    terrorist leader also offered the possibility of a truce under
    unspecified conditions. The Bush administration dismissed the
    suggestion as propaganda.

    Supreme Court upholds assisted suicide

    The Supreme Court backed Oregon’s physician-assisted-suicide law,
    refusing to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die. The
    justices ruled 6-3 that the Bush administration improperly tried to use
    a drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses under
    the 1997 state law.

    Lawsuits challenge eavesdropping program

    Two leading civil-rights groups sued the Bush administration to stop
    its domestic spying program. The two lawsuits, filed by the American
    Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, were
    the first major court challenges to the eavesdropping. The groups said
    they want to learn whether the operation was used to monitor defense
    lawyers, journalists, scholars, political activists and other Americans
    with ties to the Middle East. The Justice Department said it would
    fight the lawsuits on national-security grounds.

    Gore calls for special counsel

    Former Vice President Al Gore urged the appointment of a special
    counsel to investigate President Bush’s authorization of domestic
    surveillance by the National Security Agency. In a speech on the
    holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Gore charged that Bush’s
    record on civil liberties posed a “grave danger” to America’s
    constitutional freedoms. Gore said that “what we do know” about the
    spying program “virtually compels the conclusion that the president of
    the United States has been breaking the law, repeatedly and
    insistently.”

    First mission to Pluto

    The
    fastest spacecraft ever launched took off on the first mission to Pluto
    _ a 3 billion-mile trip to study the planet and examine mysterious
    objects at the outer edges of the planetary system. The New Horizons
    probe was expected to reach Jupiter in just over a year and make it to
    Pluto by 2015. Pluto is the solar system’s last unexplored planet.

    Congress considers ethics reform

    Fearing a voter backlash from the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal,
    Republicans in the House and Senate backed stronger laws governing
    ethics. Democrats made their own proposals in an attempt to exploit the
    scandal for their own political gain. Among the ideas: Tightening the
    limits on free travel, meals and gifts.