WASHINGTON

Military says ‘zero option’ is not a plan for Afghanistan

The Pentagon said Tuesday it is offering no “zero option” for the number of troops that would remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission ends in December 2014. It said in a report to Congress that “substantial” long-term military support will be needed to ensure that Afghans can hold off the Taliban insurgency.

The White House has not ruled out leaving no troops behind after 2014, although officials say the most likely option is a residual training force of roughly 9,000.

In its twice-a-year report to Congress on war progress, the Pentagon said Afghanistan’s military is growing stronger but will require a lot more training, advising and foreign financial aid after the American and NATO combat mission ends.

The Pentagon’s assessment was an implicit rejection of the “zero option.” Zero is considered an unlikely choice by President Obama, not least because his administration has pledged to stand with the Afghans for the long term. But Obama has grown frustrated in his dealings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Peter Lavoy, the Pentagon’s top Afghan policy official, told a news conference that a number of post-2014 options have been developed, taking into account the Afghans’ need for additional training and advising, as well as what the Pentagon views as a longer-term requirement for U.S. counterterrorism forces in Afghanistan.

SAN DIEGO

College student settles with DEA over his detention

A 25-year-old college student has reached a $4.1 million settlement with the federal government after he was abandoned in a windowless Drug Enforcement Administration cell for more than four days without food or water, his attorneys said Tuesday.

The DEA introduced national detention standards as a result of the ordeal involving Daniel Chong, including daily inspections and a requirement for cameras in cells, said Julia Yoo, one of his lawyers.

Chong said he drank his own urine to stay alive, hallucinated that agents were trying to poison him with gases through the vents, and tried to carve a farewell message to his mother in his arm.

Chong was taken into custody during a drug raid and placed in the cell in April 2012 by a San Diego police officer authorized to perform DEA work on a task force. The officer told Chong he would not be charged and said, “Hang tight, we’ll come get you in a minute,” Iredale said.

The door to the 5-by-10-foot cell did not reopen for 4 1/2 days.

HARRISBURG, Pa.

Former Penn State officials ordered to face trials

Penn State’s ex-president and two former top school administrators were ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges accusing them of a cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Prosecutors showed enough evidence during a two-day preliminary hearing to warrant a trial for ex-President Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and ex-athletic director Tim Curley, District Judge William Wenner concluded.

The men engaged in a “conspiracy of silence,” the lead state prosecutor, Bruce Beemer, said during his closing argument. They covered up their failure to tell police about a 2001 allegation that Sandusky was molesting a boy in a university locker room shower, despite knowing that police investigated complaints about Sandusky showering with boys in 1998, Beemer said.

“When they were finally asked about (the 1998 investigation), it was 2011 and what happened in the interim?” Beemer said.

The key testimony centered on a series of emails among the three defendants that discussed the 1998 and 2001 cases and the account of Mike McQueary, a former team assistant and quarterback who said he had immediately told Schultz, Curley and the late longtime football coach Joe Paterno that he had seen Sandusky molesting a boy — dubbed Victim 2 in court documents — in the shower in 2001. Sandusky’s conviction includes charges for molesting the boy known as Victim 5 in those showers a mere six months later, sexually abusing Victim 3 around the same period and molesting Victims 1 and 9 in later years.