Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Common Dreams - December, 2001

Published on Saturday, December 1, 2001 in the New York Times
Going Backwards, Ashcroft Seeks Looser Limits on FBI Spying
U.S. religious, political groups may lose civil liberties safeguards
by David Johnston and Don Van Natta Jr.
ASHINGTON, Nov. 30 — Attorney General John Ashcroft is considering a plan to relax restrictions on the F.B.I.'s spying on religious and political organizations in the United States, senior government officials said today.The proposal would loosen one of the most fundamental restrictions on the conduct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and would be another step by the Bush administration to modify civil-liberties protections as a means of defending the country against terrorists, the senior officials said.

The attorney general's surveillance guidelines were imposed on the F.B.I. in the 1970's after the death of J. Edgar Hoover and the disclosures that the F.B.I. had run a widespread domestic surveillance program, called Cointelpro, to monitor antiwar militants, the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others, while Mr. Hoover was director.

Since then, the guidelines have defined the F.B.I.'s operational conduct in investigations of domestic and overseas groups that operate in the United States.

Some officials who oppose the change said the rules had largely kept the F.B.I. out of politically motivated investigations, protecting the bureau from embarrassment and lawsuits. But others, including senior Justice Department officials, said the rules were outmoded and geared to obsolete investigative methods and had at times hobbled F.B.I. counterterrorism efforts.

Mr. Ashcroft and the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, favor the change, the officials said. Most of the opposition comes from career officials at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said today that no final decision had been reached on the revised guidelines.

"As part of the attorney general's reorganization," said Susan Dryden, the spokeswoman, "we are conducting a comprehensive review of all guidelines, policies and procedures. All of these are still under review."

An F.B.I. spokesman said the bureau's approach to terrorism was also under review.

"Director Mueller's view is that everything should be on the table for review," the spokesman, John Collingwood, said. "He is more than willing to embrace change when doing so makes us a more effective component. A healthy review process doesn't come at the expense of the historic protections inherent in our system."

The attorney general is free to revise the guidelines, but Justice Department officials said it was unclear how heavily they would be revised. There are two sets of guidelines, for domestic and foreign groups, and most of the discussion has centered on the largely classified rules for investigations of foreign groups.

The relaxation of the guidelines would follow administration measures to establish military tribunals to try foreigners accused of terrorism; to seek out and question 5,000 immigrants, most of them Muslims, who have entered the United States since January 2000; and to arrest more than 1,200 people, nearly all of whom are unconnected to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and hold hundreds of them in jail.

Today, Mr. Ashcroft defended his initiatives in an impassioned speech to United States attorneys.

"Our efforts have been deliberate, they've been coordinated, they've been carefully crafted to not only protect America but to respect the Constitution and the rights enshrined therein," Mr. Ashcroft said.

"Still," he added, "there have been a few voices who have criticized. Some have sought to condemn us with faulty facts or without facts at all. Others have simply rushed to judgment, almost eagerly assuming the worst of their government before they've had a chance to understand it at its best."

Under the current surveillance guidelines, the F.B.I. cannot send undercover agents to investigate groups that gather at places like mosques or churches unless investigators first find probable cause, or evidence leading them to believe that someone in the group may have broken the law. Full investigations of this sort cannot take place without the attorney general's consent.

Since Sept. 11, investigators have said, Islamic militants have sometimes met at mosques — apparently knowing that the religious institutions are usually off limits to F.B.I. surveillance squads. Some officials are now saying they need broader authority to conduct surveillance of potential terrorists, no matter where they are.

Senior career F.B.I. officials complained that they had not been consulted about the proposed change — a criticism they have expressed about other Bush administration counterterrorism measures. When the Justice Department decided to use military tribunals to try accused terrorists, and to interview thousands of Muslim men in the United States, the officials said they were not consulted.

Justice Department officials noted that Mr. Mueller had endorsed the administration's proposals, adding that the complaints were largely from older F.B.I. officials who were resistant to change and unwilling to take the aggressive steps needed to root out terror in the United States. Other officials said the Justice Department had consulted with F.B.I. lawyers and some operational managers about the change.

But in a series of recent interviews, several senior career officials at the F.B.I. said it would be a serious mistake to weaken the guidelines, and they were upset that the department had not clearly described the proposed changes.

"People are furious right now — very, very angry," one of them said. "They just assume they know everything. When you don't consult with anybody, it sends the message that you assume you know everything. And they don't know everything."

Still, some complaints seem to stem from the F.B.I.'s shifting status under Mr. Ashcroft. Weakened by a series of problems that predated the Sept. 11 attacks, the F.B.I. has been forced to follow orders from the Justice Department — a change that many law enforcement experts thought was long overdue. In the past, the bureau leadership had far more independence and authority to make its own decisions.

Several senior officials are leaving the F.B.I., including Thomas J. Pickard, the deputy director. He was the senior official in charge of the investigation of the attacks and was among top F.B.I. officials who were opposed to another decision of the Bush administration, the public announcements of Oct. 12 and Oct. 29 that placed the country on the highest state of alert in response to vague but credible threats of a possible second terrorist attack. Mr. Pickard is said to have been opposed to publicizing threats that were too vague to provide any precautionary advice.

Many F.B.I. officials regard the administration's plan to establish military tribunals as an extreme step that diminishes the F.B.I.'s role because it creates a separate prosecutorial system run by the military.
"The only thing I have seen about the tribunals is what I have seen in the newspapers," a senior official complained.

Another official said many senior law enforcement officials shared his concern about the tribunals. "I believe in the rule of law, and I believe if we have a case to make against someone, we should make it in a federal courtroom in the United States," he said.

Several senior F.B.I. officials said the tribunal system should be reserved for senior Al Qaeda members apprehended by the military in Afghanistan or other foreign countries.

Few were involved in deliberations that led to the directive Mr. Ashcroft issued this month to interview immigrant men living legally in the United States. F.B.I. officials have complained that the interview plan was begun before its ramifications were fully understood.

"None of this was thought through, a senior official said. "They just announced it, and left it to others to figure out how to do it."

The arrests and detentions of more than 1,200 people since Sept. 11 have also aroused concerns at the F.B.I. Officials noted that the investigations had found no conspirators in the United States who aided the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks and only a handful of people who were considered Al Qaeda members.

"This came out of the White House, and Ashcroft's office," a senior official said. "There are tons of things coming out of there these days where there is absolutely no consultation with the bureau."
Some at the F.B.I. have been openly skeptical about claims that some of the 1,200 people arrested were Al Qaeda members and that the strategy of making widespread arrests had disrupted or thwarted planned attacks.

"It's just not the case," an official said. "We have 10 or 12 people we think are Al Qaeda people, and that's it. And for some of them, it's based only on conjecture and suspicion."

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

Published on Monday, December 3, 2001 in the New York Times
by David E. Rosenbaum
WASHINGTON — The war against terrorism has created some novel pitches from Washington lobbyists, now swarming over the capital as Congress tries to wrap up its business for the year.The American Traffic Safety Services Association, whose members make traffic signs, is arguing that more federal money is needed for road signs to prevent traffic jams after terror attacks. California date growers have petitioned the White House and the Pentagon to buy dates for food packages being dropped in Afghanistan. They would be a treat for the Afghans during Ramadan, the growers maintain.

What happened was a tragedy, certainly, but there are opportunities. We're in business. This is not a charity.
James Albertine
Corporate Lobbyist
Since Sept. 11, many other business lobbyists have taken old pleas for federal help and turned them into new arguments for spending to combat terrorism. 

Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, is amused by the efforts to profit from patriotism.

"No self-respecting lobbyist," he said, has not "repackaged his position as a patriotic response to the tragedy."

This, he said, is what he is hearing:

"The challenge is terrorism. The answer is re-establish telecommunications monopolies."

"The challenge is terrorism. The answer is to drill for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge."

"The challenge is terrorism. The answer is a $15 billion retroactive tax break to scores of corporations."
The minute he arrived at work on the morning of Sept. 12, a top aide to a Democratic senator recalled, he received a call from a lobbyist for the airline industry pushing for a repeal of the federal tax on jet fuel to help the industry in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Over the next few days, the aide said, reading from his desk calendar and telephone logs, he heard from representatives of the travel, insurance, telecommunications and software industries, from lobbyists for farmers, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers, and from several military contractors.

None of them asked for anything different from what they had sought from Congress before, the aide said, but all had new pitches presenting their cases as responses to the attacks.

Until Sept. 11, money was scarce. President Bush and Congress had said they would save the surplus in the Social Security accounts. But now, fiscal discipline has been played down, budget deficits are the order of the day and companies, unions and the range of interest groups want a slice of a vast new stimulus-military- bioterrorism-homeland defense pie.

The idea of making money from the attacks sounds so crass that few lobbyists are willing to talk about it openly. But James Albertine, a lobbyist who represents companies, trade associations and nonprofit organizations, was remarkably frank. "What happened was a tragedy, certainly, but there are opportunities," Mr. Albertine said. "We're in business. This is not a charity."

Paul C. Light, director of government studies at the Brookings Institution, put it directly. "This is the best of times for lobbyists," Mr. Light said. "All of a sudden, they are in a position where they can sell their clients on the possibility of success."

Some of the lobbyists have such clear cases that their clients were damaged by the terrorism and need immediate relief that the government has already come through or seems very likely to. The $15 billion package of aid and loan guarantees for the airline industry, enacted in September, is an example, although some critics have assailed its size.

Insurance companies, which were busily lobbying in the House last week, can expect some form of federal protection against large losses from future terrorist attacks, although it remains unclear what form the aid will take. New York City has a strong claim for federal assistance to rebuild the devastated area, though the amount of money that will be available is a matter of considerable dispute.

As for economic stimulus, the Republican package the House of Representatives approved in October was made up principally of corporate tax breaks: larger write-offs for investments in plants and equipment, retroactive repeal of the alternative minimum tax, tax savings for financial services companies with operations abroad and a lower capital gains tax.

Michael Baroody, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers, made this argument for how cutting corporate taxes would help revive the economy: "Companies are either going to invest the extra money in equipment, or they're going to invest it in jobs."

But even Mr. Baroody, who put together a coalition of corporate lobbyists to press for prospective repeal of the minimum tax — a measure enacted in 1986 to make sure profitable companies could not escape income taxes — did not defend the House plan for repealing it retroactively. That plan, denounced by Democrats, would result in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds to corporations, including International Business Machines, General Motors and General Electric.

Here are some other commercial interests that have adjusted their pitches in response to the attacks:

  • The travel industry is seeking a temporary $1,000 tax credit per family to help offset vacation expenses.
  • Boeing , with the Marine Corps, is pressing Congress and the Pentagon to revive the V-22 Osprey, an experimental aircraft that has been grounded because of fatal crashes.
  • Verizon Communications wants to lift federal rules that give smaller competitors access to its network. The company argues that its success in restoring telephone service to Lower Manhattan demonstrates the importance to the nation of large telecommunications companies.
  • Farm lobbyists are portraying a subsidy bill as a safety net for farmers in the recession and a bulwark against disruptions in food supplies in war time. Once called the Agriculture Act of 2001, it has been renamed the Farm Security Act of 2001.
Many, maybe most, of these proposals will never become law or public policy. But that is not so important to lobbyists, said Charles Peters, the founding editor of The Washington Monthly magazine and a cryptographer of the codes of Washington. "I can hear them saying, `Oh, God, we fought hard on this amendment,' " Mr. Peters said. " `We got it through the House. That's worth another $2 million in billing.' "

When the Senate took up a bill to extend the moratorium on sales taxes on purchases over the Internet, both sides tried to take advantage of how times had changed. Those who wanted to end the moratorium said states needed the sales tax revenue because of their new expenses for homeland security. And those who wanted to continue the moratorium said taxes would further depress sales that have dropped since Sept. 11.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

Published on Monday, December 3, 2001 in the Boston Globe
by Susan Milligan
WASHINGTON - The terrorist attack on the nation has shaken most members of Congress into an uncharacteristic state: silence.

There is virtually no criticism on Capitol Hill of the American war effort or military strategy. Democrats and Republicans have paraded their patriotism, shying away from criticizing President Bush, even on matters not directly related to terrorism or the war.

'We go through periods where it's fashionable to blow the whistle, and then it becomes unpatriotic to blow the whistle. There's a sense now that it's political suicide to object
Christopher Pyle
Professor and constitutional expert at Mount Holyoke College
While a few lawmakers are raising questions about Bush's plans for military tribunals to try alleged terrorists, civil libertarians say they have been surprised and disappointed in how some of their strongest allies in Congress have acquiesced to administration demands for more law enforcement powers.

''There are a lot of people who would otherwise be jumping up and down who are saying, `Let's give the government the benefit of the doubt on this,''' said Kit Gage of the First Amendment Foundation. ''There's a sense of `We've got to stick together on this stuff,' and it didn't matter what `this' was.''

The response on Capitol Hill is overwhelmingly backed up by the American public, political analysts note. Polls have shown strong support for the president, as well as for the use of military tribunals and a willingness to give up personal freedoms for the sake of national security.

''I think in this case, it's understandable why there's almost no dissent. This is a case when people came over here and just murdered 6,000 innocent people,'' said former Democratic Senator George McGovern.

McGovern, who was recently named to a new UN post as ambassador for global hunger, said he has personal concerns about the civil liberties implications of the antiterrorism law. But with people still in shock over the events of Sept. 11, he said ''it's going to be a long while for people to substitute a more reasoned, discriminating view of what's going on.''

Lawmakers who have challenged the administration, even in the mildest of ways, have suffered the consequences. Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, received threats at her office after she was the only member of Congress to vote against giving Bush the right to use force to punish terrorists or prevent future acts of terrorism.

Representatives Martin Meehan, Democrat of Lowell, and Richard Neal, Democrat of Springfield, were stunned at the vitriolic response when each was quoted making relatively tame statements about Bush. Meehan had suggested soon after the attacks that there was no evidence a terrorist-piloted plane was headed toward Air Force One - a view that turned out to be correct. Neal had remarked casually that Bush's oratory skills weren't up to those of his predecessor.

''People read Marty Meehan's comments and they recognized the fallout. Barbara Lee is another case in point,'' said Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, who defended both colleagues for speaking their minds.

Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, was the only senator to vote against the antiterrorism package on the floor, and watched as his own party's majority leader urged Democrats and Republicans to table Feingold's amendments modifying the package - essentially disallowing debate on them.

''I have to answer questions about why I voted against the USA Patriot Act,'' Feingold said, referring to the title of the antiterrorism law. Feingold said he was disappointed at the dearth of opposition to the law.

''There's no dissent. There's 100 percent patriotism,'' said Jim Jordan, executive director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, predicting ''a lot of ads with flag imagery'' in next year's congressional campaigns.

In a memo to Democratic clients, political consultants James Carville, Stan Greenberg, and Bob Shrum urged their party's candidates to tread carefully in attacking Bush personally, suggesting they instead make House Republicans a target on such matters as the economy.

Appeals to patriotism have driven a number of recent legislative initiatives on Capitol Hill, including the use-of-force resolution, the appropriation of $40 billion for post-attack cleanup and security, and a $15 billion airline bailout bill. Even an agricultural aid package was titled the ''Farm Security Act,'' and a bill passed Thursday in the House to protect insurance companies from liability in terrorism-related cases was dubbed the ''Terrorism Risk Protection Act."

When New York State House members pleaded for more recovery money, House Appropriations Committee chairman Bill Young, Republican of Florida, told committee members they would appear disloyal to the commander-in-chief if they defied his demand to add no new spending.

Backing for some of the administration's actions has even come from staunch liberals who had attacked the civil liberties record of Attorney General John Ashcroft when he was nominated.
House minority leader Richard Gephardt, Democrat of Missouri, said last week he thought the plan to question 5,000 men with Middle Eastern backgrounds in America was ''a necessary policy ... to keep people safe.''

A cadre of lawmakers in both chambers of Congress has sharply questioned the use of the military tribunals, and asked Ashcroft to answer questions about Bush's military order at a Thursday hearing. The outcry represents the first serious challenge Congress has made of the administration's response to the terrorist attacks.

Ashcroft is also likely to be questioned about reports he is considering expanding FBI powers to include more surveillance of religious groups and political organizations.

Christopher Pyle, a professor and constitutional expert at Mount Holyoke College, noted that historically, dissent has developed slowly. Opposition to the Japanese internment camps during World War II, to McCarthyism in the 1950s, and to the Vietnam War in the 1970s started slowly, with just a few detractors, he said.

''We go through periods where it's fashionable to blow the whistle, and then it becomes unpatriotic to blow the whistle. There's a sense now that it's political suicide to object,'' Pyle said.

''It's wartime, and it's a fairly unique war in recent US history, in that we all feel personally threatened,'' said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. ''Members of Congress are reluctant to be seen undermining the president's ability to wage the war.''

© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company

Published on Tuesday, December 4, 2001 in the Guardian of London
by Simon Tisdall in Washington

The Bush administration rejected calls last night for the US to rein in the government of Ariel Sharon, despite escalating Israeli attacks in the Occupied Territories, and reiterated its demand that Yasser Arafat do more to crack down on the Palestinian hardliners held responsible for the weekend terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa."Obviously Israel has a right to defend itself and the president understands that," Ari Fleischer, President Bush's White House spokesman, said when asked how the US viewed the Israeli missile strikes in Gaza and the West Bank.

"This is a real opportunity for Chairman Arafat to show in actions, not words, that he will take action that is enduring and meaningful against the terrorists and those who sponsor the terrorist attacks that took place in Israel."

Israel Attacks
Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes hit the Palestinian security headquarters in the Gaza Strip December 4, 2001. Israel attacked Palestinian cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday, hitting just beyond Yasser Arafat's main West Bank headquarters while he was inside, but he was not hurt. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah 
Mr Fleischer added that Mr Bush "has believed for quite a period of time that Yasser Arafat is capable of doing much more than he has ever done, and now the burden is on him to show it... It's important that Chairman Arafat move beyond where he has been before - to take concrete actions, to show that this is not the way for the future and it should not be the way of the present."

But Mr Fleischer drew attention to remarks by Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, on Sunday when he urged both sides to think about the consequences of what they do in the heat of the moment. "It's important that whatever actions are taken, that all parties need to consider the repercussions of the actions so that peace can still be achieved," he said.

It was unclear how long the US will be content to stay on the sidelines if the Israeli attacks increase and the casualty toll grows. Mr Fleischer said the situation was being monitored closely. But in the meantime, the tenor of the White House's remarks, putting all the onus on Mr Arafat, and the absence of any form of caution or rebuke to Mr Sharon, strengthened the impression that Mr Bush had given the green light for Israel's retaliatory actions when he held private talks in Washington on Sunday with Mr Sharon.

The administration's choice of emphasis will also increase concern in the Arab world that despite its efforts to revive the Middle East peace process, and its dispatch of two senior envoys to the region in the past week, the US cannot act as an impartial peace-broker.

Mr Fleischer refused to accept a reporter's suggestion equating Mr Arafat with Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader in Afghanistan. But senior US officials, speaking off the record, have increasingly likened terrorist attacks in Israel to the anti-American activities of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network and have questioned Mr Arafat's commitment (and ability) to end the violence.

Israeli spokesmen, and the former Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who is visiting the US, have repeatedly tried to draw a parallel between their conflict with Palestinian extremists and the broader US war on terrorism.

Although it was too early to speak of a definitive pro-Israeli shift in policy, the Bush administration's apparent acquiescence in Israel's actions yesterday and its refusal to respond to appeals by Palestinian officials for American intervention were seen in Washington as a clear sign that Mr Bush's position is hardening.

Despite yesterday's violence, the US says the attempt by its special envoy, former Marine General Anthony Zinni, to help mediate a new ceasefire will continue for now.

Mr Powell warned at the weekend that Mr Arafat and his Palestinian Authority risked being overthrown by extremists unless they took effective steps to stop suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks on Israel. He said Mr Arafat was facing "a moment of truth".

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001

Published on Tuesday, December 4, 2001 in the Boston Globe
by Jim Geraghty, States News Service

WASHINGTON - Members of Congress wear lapel pins, and their staff and members of the media wear laminated credentials around their neck. Lobbyists now want their own badges for quick, unhindered access to the Capitol.

Lobbyists are growing frustrated with long lines at entrances and at delays from new security procedures, which were implemented after threats of terrorist attacks and anthrax-laced mail.

''When there's a meeting in an hour, the question then becomes whether you have to go through an elaborate process to participate in a public meeting or to walk through the halls of Congress,'' said Jim Albertine, president of the American League of Lobbyists.

Albertine and colleagues argue that given the frenetic pace of Congress, where meetings and hearings are called, canceled, and rescheduled unpredictably, lobbyists need unrestricted access to most parts of the Capitol building and to legislators' offices.

There is no formal proposal, and establishing a new credentialing system would take at least several weeks. Many public officials and agencies are expected to weigh in on the decision, including the architect of the Capitol, the Capitol Police, the Secret Service, the House and Senate leadership, and several congressional committees.

Groups that support efforts to change campaign finance are wary of the idea of special badges and special access for lobbyists.

''It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, because it separates lobbyists as special and separate from the average person,'' said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Lobbyists argue that the lack of access means that Congress is less informed. ''Members of Congress know that you have to talk to lobbyists because nobody knows their issue as well as they do,'' said John Haddow, vice president of the lobbying firm of Parry, Romani, DeConcini and Symms. Haddow worked as legislative director for Senator Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, from 1976 to 1983.

Albertine argued that the current security restrictions could increase the power of the wealthiest special interests, and leave other groups that are less well-funded - such as lobbyists for consumers, the elderly, or environmental interests - out in the cold.

The current measures have created a two-tiered world for lobbying firms, between groups who employ former members and those that do not. Former legislators face few access restrictions. Haddow said that when he goes to Capitol Hill with other members of his firm, such as former Senator Dennis DeConcini, the Arizona Democrat, he is waved through security checkpoints. Alone, he has much less access and far longer delays.

© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company

Published on Tuesday, December 4, 2001 in the Washington Post
Business Lobbyists Asked To Discuss Onerous Rules
GOP Aide Identifies 57 Regulations to Target
by Michael Grunwald
Republican congressional aide Barbara Kahlow sent the e-mail to a dozen business lobbyists on Sept. 26: "Here's our non-public chart," it said. She underlined "non-public" and put it in boldface."This was hush-hush, behind-closed-doors stuff," one of the lobbyists recalled.

Kahlow explained in her e-mail that President Bush's new regulatory czar, John D. Graham, had "asked me to convene key lobbyists to identify and rank" regulations that business groups found overly burdensome.

The e-mail and the chart were provided to The Washington Post by a lobbyist who attended the meeting, in the House Rayburn Building. The lobbyist said he was disturbed by what he perceived as an "underhanded" campaign to use obscure paperwork guidelines as a back-door mechanism to gut long-established regulations.
Her chart listed 57 of the most paperwork-intensive rules the business community wants to target. The rules, which deal with health, safety and the environment, govern everything from pesticide use to coal-mine ventilation, to standards for blood-borne pathogens. They cover such areas as air and water quality, food labeling, lead-paint disclosure, truck safety inspections, toxic-release reporting, and family and medical leave.

Graham, who became administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget in July, after a nasty confirmation fight, acknowledged last week that he had invited Kahlow and others to let him know about overly burdensome regulations. But he said he had not seen Kahlow's chart of 57 "sunset review candidates" and pledged not to change any regulations without input from affected agencies and the public.

Still, the chart and other documents from a fledgling anti-paperwork campaign provide another glimpse of behind-the-scenes strategy-setting by business lobbyists and conservative Republicans in government, during the Bush administration. In April, an industry memo urged lobbyists to get "DRESSED DOWN" like "REAL WORKER types" for an event promoting the GOP tax cut's impact on blue-collar families. In May, an energy lobbyist asking people to pay $5,000 to join a corporate coalition to push the president's energy bill warned in a letter that absolute unity was a must: "I have been advised that this White House will 'have a long memory.' "

Now there is Kahlow's e-mail announcing an Oct. 2 meeting with trade-group lobbyists and GOP staffers to discuss the 57 regulations. "We intend to share the group's list with [Graham] confidentially," wrote Kahlow, who served for 25 years as an OIRA official before becoming deputy director of the House subcommittee overseeing federal regulations. Her e-mail went out to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Business Roundtable, the American Farm Bureau, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Associated General Contractors of America and the Small Business Survival Committee.

The e-mail and the chart were provided to The Washington Post by a lobbyist who attended the meeting, in the House Rayburn Building. The lobbyist said he was disturbed by what he perceived as an "underhanded" campaign to use obscure paperwork guidelines as a back-door mechanism to gut long-established regulations. He said he was told that the campaign had Graham's blessing, if not his fingerprints. The campaign is being run out of the House Government Reform subcommittee on energy policy, natural resources and regulatory affairs, which is chaired by Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.), who is Kahlow's boss.

"This was a secret campaign to circumvent the process," said the lobbyist, who asked not to be named. "With Graham in that job, we figured we could get whatever we want."

Graham's background proved controversial when he was named to oversee the federal government's various rules. He founded the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, a think tank that is funded in large part by industry groups and individual businesses and that has argued that many regulations and policies are misguided.

Graham's nomination as head of OIRA was opposed by liberal groups and Democrats, who declared him an enemy of regulations. He responded that he supported cost-effective, science-based regulations that promoted public health and welfare and was confirmed by a 61-37 vote.

In September, he signaled his intent to take an activist role in a memo to his staff, warning that "if not properly developed, regulations can lead to an enormous burden on the economy."

In an interview, though, Graham said trade groups might be surprised if they think they will get "whatever they want" in his tenure. He said he had invited business lobbyists and congressional aides to approach him to discuss bad regulations, but that he did not remember telling Kahlow to "convene key lobbyists" to pursue candidates for "paperwork & regulatory burden reduction," as her e-mail said. And echoing a point made by his liberal critics, he emphasized that just because a regulation is onerous does not mean it is bad.

"I am happy to meet personally with lobbyists of all stripes to discuss burdensome paperwork and regulatory requirements," Graham said. "However, OMB will not order changes without considering the public benefits of these requirements."

Joan Claybrook, president of the advocacy group Public Citizen, said she wasn't surprised that Graham didn't remember telling Kahlow to convene lobbyists. She said he often replied to questions at his confirmation hearing by saying that he didn't remember. She warned that the Bush administration and its supporters in the business community had launched a campaign to roll back health and safety regulations that protect ordinary people from corporate malfeasance.

"There's no question where all this is headed," she said. "These lobbyists have no shame."

Kahlow declined to comment. But it is no secret that business-friendly Republicans in general and on Ose's committee in particular have pushed to rein in regulations and paperwork. In August, Graham's staff gave Kahlow a computer printout of government rules that produced more than 1 million hours of paperwork a year. Ose then asked OMB to evaluate some of them, governing new drugs, sewage sludge disposal and "safety management of highly hazardous chemicals."

Kahlow then whittled the printout down to 57 "candidates for discussion" before the Oct. 2 meeting. The goal, several attendees said, was not just to reduce unnecessary paperwork, but to persuade Graham to use little-known provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act to try to weaken paperwork-intensive regulations.

Jim Tozzi, Kahlow's former boss at OIRA, said in an interview that he used to do just that, using paperwork technicalities as an excuse to review otherwise untouchable rules. "I have to plead guilty to that," said Tozzi, who is now on the advisory board at the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness. "The paperwork is a way in, you know?"

Another lobbyist who attended the Oct. 2 meeting said that even though Graham was not present, he was almost there in spirit.

"There was the implication that it was something he would want done, if you catch the fine line there," said this lobbyist, who also asked not to be named.

But Bill Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president for regulatory affairs, said that even though his group supported the goal of reducing government regulations, it was not impressed with the strategies floated on Oct. 2. He supports a more systematic attack.

"You can't just put 57 regulations on the table and say, 'Go to it,' " said Kovacs, who did not attend the Oct. 2 meeting but sent three staffers. "It would be political suicide."

Some of the 57 regulations, after all, are potentially inflammatory. For example, some business groups would like to reshape the Family and Medical Leave Act to stop parents from taking their leave in small increments, but that could have significant political consequences. Unions would fight any changes to the so-called Davis-Bacon prevailing-wage rules on government construction projects. The Bush administration might be reluctant to tinker with food labeling rules, "needlestick safety" standards for hospital workers and community right-to-know requirements that force industries to disclose their toxic chemicals.

But regardless of the politics, the business community believes that many regulations provide negligible benefits to consumers or workers while inflicting unbearable costs to entrepreneurs. Larry Fineran, a National Association of Manufacturers lobbyist who attended the Oct. 2 meeting, said that paperwork was as good a place to start slimming down as any.

"The cost is just enormous," Fineran said. "And so far, nobody's done much about it."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

Published on Thursday, December 6, 2001 by Agence France Presse
The United States offered full and direct approval to Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor, a move by then-president Suharto which consigned the territory to 25 years of oppression, official documents released Thursday show.The documents prove conclusively for the first time that the United States gave a 'green light' to the invasion, the opening salvo in an occupation that cost the lives of up to 200,000 East Timorese.

General Suharto briefed US president Gerald Ford and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger on his plans for the former Portuguese colony hours before the invasion, according to documents collected by George Washington University's National Security Archive.

When Ford and Kissinger called in Jakarta on their way back from a summit in Beijing on December 6, 1975, Suharto claimed that in the interests of Asia and regional stability, he had to bring stability to East Timor, to which Portugal was trying to grant autonomy.

"We want your understanding if we deem it necessary to take rapid or drastic action," Suharto told his visitors, according to a long classified State Department cable.

Ford replied: "We will understand and will not press you on the issue. We understand the problem you have and the intentions you have."

Kissinger, who has denied the subject of Timor came up during the talks, appeared to be concerned about the domestic political implications of an Indonesian invasion.

"It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly, we would be able to influence the reaction in America if whatever happens, happens after we return.

"The president will be back on Monday at 2:00 pm Jakarta time. We understand your problem and the need to move quickly but I am only saying that it would be better, if it were done after we returned."
The invasion took place on December 7, the day after the Ford-Suharto meeting.

Kissinger has consistently rejected criticism of the Ford Administration's conduct on East Timor.
During a launch in 1995 for his book "Diplomacy," Kissinger said at a New York hotel it was perhaps "regrettable" that for US officials, the implications of Indonesia's Timor policy were lost in a blizzard of geopolitical issues following the Vietnam War.

"Timor was never discussed with us when we were in Indonesia," Kissinger said, according to a transcript of the meeting distributed by the East Timor Action network -- which advocated independence for East Timor.

"At the airport as we were leaving, the Indonesians told us that they were going to occupy the Portuguese colony of Timor. To us that did not seem like a very significant event."

The documents also show that Kissinger was concerned at the use of US weapons by Indonesia during the East Timor invasion.

By law, the arms could only be used in self defense, but it appears that Kissinger was concerned mostly on the interpretation of the legislation -- not the use of the weapons.

"It depends on how we construe it, whether it is in self-defense or is a foreign operation," he is quoted as saying.

The eastern part of the island of Timor, situated north of the Australian coast, was invaded by Jakarta in 1975 and annexed the following year.

After a 25-year independence campaign and guerrilla war, the territory voted overwhelmingly for independence in August 1999 in a referendum which triggered a wave of murderous violence by pro-Jakarta militias.

Copyright © 2001 AFP

Published on Friday, December 7, 2001 by Reuters

GENEVA - The United States forced an international conference on germ warfare to break up in disarray on Friday, angering even its European allies.In a bid to save face, the review conference of the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention agreed to suspend work for a year until November 2002 after Washington tabled what one European delegate called a "conference breaker.''

In a last-minute proposal, Washington formally demanded the winding up of a committee that had spent years trying to negotiate a deal to give teeth to a 1972 pact outlawing biological weapons.

The U.S. move, which caught even European Union states by surprise, came just an hour before the formal end of the three-week-long meeting aimed at finding ways to strengthen the 30-year-old pact.
"They have fired a missile at the conference. We are deeply disappointed,'' said one senior European diplomat.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited

Published on Friday, December 7, 2001 in the Boston Globe

WASHINGTON - A defiant Attorney General John D. Ashcroft chided his opponents yesterday, telling members of a Senate committee that critics of a Justice Department crackdown ''aid terrorists'' and undermine national unity.

Ashcroft asserted that in the case of the adminstration's detention of noncitizens and its plan to try suspected terrorists before military tribunals Congress has only limited oversight. He flatly said that he would not tell the senators everything they want to know about the detainees or about his policy recommendations to President Bush.

''We need honest, reasoned debate, not fear-mongering,'' said Ashcroft, the sole witness at the packed hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

''To those who pit Americans against immigrants and citizens against noncitizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve,'' he said. ''They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends.''

The former Republican senator from Missouri also gave no ground on complying with congressional requests for more consultation on counterterrorism policies.

''The advice I give to the president, whether in his role as commander-in-chief or in any other capacity, is privileged and confidential,'' Ashcroft told his former colleagues during nearly four hours of grueling questioning. ''In some areas ... I cannot and will not consult with you.''

But the senators were not cowed, and several Democrats and Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania grilled Ashcroft about his department's decision to deny an FBI request for the gun records of terrorist suspects in custody.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, pointed out that the Justice Department has been willing to bend Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures to help the FBI track down terrorism suspects.

''Why is it, when we get to the Second Amendment, there's such a blind eye at the Justice Department?'' Durbin asked, referring to the constitutional right to bear arms.

Ashcroft said that current law does not allow the Justice Department to turn over gun records to counterterrorism investigators at the FBI. He refused to endorse proposed legislation that would expand federal power to track guns.

The attorney general has been criticized by civil liberties groups and a few members of Congress for the Justice Department's handling of the detention of nearly 1,200 individuals since Sept. 11. The department has withheld many details about the individuals held and the charges against them.

While Ashcroft and other Justice Department officials have maintained that the detainees' rights are being protected, there is anecdotal evidence that some were kept incommunicado or allowed only limited access to diplomats from their home countries, family members, and lawyers.

The administration has also been criticized for President Bush's order allowing military tribunals to decide cases against noncitizens suspected of committing or aiding terrorist acts.

Defending the need for military tribunals, Ashcroft said, ''When we come upon those responsible in Afghanistan, are we supposed to read them Miranda rights, hire a flamboyant defense lawyer, bring them back to the United States, create a new cable network of Osama TV or what have you, and provide a worldwide platform from which propaganda can be developed?''

Senators peppered Ashcroft with questions and demanded commitments that the detainees would be afforded constitutional rights and that the military tribunals would be conducted publicly, with defendants allowed to present an adequate defense. Ashcroft hedged on both requests, noting that the final guidelines for the military tribunals have not been written.

''History has shown that military courts have been effective, but they also show they've been abused,'' said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. ''This time, we want to get it right.''
Civil libertarians and some lawmakers are upset about elements of Bush's military order that provide for secret trials and lower standards of proof than those used in criminal courts and allow a tribunal to convict a defendant and sentence him to death by a two-thirds vote, without right of appeal. Civilian courts require a unanimous verdict in capital cases and allow appeals.

Graham Watson, a member of the European Parliament who attended the hearing, said the US use of military tribunals could interfere with efforts to extradite suspected terrorists from European countries.
Extradition ''would be, I think, no problem if the trials were in normal civilian court,'' said Watson, chairman of the Justice Committee of the European Parliament. ''It seems to me that rights would not be respected or could not be guaranteed to be respected under military tribunals. Clearly the two sides of the Atlantic are at risk of being on a collision course.''

But while members of the Judiciary Committee questioned some of the details of Bush's proposal, most members generally supported the use of tribunals.

The Judiciary Committee's chairman - Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont - offered a proposal to allow military courts to try terrorism suspects, but with more safeguards, including a presumption of innocence, the right to an independent lawyer, and open proceedings except when national security might be compromised.

Leahy's proposal would limit the use of military courts to members of Al Qaeda or to other terrorists suspected of specific involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks, with the determination made by a US District Court judge, rather than the attorney general. Ashcroft said he would study the proposal.

In response to a question from Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, Ashcroft said he could not guarantee that every detainee would have legal representation because the government is not required to pay for lawyers in immigration cases.

Ashcroft declined to discuss possible legal action against John Phillip Walker Lindh, the US citizen who has admitted fighting for the Taliban. Nor would the attorney general agree to release the names of all detainees, although he acknowledged that no law prevents him from doing so.

© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company

Published on Saturday, December 8, 2001 by Ananova News (UK)

The new Secretary General of Amnesty International is visiting Pakistan to highlight the plight of Afghan refugees.Irene Khan is due in Peshawar to visit refugee camps and meet Afghan victims of human rights abuse.

The visit comes after Amnesty called for an inquiry into the mass prison killings in Qala-i-Jhanghi fort.
It follows new video footage of events shortly before the deaths at the fort near Mazar-e-Sharif
Hundreds of Taliban and al Qaida fighters were killed in the uprising last month.

"The reported conduct of the CIA operatives is disturbing, specifically the apparent threat of execution.
"All personnel involved in the custody and interrogation of prisoners should be fully aware that death threats against prisoners violate international human rights and humanitarian law.

"The US, UK and United Front should reconsider their position and hold an inquiry without further delay.
"Amnesty International has suggested that they consider calling on the UN or the International Fact-Finding Commission to conduct a preliminary inquiry."

Copyright © 2001 Ananova Ltd


Published on Saturday, December 8, 2001 by Agence France Presse

The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee warned the United States and its allies that extending their war on terrorism to Iraq and other states would be a recipe for disaster.

Might is not right. If it is utterly reprehensible that innocent civilians were targeted in New York and Washington (on September 11), how could we possibly say it doesn't apply elsewhere in the world ( in a reference to civilian casualties in Afghanistan).
Desmond Tutu
South African Archbishop
 Concluding a three-day symposium of Nobel Peace Prize laureates at which the war in Afghanistan was a frequent theme, Gunnar Berge joined several of them in sharply criticizing the military action despite its success in ousting the widely decried Taliban regime.

"If that which is hailed as a success by so many is an encouragement to continue by the same means into other countries like Somalia, Sudan, Yemen (and) Iraq, then I think we have only seen the beginning of disaster," said Berge, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee which awards the peace prize.

"The victory of terrorism is if we respond in the language and the means of terrorist and we should not do that," he said.

US President George W Bush and other officials have vowed to pursue their "war on terrorism" launched in response to the September 11 attacks on the United States to any countries harboring the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in the US assaults.

US officials have specifically spoken of Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen as suspected providers of refuge for al-Qaeda activities.

Several Nobel laureates spoke critically of the US-led military offensive against Afghanistan, where bin Laden is based, including retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who closed out the three-day symposium here marking the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize.

"Might is not right," he said. "If it is utterly reprehensible that innocent civilians were targeted in New York and Washington (on September 11), how could we possibly say it doesn't apply elsewhere in the world," he said in a reference to civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

But other peace prize winners openly defended the US response, including East Timor independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta and Elie Wiesel.

"I have supported from the beginning the US actions against the Taliban and bin Laden," Ramos-Horta said.

Copyright © 2001 AFP

Published on Monday, December 10, 2001 by the BBC

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has warned the United States not to take action against Iraq as part of its declared war on terrorism."Any attempt or any decision to attack Iraq today will be unwise in that it can lead to a major escalation in the region and I would hope that will not be the case," he said.

The secretary general aslo said that the UN Security Council would need to consider any such action.
He added that the only way to defeat terrorism was through long-term international co-operation.
Mr Annan was speaking in the Norwegian capital Oslo, where he will be presented on Monday with the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts by the UN to work for a more peaceful world.

Washington has expressed concern that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is seeking new weapons of mass destruction.

US Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday that Washington had still to decide "as to how we proceed to make certain the United States is not vulnerable to that kind of attack".

The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had previously sought to calm speculation about widening US military action, saying there were no immediate plans to attack Iraq as part of the campaign against terrorism.

Afghanistan warning

Mr Annan said it felt "almost indecent" to receive the Nobel Peace Prize amid so many international conflicts.

He added that the current situation in Afghanistan remained very difficult, although details of a new multinational stabilisation force would shortly become clearer.

The country would "require the involvement of the international community for a long time to come", he said.

"I only hope that our attention will not wander."

Copyright 2001 BBC

Published on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 in the Baltimore Sun
Anthrax Matches Army Spores
Bioterror: Organisms made at a military laboratory in Utah are genetically identical to those mailed to members of Congress.
by Scott Shane

For nearly a decade, U.S. Army scientists at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have made small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax that is virtually identical to the powdery spores used in the mail attacks that have killed five people, government sources say.Until the anthrax attacks led to tighter security measures, anthrax grown at Dugway was regularly sent by Federal Express to the Army's biodefense center at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, where the bacteria were killed using gamma radiation before being returned to Dugway for experiments.

The anthrax was shipped in the form of a coarse paste, not in the far more dangerous finely milled form, according to one government official.

Most anthrax testing at Dugway, in a barren Utah desert 87 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, is done using the killed spores to reduce the chance of accidental exposure of workers there.

But some experiments require live anthrax, milled to the tiny particle size expected on a battlefield, to test both decontamination techniques and biological agent detection systems, the sources say.
Anthrax is also grown at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, where it is used chiefly to test the effectiveness of vaccines in animals.

But that medical program uses a wet aerosol fog of anthrax rather than the dry powder used in the attacks and at Dugway, according to interviews and medical journal articles based on the research.
The wet anthrax, while still capable of killing people, is safer for laboratory workers to handle, scientists say.

Dugway's production of weapons-grade anthrax, which has never before been publicly revealed, is apparently the first by the U.S. government since President Richard M. Nixon ordered the U.S. offensive biowarfare program closed in 1969.

Scientists familiar with the anthrax program at Dugway described it to The Sun on the condition that they not be named.

The offensive program made hundreds of kilograms of anthrax for bombs designed to kill enemy troops over hundreds of square miles.

Dugway's Life Sciences Division makes the deadly spores in far, far smaller quantities, rarely accumulating more than 10 grams at a time, according to one Army official.

Scientists estimate that the letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle originally contained about 2 grams of anthrax, about one-sixteenth of an ounce, or the weight of a dime.

But its extraordinary concentration - in the range of 1 trillion spores per gram - meant that the letter could have contained 200 million times the average dose necessary to kill a person.

Dugway's weapons-grade anthrax has been milled to achieve a similar concentration, according to one person familiar with the program.

The concentration exceeds that of weapons anthrax produced by the old U.S. offensive program or the Soviet biowarfare program, according to Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, who worked at Detrick for 18 years and later served as a United Nations bioweapons inspector in Iraq

Lab security measures

No evidence linking the Dugway anthrax to the attacks has been made public, and there might well be none. Army officials say the anthrax there and at Fort Detrick has long been protected by multiple security measures.

The FBI has extensively questioned Dugway employees who have had access to anthrax, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Agents also have questioned people at Fort Detrick and other government and university laboratories that have used the Ames strain of anthrax found in the letters.

Still, the analysis of the genetic and physical properties of the anthrax mailed to Daschle and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy has caused investigators to take a hard look at Dugway's anthrax program.

First, the genetic fingerprint of the mailed anthrax is indistinguishable from that of the Ames "reference strain," which is the strain used most often at Fort Detrick and Dugway, according to a scientist familiar with the genetic work.

Researchers led by Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University have compared the two samples and found them identical at 50 genetic markers - the most sensitive genetic identification method available.

That does not mean the mailed anthrax necessarily originated from an Army program, because Ames anthrax has been widely used at government and university laboratories in the United States and overseas

Shipped without records

While some sources have estimated Ames might have been used in as few as 20 labs, one scientist who has worked with anthrax said the total cannot be known exactly, but is probably closer to 50.
"Until the last few years, a graduate student would call up a friend at another lab and say, 'Send me Ames,' and they'd do it," the scientist said. "There wouldn't necessarily be any records kept."
Ames is similar to but distinct from the Vollum1B strain of anthrax used in the old U.S. offensive biological weapons program.
The genetic testing proves the mailed anthrax was not left over from the old program, most scientists agree.
Even more provocative than the genetics are the physical properties of the mailed anthrax. While some scientists disagree, many bioterrorism experts argue that the quality of the mailed anthrax is such that it could have been produced only in a weapons program or using information from such a program.

Link to Dugway base

If true, that would greatly limit the field, increasing the likelihood of a link to the only site in the United States where weapons-grade anthrax has been made in recent years.

Dugway, which is larger than Rhode Island, has been a military testing ground since World War II, when military officials selected it for its remote location in Utah's Great Salt Lake Desert.

The Dugway anthrax program was launched in the early 1990s, shortly after the Persian Gulf war reawakened U.S. military commanders to the threat from biological weapons.

Iraq is known to have built a major bioweapons program that included anthrax in its potential arsenal.
According to Dugway's Web site, the proving ground's Life Sciences Division has an aerosol technology branch and a biotechnology branch, both of which use a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory designed to contain pathogens.

Anthrax and other dangerous germs at Dugway are guarded by video cameras, intrusion alarms, double locks and a buddy system that does not permit workers to handle the agents alone, according to one scientist.

But Dugway does not have a gamma radiation machine, which is why its anthrax has been shipped to Detrick for irradiation.

Dr. David L. Huxsoll, who headed Detrick's biodefense program in the 1980s, said vaccines and detection systems must be tested against aerosolized anthrax if troops are to be prepared for biological attacks.

"When you're building a program to defend against biological weapons on the battlefield, you have to be prepared for an aerosol exposure," he said.

Not a treaty violation

Milton Leitenberg, an expert on bioweapons at the University of Maryland, said he was not aware of the Dugway anthrax production.

But he said making a few grams of weapons-grade anthrax for testing defensive equipment would not violate the international convention on biological weapons.

The treaty bans the production of bioagents "of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective and other peaceful purposes."

"There's no specific limit in grams or micrograms," Leitenberg said. "But if you got up in the hundreds of grams, people would be very, very skeptical."

The FBI's investigation, called Amerithrax, has focused on the possibility that the anthrax terrorist might be a loner in this country with some scientific training.

The Sun reported Sunday that in two months, none of the hundreds of FBI agents on the case had contacted the Army retirees who produced anthrax in the 1950s and 1960s.

Yesterday, one of those anthrax veterans, Orley R. Bourland Jr. of Walkersville, got a call from the White House Office of Homeland Security seeking information.

The FBI had not made contact with several veterans interviewed yesterday.

Copyright © 2001, The Baltimore Sun

Published on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 by Fox News
by Carl Cameron

WASHINGTON — Some 60 Israelis, who federal investigators have said are part of a long-running effort to spy on American government officials, are among the hundreds of foreigners detained since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Fox News has learned.The Israelis, a handful of whom are described as active Israeli military or intelligence operatives, have been detained on immigration charges or under the new Patriot Anti-Terrorism Law. Federal investigators said some of them failed polygraph questions inquiring about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States.

There is no indication the Israelis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared it.

A highly placed investigator told Fox News there are "tie-ins," but when asked for details flatly refused to describe them. "Evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified, I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It is classified information," the source said.

An Israeli Embassy spokesman offered categorical denials, and said any suggestion of Israelis spying on or in the United States is simply not true.

But Fox News has learned that one group of Israelis spotted in North Carolina recently is suspected of keeping an apartment in California to spy on a group of Arabs who the U.S. authorities are investigating for links to terrorism.

Numerous classified documents obtained by Fox News indicate that even prior to Sept. 11, as many as 140 other Israelis had been detained or arrested in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage by Israelis in the United States.

Investigators from numerous government agencies are part of a working group that has been compiling evidence in the case since the mid-1990s. These documents detail hundreds of incidents in cities and towns across the country that investigators say quote "may well be an organized intelligence-gathering activity."

Investigators are focusing part of their efforts on Israelis who said they are art students from the University of Jerusalem or Bezalel Academy and repeatedly made contact with U.S. government personnel by saying they wanted to sell cheap art or handiwork.

Documents say they "targeted" and penetrated military bases, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, dozens of government facilities and even secret offices and unlisted private homes of law enforcement and intelligence personnel.

Another part of the investigation has resulted in the detention and arrest of dozens of Israelis working at kiosks in American malls, where they had been selling toys called "Puzzlecar" and "Zoomcopter."
Investigators suspected a front. Shortly after the New York Times and Washington Post reported the detentions of Israelis on immigration charges last month, the carts began vanishing.

Why would Israelis spy in and on the United States?

A General Accounting Office investigation referred to Israel as Country A and said, "According to a U.S. intelligence agency, the government of country A conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the U.S. of any U.S. ally."

A Defense Intelligence report said Israel has a "voracious appetite for information."

"The Israelis are motivated by strong survival instincts which dictate every facet of their political and economic policies," the DIA report said. "It aggressively collects military and industrial technology and the U.S. is a high priority target.

"Israel possesses the resources and technical capability to achieve its collection objectives," the document concludes.

Copyright © 2001 Fox News Network, LLC

Published on Thursday, December 13, 2001 in the Baltimore Sun
by Scott Shane

The U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground confirmed last night that it has produced dry anthrax powder in recent years but said the anthrax has been "well-protected" and is all accounted for.The Dugway statement was issued in response to an article in The Sun yesterday revealing that the Army facility in the Utah desert has produced weapons-grade anthrax identical in important respects to the anthrax used in the postal attacks.

The statement is the first admission that any U.S. government program has produced the lethal dry powder since the offensive biological weapons program was closed in 1969.

"This is very significant," said Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a molecular biologist who heads a working group on biological weapons at the Federation of American Scientists. "There's never been an acknowledgment that any U.S. facility had weaponized anthrax."

Rosenberg, who has theorized that the anthrax in the letters might have come from a U.S. government program or contractor, said Dugway's assurances about security do not necessarily rule out leakage of the tiny amounts used in the bioterrorist attacks.

"The question is, could someone have gotten hold of a very small amount and used it in the letters?" said Rosenberg, of the State University of New York.

5 deaths since October

he term "weapons-grade" means that the anthrax particles are tiny enough - 1 to 5 microns - to be readily inhaled and deposited in the lungs.

A sufficient dose produces inhalation anthrax, which is blamed for killing five people since October.
Some of the anthrax produced by Dugway has matched the fine particle size and extraordinary concentration of the powder mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, estimated at close to 1 trillion spores per gram, according to a government scientist.

In addition, the mailed anthrax is genetically indistinguishable from the Ames strain used by the Army, the most sophisticated test methods show.

Neither the physical nor the genetic match proves that the terrorist used anthrax from Dugway.

Ames-strain anthrax has been used in numerous laboratories, and a person with microbiology training and access to the right equipment might have been able to concoct the deadly powder.

But many experts think it more likely that the attacks are linked to a government program, either in the United States or another country.

Staff questioned by FBI

The FBI appears to be taking seriously the possibility of a link to Dugway. Personnel working with anthrax, all of whom have been vaccinated against the bacteria, have been questioned at length by investigators.
A government official familiar with the Dugway program said about a half-dozen scientists there have the expertise to make dry anthrax. No one with such expertise has left the program in recent years, the official said.

The unsigned, two-page Dugway statement e-mailed to reporters last night says scientists there "routinely" make anthrax to test decontamination methods and equipment designed to detect biological agents. It confirms The Sun's report that most experiments use simulants or anthrax spores inactivated by radiation, but certain tests "must be performed with live agents."

It gives no details about the strain, production methods or physical qualities of the anthrax made at Dugway for aerosol testing.

'Rigorous tracking'

The statement confirms that anthrax in the form of a paste has been shipped for irradiation to the Army's biodefense center at Fort Detrick in Frederick. It says the shipments followed "stringent federal regulations" and never involved dry anthrax powder.

"All anthrax used at Dugway has been accounted for," the statement says. "There is a rigorous tracking and inventory program to follow the production, receipt and destruction of all select agents. The facility is well-protected with robust physical and personnel security systems."

The statement says the Army is cooperating with the FBI and "will not comment further on any aspect of its bio testing program" until the investigation concludes.

The Environmental Impact Statement prepared in 1992 for the Life Sciences Test Facility at Dugway, where much of the work is done, lists some of the biological agents to be used there. They include not only anthrax but also the bacteria that cause the diseases tularemia and Q fever, as well as the virus that causes Venezuelan equine encephalitis.

3 ounces at a time

For bacteria such as anthrax, the facility is limited to growing 100 milliliters, or 3 fluid ounces, at a time. The maximum concentration of spores would be 10 billion per milliliter, according to the Environmental Impact Statement.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed 18 cases of anthrax since October, including 11 inhalation and seven cutaneous, or skin, cases. No new case has been reported since that of 94-year-old Ottilie Lundgren, a Connecticut woman who died Nov. 21.

Copyright © 2001 by The Baltimore Sun

Published on Thursday, December 13, 2001 by Agence France Presse
by Scott Shane
Russia reacted to the imminent US pull-out from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty with resignation but dismay amid warnings the move could spark a nuclear arms race in Asia.Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov set the tone of Russia's official reaction, describing a likely US withdrawal from the 30-year-old treaty as "a cause for annoyance," but adding that Washington was within its rights to abrogate the Cold War era pact.

The head of Russia's armed forces, General Anatoly Kvashnin, said US plans to develop a controversial missile defense shield did not pose a threat to Moscow "at the military level" but predicted dire consequences from the demise of the ABM treaty.

"The Americans' pullout will alter the nature of the international strategic balance in freeing the hands of a series of countries to restart an arms build-up," said Kvashnin, chief of the Russian general staff.
Meanwhile, senior Russian lawmakers greeted the news from Washington with a mixture of hand-wringing over President Vladimir Putin's failure to save the ABM treaty and gloomy speculation about nuclear showdowns with China, India and Pakistan.

Vladimir Volkov, deputy head of the defense committee in Russia's State Duma, or lower house of parliament, warned that the US decision to develop a missile defense shield outlawed under the ABM could force China to beef up its strategic arsenal, thus prompting India and Pakistan to follow suit.
"All in all, the US move will spark a new nuclear arms race and lead to a reduction in the level of security," Volkov said.

He added that an American breach of ABM would "oblige Russia to reconsider" existing strategic arms reduction treaties (START) with the United States "in order to guarantee its own security."

President George W. Bush told top US lawmakers Wednesday that he would soon notify Russia that he planned to pull out of the ABM treaty in order to forge ahead with the missile shield fiercely opposed by Moscow, which sees the treaty as a "cornerstone" of global security.

The ABM treaty, signed by late presidents Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev, bars the United States and Russia from unilaterally developing missile defense shields under the premise that the threat of "mutually assured destruction" will prevent nuclear war.

However, the United States argues that the treaty is outdated and no longer takes into account post-Cold War considerations like the threat of a limited missile attack from "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iran.

Moscow would prefer to negotiate amendments to the treaty rather than abandon it altogether, Kasyanov told reporters during an official visit to Brazil on Wednesday.

Russian analysts acknowledged that US withdrawal from the treaty would pose a major test for Putin's new pro-Western foreign policy, unveiled in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Putin and Bush agreed to cut the number of nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 at their Texas summit last month.

The existing START II treaty envisages a reduction in the number of warheads to 3,500 by 2007.

Copyright © 2001 AFP

Published on Friday, December 14, 2001 in the Boston Globe
by Glen Johnson
WASHINGTON - President Bush yesterday invoked executive privilege to block a congressional subpoena exploring abuses in the Boston FBI office, prompting the chairman of a House committee to lambaste his fellow Republicans and triggering what one congressman said is the start of ''a constitutional confrontation.''

''We've got a dictatorial president and a Justice Department that does not want Congress involved...
Your guy's acting like he's king, ''

GOP Representative Dan Burton of Indiana (left) tells Carl Thorsen, a deputy assistant attorney general. (AP photo)
''You tell the president there's going to be war between the president and this committee,'' Dan Burton, the Indiana Republican who heads the House Government Reform Committee, told a Justice Department official during what was supposed to be a routine prehearing handshake.
''His dad was at a 90 percent approval rating and he lost, and the same thing can happen to him,'' Burton added, jabbing his finger and glaring at Carl Thorsen, a deputy assistant attorney general who was attempting to introduce a superior who was testifying.

''We've got a dictatorial president and a Justice Department that does not want Congress involved. ... Your guy's acting like he's king.''

The searing tone continued for more than four hours from Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. All objected to the order Bush signed Wednesday and made public yesterday. It claimed executive privilege in refusing to hand over prosecutors' memos in criminal cases, including an investigation of campaign-finance abuses, saying doing so ''would be contrary to the national interest.''

Committee members said the order's sweeping language created a shift in presidential policy and practices dating back to the Harding administration. They complained also that it followed a pattern in which the Bush administration has limited access to presidential historical records, refused to give Congress documents about the vice president's energy task force, and unilaterally announced plans for military commissions that would try suspected terrorists in secret.

Representative William D. Delahunt, a Quincy Democrat and former district attorney, said: ''This is the beginning of a constitutional confrontation. In a short period of time, this Department of Justice has manifested tendencies that were of concern to Senate members during the confirmation hearings for John Ashcroft as attorney general.''

The Government Reform Committee is investigating the FBI's use of confidential informants while the bureau investigated New England organized crime activities.

The committee seeks information on deals FBI officials struck with suspected murderers Stephen ''the Rifleman'' Flemmi and James ''Whitey'' Bulger.

It is also exploring what FBI officials, including former director J. Edgar Hoover, knew about the innocence of Joseph Salvati of Massachusetts. Salvati spent 30 years in prison for the 1965 murder of Edward ''Teddy'' Deegan in Chelsea, but the Governor's Council commuted his sentence in 1997. His conviction was overturned in January after a judge concluded that FBI agents hid testimony that would have cleared Salvati because they wanted to protect an informant.

''The federal government wanted Joe Salvati to die in jail because dead men don't tell tales,'' said Salvati's lawyer, Victor J. Garo, at the hearing yesterday.

In buttressing the executive order, Michael E. Horowitz, chief of staff for the Justice Department's criminal division, told the committee that providing documents about prosecutorial decision-making could have a ''chilling effect'' on the advice that lower-level attorneys may be willing to provide to top prosecutors.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Ronald Reagan invoked such a privilege three times, while Bill Clinton did so on four occasions. Forms of privilege were also claimed in the Nixon administration during the Watergate investigation. Fleischer said the Justice Department has already turned over 3,500 pages to Burton's committee, although members complained that many were heavily redacted.
The Justice Department offered to provide summaries of 20 documents it believes would be covered by the subpoena.

Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat from Newton, said he and Burton, a conservative, had sometimes disagreed on the committee's inquiries into the Clinton administration. He said the chairman's strong words for his fellow Republicans showed he had not merely been partisan.

Turning to Horowitz, Frank asked why the Bush administration might cover up mistakes made in a previous administration. ''I don't know what bureaucratic reflex drives people to do this,'' the congressman said.

© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company

Published on Saturday, December 15, 2001 by Reuters

UNITED NATIONS - The United States on Saturday used its veto power to kill a U.N. resolution that demanded an immediate halt to Middle East violence and said the Palestinian Authority was essential to any peace process.U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the Security Council resolution, sponsored by Arab states, was aimed at isolating Israel politically and did not mention recent suicide bombings against Israelis or those responsible for them.

The vote in the 15-member council was 12 to 1 with 2 abstentions, Britain and Norway. The other two Europeans on the council, France and Ireland were among the ``yes'' votes following two dozen speeches that spilled into the early-morning hours.

The U.S. veto was the second this year on a Palestinian-backed resolution. In March, Washington killed a tougher measure that called for an international observer force, which Israel opposes.

Saturday's resolution, sponsored by Egypt and Tunisia and amended by France, encouraged ``all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism'' to help ease conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. It condemned all terrorist acts, executions without trial, excessive use of force and the destruction of property.

But Negroponte said it was fundamentally flawed because it did not even mention ``recent acts of terrorism'' against Israelis or those responsible for them. On Dec. 1, Palestinian suicide attacks killed 26 in Jerusalem and Haifa.

At least 776 Palestinians and 233 Israelis have been killed since Israeli-Palestinian clashes flared anew in September of last year after U.S. mediated peace efforts collapsed.

The resolution sought to bolster Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat days after Israel severed ties with him and branded him ''irrelevant'' in response to the spate of attacks on Israelis this month. It said the Palestinian Authority remained ``the indispensable and legitimate party for peace.''

The break with Arafat on Thursday, a day after Palestinian militants ambushed a bus in the West Bank and killed 10 Israelis, further evaporating hopes for a negotiated end to the bloodshed. On Friday, the Israeli army killed eight Palestinians.

Palestinian U.N. representative Nasser al-Kidwa said cutting off Arafat threatened to plunge the region into war.

"This decision means the abandonment of the negotiation process," al-Kidwa said, adding he feared Israel wanted to roll back on autonomy and security agreements made during the Oslo negotiation process that began in 1993.

Addressing the United States, he asked ``whether this council is being used by some only when it's useful to them.''

A number of speakers admonished Israel for using excessive force against Palestinians.
But Israel said it believed the conflict was not about occupation but about the Jewish state's right to exist.
Israeli delegate Aaron Jacob said there was an ''ever-diminishing window of opportunity'' to salvage peace negotiations if Palestinians entered direct bilateral talks with Israel and crushed militant groups like Hamas.

"The terrorism that has afflicted Israeli civilians is part and parcel of the fundamentalist terrorism that is now the focus of a comprehensive international campaign aimed at its eradication," Jacob said.
Britain said it abstained because the text did not reflect the realities on ground, did not specify a next step for a resumption of meaningful negotiations nor define responsibility which both sides must accept to end violence.
``We urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to pull back from the brink and work together to end violence,'' British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock said. ``It serves no one's interest to undermine President Arafat or to weaken the Palestinian Authority.''

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited

Published on Sunday, December 16, 2001 in the Washington Post
Capitol Hill Anthrax Matches Army's Stocks
5 Labs Can Trace Spores to Ft. Detrick
by Rick Weiss and Susan Schmidt
Genetic fingerprinting studies indicate that the anthrax spores mailed to Capitol Hill are identical to stocks of the deadly bacteria maintained by the U.S. Army since 1980, according to scientists familiar with the most recent tests.Although many laboratories possess the Ames strain of anthrax involved in this fall's bioterrorist attacks, only five laboratories so far have been found to have spores with perfect genetic matches to those in the Senate letters, the scientists said. And all those labs can trace back their samples to a single U.S. military source: the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Md.

"That means the original source [of the terrorist material] had to have been USAMRIID," said one of the scientists.

Those matching samples are at Fort Detrick; the Dugway Proving Ground military research facility in Utah; a British military lab called Porton Down; and microbial depositories at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Northern Arizona University. Northern Arizona University received its sample from LSU, which received its sample from Porton Down. Dugway and Porton Down got their samples directly from USAMRIID.

In another development yesterday, government health officials said they planned to recommend that about 3,000 people who were exposed to anthrax, including hundreds of Washington postal and Capitol Hill workers, be offered an experimental vaccine as a precaution in case antibiotic treatment alone failed to protect them from getting sick.

The FBI's investigation into the anthrax attacks is increasingly focusing on whether U.S. government bioweapons research programs, including one conducted by the CIA, may have been the source of deadly anthrax powder sent through the mail, according to sources with knowledge of the probe. The results of the genetic tests strengthen that possibility. The FBI is focusing on a contractor that worked with the CIA, one source said.

But it remains unknown which lab may have lost control of the material that apparently ended up in terrorist hands. One of the two scientists familiar with the genetic testing, who has been advising the government on the anthrax scare, said investigators still know little about security at Porton Down, though they have no reason to suppose it has been inadequate. Of the domestic labs, Dugway has attracted the most attention from the FBI, he said.

Dugway is also the only facility known in recent years to have processed anthrax spores into the powdery form that is most easily inhaled.

Scientists have known for some time that bacteria used in the terrorist attacks belong to the Ames strain, a variant of the anthrax bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, that was first isolated from a cow in Iowa and has been under study by military scientists for decades. But the Ames strain comes in various subtypes that can be distinguished from one another by detailed tests on the microbe's genes.

The genetic fingerprinting finding was made by a research team led by geneticist Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, which has been comparing the Ames strain bacteria found in the Senate letters to other Ames strain samples retrieved from nature and from various university and government laboratories.

"That's good detective work in the sense of determining the origins; this will narrow the search for the people who had access to the strain," said Jennie Hunter-Cevera, a microbiologist and president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute.

Other experts were cautious, noting that it is possible that the exact subtype of the Ames strain could have originated elsewhere -- perhaps even isolated from animals or soil in the wild.

"It's an important finding but it's not one of those things that says, 'Aha!' " said Richard Spertzel, a former director of the U.N. biological weapons team in Iraq.

The scientists are still planning to do genetic testing on anthrax bacteria from the Defense Research Establishment Suffield, a Canadian military research facility, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, a government contractor doing research on anthrax vaccines. Those are the only other facilities known to have received samples from USAMRIID.

The researchers also plan to test samples obtained from nature, and from other university labs known to have the Ames strain to see if any others match. But of the few such samples that have been tested so far none has matched the spores used by the terrorists. In addition, the researchers want to examine other characteristics of the samples, such as proteins, carbohydrates and other substances in the material.
"If there's also a telltale piece or trace of nutrients or chemicals that show the process, that's even better. You start adding the pieces and go from tentative to confirmative," Hunter-Cevera said.

The CIA's biowarfare program, which was designed to find ways to defend against bioterrorists, involved the use of small amounts of Ames strain, an agency spokesman said yesterday. The CIA declined to say where its Ames strain material came from. The spokesman said, however, that the CIA's anthrax was not milled into the volatile power form found in the letters and that none of it is missing.

Nevertheless, the FBI has turned its attention to learning more about the CIA's work with anthrax, which investigators were told about by the agency within the past few weeks, government officials said. The CIA has tried to develop defenses against a vaccine-resistant strain of anthrax reportedly developed by the Russians several years ago.

While the CIA has had small amounts of Ames strain anthrax in its labs to "compare and contrast with other strains," a spokesman said, the agency did not "grow, create or produce the Ames strain." The anthrax contained in the letters under investigation "absolutely did not" come from CIA labs, the spokesman said.

He also said that the FBI is fully aware of the CIA's work with anthrax and suggested investigators were satisfied with the information they had been provided. Law enforcement sources, however, said the FBI remains extremely interested in the CIA's work with anthrax, with one official calling it the best lead they have at this point. The sources said FBI investigators do not yet know much about the CIA program.
Both law enforcement and intelligence officials said the CIA is cooperating with the FBI probe.

Investigators are considering a wide range of possible motives for the anthrax attacks, including vengeance of some sort, profiteering by someone involved in the anthrax cleanup business, or perhaps an effort by someone to cast blame on Iraq, which has an extensive bioweapons arsenal. Whoever sent the letters could have a strong scientific background, officials said, but they also believe the material could have been stolen and mailed by someone without such expertise.

A law enforcement source said the FBI did not initially include the CIA on its list of labs working with anthrax because the agency was not among 91 labs registered with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to transfer anthrax specimens. But as investigators interviewed workers at those known labs, they learned of the CIA's work, and in the past few weeks posed questions about it to the agency.

CIA scientists worked with other government agencies and outside contractors in the defensive biowarfare program, the agency spokesman said. The agency said most of its defensive work involves simulants, not active biological agents.

"Everything we have done is appropriate and necessary and consistent with our treaty obligations," he said, adding that congressional oversight committees, along with the National Security Council staff, has been kept abreast of the CIA lab work. "One of our missions is to learn about potential biological warfare threats," he said, adding that research can involve "anthrax and other biological agents."

Staff writer Joby Warrick contributed to this report.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

Published on Monday, December 17, 2001 in the Los Angeles Times
by Matthew L. Wald

WASHINGTON -- CIA laboratories were not the source of the deadly anthrax bacteria mailed to Capitol Hill, a Central Intelligence Agency spokesman said Sunday."The anthrax contained in the letters under investigation absolutely did not come from CIA labs," the spokesman, Mark Mansfield, said in response to a report that investigators were focusing on whether spores used in the anthrax attacks may have come from a domestic bioweapon research program, including one conducted by the CIA.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that genetic tests of the spores in the anthrax-laced letters mailed to Capitol Hill were identical to stocks maintained by a U.S. Army research program at Ft. Detrick, Md. Anthrax-contaminated letters, postmarked from Trenton, N.J., on Oct. 9 were mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). Anthrax letters also were sent to three media outlets.

Five people have died and 13 have been infected with anthrax since October.

The Washington Post said the FBI investigation into the anthrax attacks was increasingly focusing on whether U.S. government bioweapon research programs may have been the source of the deadly bacteria. The report quoted one source as saying the FBI was focusing on a contractor that worked for the CIA.

Law enforcement officials have said th
e anthrax used in the mail attacks is a type known as the Ames strain. While the CIA has had small amounts of the Ames strain bacteria in the laboratory to compare and contrast with other strains, "we did not grow, create or produce the Ames strain of the anthrax virus," Mansfield said.

"One of our missions is to learn about potential biological warfare threats and our work in this regard is entirely defensive in nature and consistent with U.S. treaty obligations," he said.

On Capitol Hill on Sunday, technicians began fumigating part of the ventilation system in the Hart Senate Office Building in an attempt to kill the anthrax spores remaining in the building.

On Sunday night, Environmental Protection Agency officials and private contractors started pumping chlorine dioxide gas into the building's ventilation system in an effort to kill the spores from the bioterrorist attack that has killed two District of Columbia postal workers and sickened three other people.
Authorities said they expected the fumigation operation at Hart--the second one at the building in just over two weeks--to be completed this morning.

Authorities had hoped to begin the fumigation effort Friday night, but workers were unable to bring the building's humidity up to the necessary level--75%--to begin the work. Finally, after two days of pumping steam into the building and doing other things to raise the humidity, workers were able to begin their work Sunday.

The work crews are "overworked and tired," said Richard Rupert, the EPA's on-site coordinator.
Even if the cleanup goes well, Lt. Dan Nichols, spokesman for the Capitol Police, said he could not give an opening date for the Hart building, where the Capitol Hill anthrax attacks began Oct. 15 when an aide to Daschle opened a tainted letter. The building was closed two days later.

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times

Published on Monday, December 17, 2001 in the New York Times
by Matthew L. Wald

WASHINGTON — The security drills created by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ensure that reactor security guards can repel terrorists involve mock attacks by only three intruders, assisted by one confederate inside the plant, according to a nuclear safety group.Even against such limited challenges, crews at nearly half the reactors have scored poorly on the drills, according to documents assembled by the group, the Committee to Bridge the Gap, based in California.
Shut It Down NOW!
Opponents of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant hold signs Monday, Dec. 3, 2001, Brattleboro, Vt., during a public hearing about security at the plant, which has been heightened since the Sept. 11, terrorist attacks. Defenders of nuclear power downplay the vulnerability but at the same time said at the hearing they are working to improve security at the nation's 103 reactors. (AP Photo/Jon-Pierre Lasseigne) 
In an article in the January issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Daniel Hirsch, the president of Bridge the Gap, contends that the drills are unrealistic, especially in light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, which involved 19 hijackers operating in four well-coordinated teams.

"The N.R.C. and the industry seem to be stuck in a time warp of a quarter of a century ago, and are simply hoping that the problem goes away," Mr. Hirsch said. He called for upgrading the level of assumed threat that is the basis for designing protections of nuclear power plants.

Federal regulations call for plants to be prepared to deal with "a determined violent external assault, attack by stealth or deceptive actions of several persons." The attackers are to be assumed to have light weapons, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and help from a knowledgeable accomplice in the plant.

But the regulations do not call for protections against attackers with aircraft or boats, even though many plants are on lakes, rivers or seashores or are in zones where flying is not tightly restricted.
The regulations require a minimum of five guards on duty at plants — enough to outnumber the attackers, by their calculations. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's documents call this a matter of "conservatism," and the agency has said that the threat of a larger attack is "not credible."

Commission officials have said that the meaning of "several" attackers in their regulations is secret, but a 1976 policy paper identifies it as three. The number was made public in a 1982 decision about licensing the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Diablo Canyon reactors.

At the regulatory commission, William M. Beecher, the director of public affairs, said he could not confirm that the number was three. "We cannot discuss safeguards information," Mr. Beecher said. "Regardless of what's in the public record, I can't break security."

In 1977, the regulatory commission found that "on the basis of intelligence and other relevant information available to the N.R.C., there are no known groups in this country having the combination of motivation, skill and resources to attack either a fuel facility or a nuclear power reactor." At the time, the agency said it would review the issue in the future.

Mr. Hirsch said the current regulations were obsolete long before Sept. 11. He cited an attack planned by the radical environmental group Earth First in 1986 against the three- reactor Palo Verde nuclear complex, in Arizona. The group tried to cut power lines leading to the plant. Had it succeeded, instruments controlling the reactors could have lost power.

Mr. Hirsch's group has tried repeatedly to get the commission to toughen its security standards. The agency did tighten its rule setting safeguards against truck bombs in 1993. That was a reaction to the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center's parking garage and an incident in which a former mental patient sped past the guard shack at the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania and crashed his station wagon into the plant.

Mr. Hirsch said the commission had taken its action extremely late, ignoring a previous series of huge truck bomb attacks abroad.

But Mr. Beecher said that the commission was conducting a "top to bottom review" of security and that many states had called out state troopers or the National Guard to help secure the reactors.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

Published on Tuesday, December 18, 2001 in the Seattle Times
by Bob Port New York Daily News

The FBI is planning to give away computer software. All you have to do to get some is make the bureau think you're involved in crime.The software is called Magic Lantern, and along with the Justice Department's greatly expanded powers, it's making civil libertarians nervous.

Magic Lantern is a program that records each keystroke made on a target computer and transmits that data to the bureau. The FBI doesn't even have to go to the computer's location because Magic Lantern can install itself, just like a Trojan-horse computer virus. And like a Trojan horse, it disguises itself as a benign code.

The FBI has acknowledged Magic Lantern's existence but little more. The program is intended to sidestep one of the most difficult eavesdropping hurdles: encryption.

Encrypted e-mail is almost impossible to decipher without a key, a small computer file that unscrambles the code. Without the key, encrypted e-mail is gibberish. The key, in turn, is protected by a password.

Magic Lantern apparently doesn't try to decrypt e-mail. Instead, it records the characters as they're typed. With it, the bureau can obtain a suspect's password and then the encryption key.
Encrypted e-mail has bedeviled the FBI for years.

Its first attempt to get around the problem was a device that recorded keystrokes, called a key logger. But unlike Magic Lantern, the device required an agent to sneak into a suspect's home or office to install it on a computer.

While few people argue that such devices can be invaluable in national-security cases, some contend that their use in other types of cases is inevitable.

In fact, evidence developed with a keystroke-logging device already has been used in the trial of suspected Philadelphia mobster Nicodemo Scarfo.

The recently passed USA Patriot Act gives the Justice Department much more freedom to record e-mail information. One provision can force a judge to issue an order for recording the addresses to which a suspect sends messages and from which the suspect gets messages — if a prosecutor files papers certifying that e-mail is relevant to an investigation.

Privacy advocates argue the law is far too open to interpretation.

"What is relevant?" asked David Sobel, general counsel to the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. "Anything could be relevant."

Copyright © 2001 The Seattle Times Company

Published on Wednesday, December 19, 2001 by the Associated Press
Bush Administration Wants To Build New Nuclear Bomb
Critics Charge 'Dirty' Bomb Would Send Wrong Signals
by H. Josef Hebert

WASHINGTON –– Defense officials are considering the possibility of developing a low-yield nuclear device that would be able to destroy deeply buried stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons.Such a move would require Congress to lift a 1994 ban on designing new nuclear warheads.

This kind of warhead is "the dirtiest kind of all. It's highly radioactive." Development of such a bomb would send the wrong signals and would add to the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Martin Butcher, director of security programs at the Physicians for Social Responsibility
In a report to Congress, the Defense Department argues that conventional weapons, while effective for many underground enemy targets, would be unable to destroy the most deeply protected facilities containing biological or chemical agents.

In recent years there has been a growing unease that terror groups or unfriendly, newly nuclear-capable states may be hiding weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons, in deep underground facilities.
In the report sent to Congress in October, the Defense Department said a low-yield, less than five-kiloton, nuclear warhead coupled with new technology that allows bombs to penetrate deep underground before exploding could prove effective in destroying biological and chemical agents.

Although not formally engaged in developing a new warhead design, nuclear scientists "have completed initial studies on how existing nuclear weapons can be modified" for use to destroy deeply buried targets containing chemical or biological weapons, the report said. Studies include "synergies of nuclear weapons yield, penetration, accuracy and tactics," it said.

Conventional weapons cannot destroy the most deeply buried chemical and biological holding facilities, the report concludes, but a low-yield nuclear device could do the job. It notes that the current nuclear arsenal was "not designed with this mission in mind."

The report was submitted in response to a congressional directive that the Pentagon report what it was doing to develop ways to attack stores of chemical and biological weapons and also contains updates on a number of programs involving conventional weapons.

The report shows the Bush administration views a nuclear strike as "an intrinsic part" of dealing with deeply entombed enemy targets and "is essentially doing all the preparation" for a future full-scale research and development program for a new mini-nuclear warhead, said Martin Butcher, director of security programs at the Physicians for Social Responsibility.

This kind of warhead is "the dirtiest kind of all. It's highly radioactive," said Butcher, whose group has been a leading voice in the nuclear nonproliferation debate. Development of such a bomb would send the wrong signals and would add to the risk of nuclear proliferation, he said.

A low-yield nuclear weapon generally is considered to be no more than five kilotons. By comparison, the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II were about 15 kilotons each.
The report sent to key committees in Congress by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in October provides a general outline of U.S. capabilities for dealing with what defense officials believe is a growing gap in U.S. military response.

The House International Relations Committee is pressing for renewed U.N. inspections in Iraq on the belief that it has rebuilt its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs since President Saddam Hussein's government stopped allowing inspections in 1998.

Notes and diagrams found in houses vacated by al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan also point to an effort to create weapons of mass destruction.

The report said enhancements expected to be completed by 2005 to an array of conventional weapons, including laser-guided bombs and cruise missiles, should be able to destroy most underground facilities. But it maintains such weapons cannot penetrate the deepest facilities.

The report acknowledges that any decision to proceed with a nuclear device for attacking underground targets would be considered within the administration's broader plans for the nuclear stockpile and overall nuclear weapons policy.

It said a joint nuclear-planning board already has been established to examine the use of nuclear weapons as bunker-busters.

The idea of using low-yield nuclear warheads to attack deeply buried enemy targets has been discussed for years. It was the subject of a classified study concluded in 1997 and has been frequently discussed by nuclear weapons scientists at the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.

The essence of the report sent to Congress was reported Tuesday by The Albuquerque Journal. A copy was distributed by Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, based in Santa Fe, on its Web site.

The report had been requested by Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and was part of this year's defense authorization legislation.

On the Net: Nuclear Watch of New Mexico: www.nukewatch.org

© 2001 The Associated Press

Published on Thursday, December 20, 2001 by Agence France Presse

Opinion-makers strongly support the US-led war on terrorism but oppose spreading the action beyond Afghanistan and feel Washington's policies contributed to the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to a survey in 24 countries.The poll of 275 opinion leaders, published in the Paris-based International Herald Tribune Thursday, showed a majority of non-US respondents felt US policies had played a significant role in fueling terrorists' anger against the United States.

The poll findings suggest "that much of the world views the attacks as a symptom of increasingly bitter polarization between haves and have-nots," the paper said.

"The danger for America is that its overwhelming power is feeding resentment, in the same countries that also feel they are missing out on the spoils of economic progress."

While around six out of ten non-Americans believed Washington was doing the right thing in fighting terrorism, that support tumbled when the question of possible US-led attacks on Iraq, Somalia or elsewhere was raised.

While 50 percent of the Americans polled said the military action should be broadened to the regimes supporting terrorism, only 29 percent outside the US agreed.

Asked if many or most people would consider US policies to be "a major cause" of the September 11 attacks, 58 percent of the non-US respondents said they did, compared to just 18 percent of Americans.

The poll, conducted by the paper and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, highlighted a large gap between the way Americans believe they are seen abroad and the way others say they see the United States.

Samuel Wells, associate director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was quoted as saying Americans were relatively unaware of how many Muslims "were terribly upset at the carry-over from the Gulf War," including the continued US military presence in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf.

Not one American respondent believed the US attacks on Afghanistan would be widely considered as an overreaction, while over 40 percent of non-Americans, and 63 percent in Islamic countries, did.
Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew center, noted as particularly striking the finding that two-thirds or more of respondents in every region outside the United States said it was "good that Americans now know what it's like to be vulnerable".

A total of 52 percent of respondents said the world's wealthiest country does far too little to help the least-advantaged, citing that as a major cause for dislike of the United States.

The paper said the pollsters had interviewed between November 12 and December 13, "275 influential people" in politics, media, business, culture and government; 40 in the United States and 235 in 23 other countries.

Copyright © 2001 AFP

Published on Friday, December 21, 2001 by Reuters
by Peter Graff and Charles Aldinger
KABUL/WASHINGTON -- A provisional government on which the world has pegged its hopes for a peaceful Afghanistan prepared on Friday to take power, but U.S. President George. W. Bush warned that 2002 would still be a "war year." A disputed U.S. attack on a convoy of suspected Taliban or al Qaeda leaders marred the run-up to a ceremony on Saturday that would mark the first orderly transition of power in two decades in the central Asian nation.

Pashtun tribal chieftain Hamid Karzai was to be sworn in as leader of a government molded by the United Nations and charged with rebuilding the war-shattered nation whose ousted Taliban rulers sheltered Osama bin Laden and his fighters as they allegedly plotted the Sept. 11 attacks on America that killed nearly 3,300 people.

Some 75 British Royal Marines, the vanguard of an international peacekeeping force expected to swell to at least 1,500, touched down in Kabul while the United States stepped up its hunt for bin Laden in the cave-riddled mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said U.S. forces had begun searching al Qaeda caves and tunnels and that more troops would be sent to press the hunt, as Washington left the ''nation-building'' mission to its European and Muslim allies.

The Pentagon also rushed into battle a new bomb designed to kill people in caves and tunnels with a higher-energy blast than standard explosives.


U.S. defense officials announced AC-130 gunships and Navy fighters had attacked and destroyed a convoy in Afghanistan believed to be carrying "leadership'' of the Taliban or al Qaeda.

But reports from the region said the convoy instead comprised Afghan tribal elders on their way to Kabul to attend the inauguration of the interim government, killing about 65 people -- something the Pentagon rejected.

"There is no doubt in their (U.S. military's Central Command) mind that they hit what they wanted to hit and that it was the bad guys,'' Marine Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Reuters.
Bush, in an interview with reporters in Washington, said great progress had been made in his ``war on terrorism'' but warned that peace was not at hand.

"Next year will be a war year as well because we're going to continue to hunt down these al Qaeda people in this particular theater, as well as other places,'' he said.

Bush said the United States would be willing to send U.S. special forces or logistical support to countries that ask for help. Washington has identified more than 60 countries with al Qaeda cells in them in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"Our war against terror extends way beyond Afghanistan. And at some point in time maybe some president will come and say you have the expertise that we don't, would you mind maybe have some of your troops with ours. And the answer is, 'you bet,''' Bush said.


A majority of Americans support extending the military campaign to Iraq, according to the latest opinion poll.

Secretary of State Colin Powell warned that military success in Afghanistan did not guarantee a similar result in Iraq, proposed by Washington's hawks as the next target in the war on terrorism.

"They are so significantly different that you can't take the Afghan model and immediately apply it to Iraq,'' he said.

Bush admitted that the whereabouts of bin Laden was unknown, but repeated his promise the wealthy Saudi-born militant would be caught.

"I haven't heard much from him recently, which means he could be in a cave that doesn't have an opening to it anymore, or could be in a cave where he can get out, or may have tried to slither out into neighboring Pakistan. We don't know. But I will tell you this: We're going to find him,'' Bush said.
Pakistani security forces were holding hundreds of prisoners captured fleeing Afghanistan. After a mass escape of al Qaeda fighters, they searched cars and checked women wearing the all-enveloping burqa in case they were male fugitives in disguise.

Bin Laden ally Mullah Mohammad Omar, the reclusive head of the ousted Taliban movement, also has eluded capture and was said by a former Taliban minister to be safe at an unknown location in Afghanistan.

Mullah Abdul Shakour, ex-minister of communications and reconstruction, said all the Taliban leaders were safe, and threatened retaliation against any country that extradited members of the Taliban leadership to the United States.


The Taliban, whose five-year hold on power crumbled quickly under assault from the United States and the Afghan opposition group Northern Alliance, was to be replaced on Saturday by a 30-member government formed under United Nations guidance during meetings in Bonn, Germany last month.
It will rule for six months while a Loya Jirga, or traditional assembly of elders, forms another government to run the fractured country until elections two years later.

The new government's task will be difficult. The World Bank and United Nations said in a report unveiled in Brussels that Afghanistan will need $9 billion in aid over the next five years to rebuild after two decades of war.

The United States appeared ready to help, saying it would immediately recognize the new government. U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan James Dobbins told reporters in Kabul he had delivered a message of support from President Bush to Afghan leader designate Karzai.
The prospect of a new era in Afghanistan was dampened by the renewal of old hostilities between neighboring Pakistan and India.

India said it was recalling its envoy to Pakistan for what it termed Islamabad's failure to act against terrorism following an attack on the Indian parliament last week. There were big troop movements close to the border between the two nuclear rivals.


Bush joined India in urging Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to crack down on Pakistan-based militants blamed in the attack in which 14 people died.

"As President Musharraf does so, he will have our full support,'' Bush said in statement.

The shock waves from the Sept. 11 attacks continued to reverberate around the world.

Somali police arrested four Iraqi Kurds and a Palestinian for questioning over possible links to al Qaeda network or other extremist groups. Somalia has been talked of as a possible new target of the ``war on terror,'' and has come under strong U.S. pressure to act against militants.

Yemen's President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, ordered his forces to use an "iron fist'' in the hunt for bin Laden supporters after 22 people died in a battle with suspected al Qaeda militants.

Chinese police arrested nine Muslims for ``illegal preaching'' in China's restive western province Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan, saying the roundup was part of a campaign against ``separatists, terrorists and religious extremists.''

Iran said it opposed the deployment of foreign forces in neighboring Afghanistan. Conservatives in Tehran accused the United States of being ``drunk with superficial victory in Afghanistan'' after the U.S. navy intercepted an oil tanker carrying Iranian fuel in the Gulf.

The U.S. Justice Department said it had nearly completed questioning 5,000 foreign men in the United States in a controversial attempt to find out more about militant activities. It said it had generated leads useful in the nation's anti-terrorism campaign.

New York City firefighters and police met troops of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division at an air base north of Kabul and buried a piece of the World Trade Center in honor of comrades who died in the September 11 attacks.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited

Published on Saturday, December 22, 2001 in the New York Times
by William J. Broad and David Johnston

Shortly after the first anthrax victim died in October, the Bush administration began an intense effort to explore any possible link between Iraq and the attacks and continued to do so even after scientists determined that the lethal germ was an American strain, scientists and government officials said.But they said that largely secret work had found no evidence to back up the initial suspicions, which is one reason administration officials have said recently that the source of the anthrax was most likely domestic.

For months, intelligence agencies searched for Iraqi fingerprints and scientists investigated whether Baghdad had somehow obtained the so-called Ames strain of anthrax. Scientists also repeatedly analyzed the powder from the anthrax-laced envelopes for signs of chemical additives that would point to Iraq.

"We looked for any shred of evidence that would bear on this, or any foreign source," a senior intelligence official said of an Iraq connection. "It's just not there."

The focus on Iraq was based on its record of developing a germ arsenal and also on what some officials said was a desire on the part of the administration to find a reason to attack Iraq in the war on terrorism.

"I know there are a number of people who would love an excuse to get after Iraq," said a top federal scientist involved in the investigation.

From the start, agents searched for clues in domestic industry, academia and terror groups. But while investigators were racing to link the Ames strain to Iraq, they have only recently begun examining government institutions and contractors in this country that have worked with that strain for years.
In hunting for a culprit in the attacks that killed five people, agents have chased tens of thousands of tips in the past two months and conducted thousands of interviews, law enforcement officials said.
They have traced prescriptions for the antibiotic Cipro, on the chance the perpetrator took the drug to guard against the disease. They have also checked the language and block- style handwriting on letters sent with the anthrax against digital databases of threatening letters maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service and Capitol Police.

But officials said no likely suspects have emerged and they are settling in for what they fear could be a long haul.

The most promising evidence is still the anthrax itself, which federal scientists and contractors are studying for clues to its origin. The government tried to find links to Afghanistan and Iraq in the substance as well.

One discovery early in the inquiry seemed to undercut the foreign thesis. The anthrax used in the first attack, in Florida, and in subsequent attacks turned out to be the Ames strain, named after its place of origin in Iowa. While investigators found that this domestic variety of anthrax had been shipped to some laboratories overseas, none could be traced to Baghdad.

Nevertheless, government officials continued pushing the Iraq theory, scientists and officials involved in the inquiry said. They saw an intriguing clue in reports that Iraq had tried hard to obtain the Ames strain from British researchers in 1988 and 1989, raising suspicions that it had eventually succeeded.
Federal scientists hunted down records and biological samples from an investigation of Iraq's biological arms program, which was conducted by the United Nations in the 1990's. Those samples were analyzed in laboratories run by two biologists, Paul S. Keim of Northern Arizona University and Paul J. Jackson of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico.

But in the end few samples from Iraq's arsenal were found, and those that were turned out to have nothing in common with the Ames strain, officials said.

A different line of inquiry sought to re-examine seven anthrax strains that the world's largest germ bank, the American Type Culture Collection, in Manassas, Va., sold to Iraq in the 1980's, before the government banned such exports.

None of the strains were identified as Ames. But scientists inside and outside the government speculated that mislabeling might have inadvertently put the potent germ in Baghdad's hands. More laboratory tests were ordered.

Raymond H. Cypess, president of the germ bank, said recent investigations had disproved the mislabeling idea. "We never had it," he said of the Ames strain, "and we can say that on several levels of analysis."

The Iraq inquiry also looked for chemical clues. An early focus was bentonite, a clay additive that is one of the few substances identified publicly that can help reduce the static charge of anthrax spores so they float more freely and potentially infect more people.

Richard O. Spertzel, a retired microbiologist who led the United Nations' biological weapons inspections of Iraq, told investigators that Iraq had explored using bentonite in its germ weapons programs. But Maj. Gen. John Parker of the Army's biological research center at Fort Detrick, Md., said in late October that tests had turned up no signs of aluminum — a main building block of bentonite.
"If I can't find aluminum," General Parker told reporters, "I can't say it's bentonite."

Despite the scientific findings, the sophistication of the anthrax found in the letter mailed to Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader, has kept Dr. Spertzel and others convinced that Iraq or another foreign power could be behind the attacks.

Richard H. Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University who closely follows the anthrax inquiry, recently said that the Baghdad thesis "should not be dismissed as a desperate reach for a casus belli against Iraq" and is still worth investigating.

Publicly, White House officials have made no mention of the failure to find an Iraqi connection, but they have noted the inquiry's intensified focus on the United States. "The evidence is increasingly looking like it was a domestic source," the White House Press secretary, Ari Fleischer, said on Monday.
Tom Ridge, the director of homeland security, said in a statement that he initially assumed that the culprits were foreigners. "Like many people, when the case of anthrax emerged so close to Sept. 11, I couldn't believe it was a coincidence," Mr. Ridge said. "But now, based on the investigative work of many agencies, we're all more inclined to think that the perpetrator is domestic."

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

Published on Monday, December 24, 2001 in the Washington Post
Rightwing Watch,
Religious Right Finds Its Center in Oval Office
Bush Emerges as Movement's Leader After Robertson Leaves Christian Coalition 
by Dana Milbank
Pat Robertson's resignation this month as president of the Christian Coalition confirmed the ascendance of a new leader of the religious right in America: George W. Bush.For the first time since religious conservatives became a modern political movement, the president of the United States has become the movement's de facto leader -- a status even Ronald Reagan, though admired by religious conservatives, never earned. Christian publications, radio and television shower Bush with praise, while preachers from the pulpit treat his leadership as an act of providence. A procession of religious leaders who have met with him testify to his faith, while Web sites encourage people to fast and pray for the president.

There are several reasons for the adulation. Religious conservatives have regarded Bush as one of their own since the presidential campaign, when he spoke during a debate of the guidance of Jesus. At the same time, key figures in the religious right -- Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Billy Graham and Franklin Graham -- have receded in political prominence or influence, in part because they are no longer mobilized by their opposition to a president. Bush's handling of the anti-terrorism campaign since Sept. 11 has solidified his standing by painting him in stark terms as the leader in a fight of good against evil.

"I think Robertson stepped down because the position has already been filled," said Gary Bauer, a religious conservative who challenged Bush in the Republican primary. Bush "is that leader right now. There was already a great deal of identification with the president before 9-11 in the world of the Christian right, and the nature of this war is such that it's heightened the sense that a man of God is in the White House."

Ralph Reed, who once led the Christian Coalition and now is chairman of the Georgia GOP, notes that the religious conservative movement "no longer plays the institutional role it once did," in part because it succeeded in electing Bush and other friendly leaders. "You're no longer throwing rocks at the building; you're in the building."

Conservative Christians tend to view Bush's recent success as part of a divine plan. "I've heard a lot of 'God knew something we didn't,' " Reed said. "In the evangelical mind, the notion of an omniscient God is central to their theology. He had a knowledge nobody else had: He knew George Bush had the ability to lead in this compelling way."

Bush himself dismisses the notion that he is part of some divine plan. "He does not believe he was chosen for this moment," a senior aide said. "He just views himself as governing on his beliefs and his promises. He doesn't look at himself as a leader of any particular movement."

Still, some of those around Bush say they have a sense that a higher purpose is involved. "I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility," Bush aide Tim Goeglein, described as a "strong evangelical," told World magazine, a Christian publication.
Partially a victim of their own success, groups such as the Christian Coalition are finding fundraising difficult. Some leaders, such as Focus on the Family's Dobson, have retreated from political involvement.

Some religious conservative leaders have inflicted wounds on themselves. Falwell was roundly criticized, even by supporters, for saying on television, with Robertson's agreement, that "abortionists and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians" and civil libertarians were to blame in part for the Sept. 11 attacks. Franklin Graham produced a furor by declaring Islam a "very evil and wicked religion."
Voting patterns also show a declining religious right. Karl Rove, Bush's top political strategist, said that only 15 million of the 19 million religious conservatives who should have voted went to the polls in 2000. "We may be seeing to some degree some return to the sidelines of previously involved religious conservatives," he said.

And Bush, his advisers acknowledge, deliberately circumvented the power of the leaders of the religious right, appealing to conservatives himself rather than paying homage to the Christian Coalition during the campaign. "In the old days, Republican presidential candidates went to religious conservative leaders to seek their imprimatur," said a Bush adviser. "George W. Bush was able to go directly to those who sat in the pews."

Bush's effort succeeded. "He is the leader of the Christian right," said Marshall Wittmann, a former Christian Coalition figure now with the Hudson Institute, a think tank. "As their institutions peel away, he can go over the heads" of religious conservative leaders.

Bush, aided by speechwriter Michael Gerson, himself a religious conservative, speaks the language of religion better than any president since Jimmy Carter, religious leaders say, and Bush's policies appeal more to conservatives. To many outside the religious conservative movement, Bush's faith-infused words may sound sanctimonious; to those within it, the words sound familiar and comforting. Across the country, churchgoers share Bush's "testimony," his discovery of God 15 years ago with the help of Billy Graham. "Reverend Graham planted a mustard seed in my soul, a seed that grew over the next year," Bush's memoir recounts. "He led me to the path, and I began walking. It was the beginning of a change in my life."

As Bush had embraced religious conservatism, religious conservatives have openly embraced him. The Internet has several sites offering prayers for the president's success. One example: "Call on the name of the Lord to hedge him in from terrorists and violent people. Psalm 91:11-12; 1 Corinthians 1:10-11."

World magazine, which is edited by one-time Bush adviser Marvin Olasky, named Bush's attorney general, John D. Ashcroft, its "Daniel of the Year." Ashcroft himself considered running for president in 2000 as the candidate of the religious right. "Just as the biblical Daniel faced an established idol-worshiping religion in Babylon, so our Dans must not back down in the face of deadly persecution abroad or the scorn and harassment that comes domestically from the academic and media high priests of our established religion, secular liberalism," Olasky wrote.

The top Daniel, of course, is Bush himself, a view liberally offered by the many religious figures who pass through the White House. In an account of one such meeting, Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, wrote of a "powerful and moving moment" with Bush and an ecumenical group of religious leaders. "One of our group asked, 'Mr. President, what can we do for you?' He indicated that we could 'pray for me, for our country, for my family.' He believes in the efficacy of prayer and needs wisdom and guidance and grace, he said. A Greek Orthodox archbishop was invited to lead us in prayer. We all joined hands in a prayer circle, including the president."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

Published on Monday, December 31, 2001 in the Washington Post
U.S. Lacks Stockpile of Special Drug
Anti-Radiation Doses Goal Unmet Since '79 
by Justin Gillis
A generation ago, as a nuclear disaster unfolded in central Pennsylvania and 140,000 people fled the area, pharmaceutical executives were rousted from bed in the middle of the night by a plea for help.At the federal government's request, they cranked up a production line in Illinois at 3 a.m., and hours later, thousands of bottles of potassium iodide, an anti-radiation drug, were secretly rushed to Harrisburg by military jet. Ultimately the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island was brought under control and the drug was not needed, but it was a close call. When it was over, policymakers in Washington vowed to stockpile the drug, saying they would not be caught short again.

It never happened.

Terrorists have spoken longingly of their desire to blow up the United States' nuclear plants and poison the land with radiation. But if a nuclear disaster were to occur today, whether by terrorist strike or otherwise, the government might well be in the same position it was in 1979, trying to scare up supplies of the drug on short notice.
Also See:Anti-Radiation Drug Will Be Offered to U.S. States
Reuters 12/21/01
Agency Weighs Buying Drug to Protect Against Radiation-Induced Ailments
New York Times 11/29/01

Potassium iodide is often billed on the Internet as a panacea for a nuclear emergency. It is nothing of the sort, offering no protection for most types of radiation exposure. But there is strong scientific evidence that it can protect the thyroid gland, the most radiation-sensitive part of the body, from absorbing trace amounts of radioactive iodine, particularly in young children.

Despite that finding, there has long been a serious debate about how valuable stockpiles of the drug would be in a real-world emergency, since it is most effective when taken within a couple of hours of radiation exposure. Unless people already had it in their houses, skeptics argue, getting it to them that quickly would be difficult, at best. Most European countries and four U.S. states stockpile the drug for general public use, while the rest of the states and the federal government do not.

 That policy is under renewed scrutiny since the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax scare that followed. The federal government was better prepared for the anthrax emergency, in fact, than it would be to distribute potassium iodide for radiation. It had stockpiled millions of doses of antibiotics and was able to draw on those stores when thousands of exposed people needed preventive medicine. The lack of a potassium iodide stockpile irks many doctors and other experts who have delved into the issue.

"The first thing is, there ain't none available," said David Becker, a Cornell University specialist in thyroid diseases. "Some of us in organizations like the American Thyroid Association have been yelling and screaming for 15 years about this. It seems to me it doesn't make any sense for the U.S. not to have any at all."

Potassium iodide is not expensive, nor is it difficult to manufacture or store for long periods. The drug is approved for thyroid protection by the Food and Drug Administration, a position the agency reiterated earlier this month.

One reason for the lack of a stockpile is that, however cheap it may be, potassium iodide is also controversial.

The nuclear power industry, which stocks potassium iodide to protect workers in its plants, has long opposed a large public stockpile, carrying as it would the implication that nuclear power might be unsafe.

Some experts charged with protecting the public from radiation oppose it, too, fearing the drug would be seen as a cure-all. These experts contend that evacuation and careful monitoring of the food supply would be better ways to protect public health.

In the halls of Congress and elsewhere in the nation, these arguments are being scrutinized anew. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, after going back and forth for years, has adopted a policy that is mildly favorable toward potassium iodide. The Health and Human Services Department is considering whether to add the drug to its national anti-terrorism stockpile.

Under the new NRC policy, states must decide whether to tap NRC funds to create regional or local stockpiles. This means a public discussion of the drug and its potential usefulness is likely to occur in virtually every state over the next year.

The drug is a hot political issue in some communities. Alabama, Arizona, Maine and Tennessee already have some form of stockpiling. The citizens of Duxbury, Mass., who live near a nuclear plant, passed a stockpiling plan last year. Vermont recently pledged an expanded stockpile, and a vigorous debate is underway throughout New England and in some towns in New York.
The World Health Organization recommends stockpiling for every country with nuclear reactors operating within or near its borders. Ireland just announced plans to send the drug to every household in the country.

Potassium iodide availability is one of those issues that rarely rises to public awareness, but it has a long underground history that has played out in Washington and in state capitals over decades. The arguments being heard today are familiar ones to participants in that debate, with fear of terrorism as the new twist.

"In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it's déjà vuall over again," said Jerome Halperin, the man who rousted pharmaceutical executives from bed during the Three Mile Island crisis. He was then an officer of the FDA, and he has a hard time believing the nation has no stockpile 22 years after the federal government promised to build one.

"It's the appropriate, rational, public-health-preparedness thing to do," he said. "Why wouldn't we expect it?"

But others are skeptical of the value of stockpiling. Illinois, for instance, has 11 nuclear reactors operating on six sites, more than any other state, and it has made some of the most elaborate plans in the nation for responding to a radiation emergency. They call for people to evacuate or take shelter when necessary to escape a radiation plume, but they do not call for potassium iodide. Most other states that have considered the issue have adopted the same position.

 The Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade association for the nuclear industry that has long opposed stockpiling, says it can live with the new NRC policy, but its experts remain skeptical of the real-world value of potassium iodide. "Concern No. 1 is that people not get confused that this is some sort of panacea for any kind of radiation exposure," said Ralph Andersen, chief health physicist at the nuclear institute.

The value -- and the limitations -- of potassium iodide have been known to researchers for decades, and there is little dispute on the scientific points.

Nuclear reactors produce many radioactive substances that can harm people. One, radioactive iodine, poses a particular worry because the human thyroid gland uses iodine as a fundamental building block of hormones that play critical roles in metabolism. The body cannot distinguish the safe form of iodine present in food and table salt from the radioactive form that comes from nuclear reactors.

It has been known since the 1950s that young children are acutely sensitive to radioactive iodine, but the point was illustrated dramatically when the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine blew up in 1986, scattering radiation across hundreds of miles.

For those living at a distance from the plant, virtually the only known health effect has been a huge spike in cases of thyroid cancer among children. At least 2,000 "excess" cases in Ukraine, Belarus and nearby areas have been attributed to Chernobyl radiation. Thyroid cancer can usually be treated, but that may require surgery, regular monitoring and lifetime medication.

 The idea behind potassium iodide is that the thyroid gland can store only so much iodine. A potassium iodide pill given near the time of radiation exposure floods the gland with safe iodine and reduces or eliminates the absorption of radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide is the same chemical used to add iodine to table salt, but the pills contain higher doses. Anyone can buy the pills, though they are not widely available in stores and most people do not know about them.
Potassium iodide can protect people only from radioactive iodine, not other kinds of radioactive fallout. Bearing that in mind, skeptics say the much-preferred course, in an accident, would be to get people out of the radioactive plume or into shelters. Advocates of the drug tend to agree, they but argue that if evacuation plans went awry, potassium iodide would be better than nothing.

Whatever the merits of these positions, there is no doubt that during Three Mile Island, the nation's closest brush with nuclear disaster, the government wound up scrambling to round up supplies of the drug at the last minute.

In that episode, a partial "meltdown" at a nuclear plant led to the release of small amounts of radioactive material, including iodine. For several days there was fear the reactor would explode, and state evacuation plans turned out to be woefully inadequate. Given the prospect of widespread radiation exposure, the FDA decided midway through the disaster to rush a supply of potassium iodide to Pennsylvania.

Hunkered down at an FDA emergency center, Halperin and colleagues spent the evening of March 30, 1979, desperately calling pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Finally Mallinckrodt Inc. of St. Louis said it had bulk drug on hand and could package it at a plant in Illinois. The first bottles were flown to Harrisburg the next evening by Air Force jet.

To forestall a riot, no public announcement was made about the drug. The emergency passed without it being used, and eventually the stockpile grew old and was discarded.

A presidential commission that investigated the accident, appalled by this frantic episode, recommended broad stockpiling of the drug in the areas around nuclear reactors, and the NRC agreed. But as memories of the emergency faded, the agency backed out of that commitment, and the issue has been periodically debated ever since.

Many opponents of stockpiling acknowledge that Chernobyl provides compelling evidence of the risk of thyroid cancer from a radiation disaster, but they say a comparable degree of exposure would be unlikely in this country.

When Chernobyl blew up, the Soviet Union spent days lying about the accident and failed to halt distribution of contaminated food. There is evidence that much of the radioactive exposure came from this failure. The radioactive iodine fell on fields, cows ate the grass, and children drank milk from the cows. Safety experts say the United States, by contrast, would almost certainly move quickly to block radioactive food.

The most recent federal policy change on potassium iodide came before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, but the issue has taken on a new urgency since those attacks.

The change was initiated from within the NRC itself. Peter Crane, then a lawyer on the agency's staff, was a thyroid-cancer victim who thought the failure to stockpile could not be defended. He filed a petition as a member of the public in 1995, then spent years prodding the agency. It eventually adopted a compromise under which it has pledged to pay for potassium iodide for states that want it.

The NRC is still finalizing plans to implement that policy. Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Department is considering buying some of the drug to add to its own anti-terrorism stockpiles. However, there is debate about whether the drug could be distributed from these regional stockpiles quickly enough to do any good.

The most aggressive plan would be to follow several European countries in distributing the drug to every household. But American experience suggests that would be a difficult policy to maintain over the long term. Tennessee launched such a program in the early 1980s for people living near nuclear plants, but participation has dropped to about 5 percent of households.
Tennessee maintains stockpiles near its emergency shelters, however, and is confident it could make the drug available quickly to large numbers of people.

"It doesn't seem like very much of a burden, what we're doing," said Ruth Hagstrom, the state health administrator who would give the order if potassium iodide ever had to be used in Tennessee. "We're sort of happy with the way we do things, and we wonder why everybody else doesn't do it, too."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

November 25, 2001, AP - Eugene Register-Guard, page 2A, U.S. Teams seek al-Qaeda clues amid chaos of retreat,

November 25, 2001, AP - St. Petersburg Times, Intruders at al-Qaida sites hamper hunt for clues,

WASHINGTON -- The safe houses and camps where Osama bin Laden's network did business in Afghanistan are the focus of U.S. teams looking for clues to his whereabouts and how his al-Qaida organization worked.

But the abandoned sites also are being overrun -- by Northern Alliance fighters hunting for souvenirs, by curious Afghans and by reporters -- and that is raising questions about how much evidence, undisturbed and useful, will be left.

Americans are "on the chase now," but al-Qaida seems "awfully good at covering tracks," said Richard Murphy, a former assistant secretary of state now with the private Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

After the Kosovo conflict, the United States sent dozens of FBI forensic experts to look for physical evidence that Serbian forces had committed atrocities. The region essentially became a giant crime scene.

This time, the United States does not need such evidence to bring before military courts; it already has plenty, many legal experts say, including bin Laden's own words urging attacks on Americans.

Instead, U.S. special operations teams are after information about how bin Laden operated, whether he sought weapons of mass destruction, and especially where bin Laden, his al-Qaida fighters and Taliban protectors have gone.

Intelligence officials say the most current information about bin Laden's whereabouts more likely will come from defectors.

The American teams are searching and taking samples from sites where bin Laden or his followers may have been making chemical or biological weapons.

On the ground, Afghans say there seem to be few systematic efforts to protect such sites to keep evidence undisturbed.

Journalists have found documents relating to deadly chemicals and bacteria in houses abandoned by al-Qaida in Kabul, the capital. Material in Arabic, Urdu, Russian and English indicates al-Qaida was studying chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons.

At a training base on the southern edge of the city, reporters found a letter home from a recruit that indicated al-Qaida trainees were there this month.

Two journalists, one Spanish and one Italian, who visited a site in the eastern village of Farmada said they found a vial with Cyrillic letters reading "sarin," a nerve gas. But reporters who later visited the same compound, where bin Laden reportedly lived, said it had been cleaned out since then.

Bin Laden has said his group has chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons. U.S. officials have said al-Qaida probably has crude chemical or biological weapons but not a nuclear bomb.

After the fighting in Kosovo, the FBI teams gathered physical evidence that was used to corroborate witness statements alleging that Serbian forces committed war crimes against ethnic Albanian civilians.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, on charges of committing war crimes in Kosovo based in part on that evidence. Just last week, the tribunal also accused Milosevic of genocide in Bosnia.

In Afghanistan, in contrast, the United States probably only has to show bin Laden's own fatwas, or religious rulings, that call for attacks on Americans, and prove that someone was a member of al-Qaida, to convict under a military tribunal, said Ruth Wedgwood, an international law professor at Yale University and Johns Hopkins University.

"Bin Laden has simplified the job of any prosecutors by issuing his indiscreet fatwas," Wedgwood said.

December 16, 2001 [09:24 PM ET] Reuters, German Firm Probes Final World Trade Center Deals, by Erik Kirschbaum,

PIRMASENS, Germany (Reuters) - German computer experts are working round the clock to unlock the truth behind an unexplained surge in financial transactions made just before two hijacked planes crashed into New York's World Trade Center on September 11.

Were criminals responsible for the sharp rise in credit card transactions that moved through some computer systems at the WTC shortly before the planes hit the twin towers?

Or was it coincidence that unusually large sums of money, perhaps more than $100 million, were rushed through the computers as the disaster unfolded?

A world leader in retrieving data, German-based firm Convar is trying to answer those questions and help credit card companies, telecommunications firms and accountants in New York recover their records from computer hard drives that have been partially damaged by fire, water or fine dust.

Using a pioneering laser scanning technology to find data on damaged computer hard drives and main frames found in the rubble of the World Trade Center and other nearby collapsed buildings, Convar has recovered information from 32 computers that support assumptions of dirty doomsday dealings.

"The suspicion is that inside information about the attack was used to send financial transaction commands and authorizations in the belief that amid all the chaos the criminals would have, at the very least, a good head start," said Convar director Peter Henschel.

"Of course it is also possible that there were perfectly legitimate reasons for the unusual rise in business volume," he told Reuters in an interview.


"It could turn out that Americans went on an absolute shopping binge on that Tuesday morning. But at this point there are many transactions that cannot be accounted for," Henschel said.

"Not only the volume but the size of the transactions was far higher than usual for a day like that. There is a suspicion that these were possibly planned to take advantage of the chaos."

Nearly 3,300 people were killed in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.

Some 30,000 people in the buildings, symbols of America's financial might, were able to escape between the time the planes crashed and about an hour later when they collapsed -- even though many of the unmanned computers continued working.

The United States blames the al Qaeda group led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden for the attack and has since waged war on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that sheltered them.


There are several data retrieval companies in the United States and Europe, but Convar said it has won the lion's share of the contracts from the World Trade Center because of its laser scanning technology.

Convar developed the laser scanner two years ago that made it possible to retrieve data from badly damaged computers.

With a staff of 30 in its high-security facility in Pirmasens near the French border, the firm has worked with the U.S. armed forces in Germany as well as German federal police for the last 15 years.

Its offices in Pirmasens, a town of 36,000 still suffering from the departure of some 4,000 American soldiers stationed here during the Cold War, are closely guarded behind high fences and monitored by dozens of security cameras.

Inside the building, an endless series of code-operated door locks keeps unwelcome visitors away. In the center of the facility is a 120 square meter (1,292 square foot), dust-free "clean room" where the damaged computer drives are coaxed back to life.

Citing client privacy, Henschel declined to say which companies Convar is working for, or provide details about the data retrieved so far. But he said the raw material, up to 40 gigabytes per computer hard drive, is sent immediately by satellite or courier back to New York.


Richard Wagner, a data retrieval expert at the company, said illegal transfers of more than $100 million might have been made immediately before and during the disaster.

"There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million," Wagner said. "They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed."

The companies are paying between $20,000 and $30,000 for each computer recovered, Henschel said.

The high recovery costs are one reason why only a limited number of hard drives are being examined. Convar has turned down a request by one British newspaper to try to recover personal last hour e-mails sent by someone trapped in the doomed building.

Henschel said the companies in the United States were working together with the FBI to piece together what happened on September 11 and that he was confident the destination of the dubious transactions would one day be tracked down.

"We have been quite surprised that so many of the hard drives were in good enough shape to retrieve the data," he said.

"The contamination rate is high. The fine dust that was everywhere in the area got pressed under high pressure into the drives. But we've still been able to retrieve 100 percent of the data on most of the drives we've received.

"We're helping them find out what happened to the computers on September 11 as quickly as possible. I'm sure that one day they will know what happened to the money."

December 18, 2001, Reuters, Computer Experts Probe Sept. 11 Deals,

German computer experts are working round the clock to unlock the truth behind an unexplained surge in financial transactions made just before two hijacked planes crashed into New York's World Trade Center on September 11.

Were criminals responsible for the sharp rise in credit card transactions that moved through Or was it coincidence that unusually large sums of money, perhaps more than $100 million, were rushed through the computers as the disaster unfolded?

A world leader in retrieving data, German-based firm Convar is trying to answer those questions and help credit card companies, telecommunications firms and accountants in New York recover their records from computer hard drives that have been partially damaged by fire, water or fine dust.

Using a pioneering laser scanning technology to find data on damaged computer hard drives and main frames found in the rubble of the World Trade Center and other nearby collapsed buildings, Convar has recovered information from 32 computers that support assumptions of dirty doomsday dealings.

"The suspicion is that inside information about the attack was used to send financial transaction commands and authorisations in the belief that amid all the chaos the criminals would have, at the very least, a good head start," said Convar director Peter Henschel.

"Of course it is also possible that there were perfectly legitimate reasons for the unusual rise in business volume," he told Reuters in an interview.

Profiting from disaster?

"It could turn out that Americans went on an absolute shopping binge on that Tuesday morning. But at this point there are many transactions that cannot be accounted for," Henschel said.

"Not only the volume but the size of the transactions was far higher than usual for a day like that. There is a suspicion that these were possibly planned to take advantage of the chaos."

Nearly 3,300 people were killed in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center. Some 30,000 people in the buildings, symbols of America's financial might, were able to escape between the time the planes crashed and about an hour later when they collapsed -- even though many of the unmanned computers continued working.

The United States blames the al Qaeda group led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden for the attack and has since waged war on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that sheltered them.

Advance knowledge of attack?

There are several data retrieval companies in the United States and Europe, but Convar said it has won the lion's share of the contracts from the World Trade Center because of its laser scanning technology.

Convar developed the laser scanner two years ago that made it possible to retrieve data from badly damaged computers.

With a staff of 30 in its high-security facility in Pirmasens near the French border, the firm has worked with the U.S. armed forces in Germany as well as German federal police for the last 15 years.

Its offices in Pirmasens, a town of 36,000 still suffering from the departure of some 4,000 American soldiers stationed here during the Cold War, are closely guarded behind high fences and monitored by dozens of security cameras.

Inside the building, an endless series of code-operated door locks keeps unwelcome visitors away. In the center of the facility is a 1,292 square foot, dust-free "clean room" where the damaged computer drives are coaxed back to life.

Citing client privacy, Henschel declined to say which companies Convar is working for, or provide details about the data retrieved so far. But he said the raw material, up to 40 gigabytes per computer hard drive, is sent immediately by satellite or courier back to New York.

Money trail

Richard Wagner, a data retrieval expert at the company, said illegal transfers of more than $100 million might have been made immediately before and during the disaster.

"There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 milliion," Wagner said. "They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed."

The companies are paying between $20,000 and $30,000 for each computer recovered, Henschel said.

The high recovery costs are one reason why only a limited number of hard drives are being examined. Convar has turned down a request by one British newspaper to try to recover personal last hour e-mails sent by someone trapped in the doomed building.

Henschel said the companies in the United States were working together with the FBI to piece together what happened on September 11 and that he was confident the destination of the dubious transactions would one day be tracked down.

"We have been quite surprised that so many of the hard drives were in good enough shape to retrieve the data," he said.

"The contamination rate is high. The fine dust that was everywhere in the area got pressed under high pressure into the drives. But we've still been able to retrieve 100 percent of the data on most of the drives we've received.

"We're helping them find out what happened to the computers on September 11 as quickly as possible. I'm sure that one day they will know what happened to the money."

June 9, 2005, The Washington Times, CIA didn't tell FBI about 9/11 hijackersdiigo,

Twenty months before the September 11, 2001, attacks, the CIA knew but never told the FBI that two of the al Qaeda hijackers were in California, where they befriended a Saudi national who was the focus of an FBI investigation and rented a room from an FBI informant, according to a report yesterday.

The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General, in the 371-page report, documented "at least five opportunities" for the FBI to have learned about the presence in the U.S. of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi "that could have led to an earlier investigation." The two al Qaeda terrorists helped commandeer American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.

The unclassified but redacted report also said the "limited information" that was given by the CIA to the FBI never was documented by the bureau or placed in any system from which it could be retrieved by agents investigating terrorist threats. It said FBI supervisors lacked adequate oversight of agents assigned to work with the CIA and failed to give counterterrorism investigations priority.

"We cannot say whether the FBI would have prevented the attacks had they handled these matters differently," said Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. "Such a judgment would be speculative and beyond the scope of our inquiry."

"But … the way the FBI handled these matters was a significant failure that hindered the FBI’s chances of being able to detect and prevent the September 11 attacks."

The FBI, in a statement, said it has "undergone a transformation aimed at strengthening" its ability to predict and prevent terrorist acts and has taken "substantial steps" to address problems outlined in the report. It said most of the inspector general's recommendations have "either been completed or are well underway."

The report, whose contents have been discussed publicly but in significantly less detail, also questioned the handling by FBI supervisors of an e-mail from an agent in Phoenix, who suggested Osama bin Laden was sending al Qaeda members to flight schools in Arizona, and a memo from FBI agents in Minneapolis, who had focused on the activities of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person since indicted as a part of the September 11 conspiracy.

Information on Moussaoui was deleted because his case is pending in federal court in Alexandria.

The report said al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar traveled to San Diego after arriving in the United States in January 2000, where they met with Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national who had been under investigation by the FBI for two years — although the probe had been closed in June 1999. Al-Bayoumi helped them find a place to live.

The report also said the two men rented a room from an FBI informant, whose "handler" was an agent in San Diego and who remained as an FBI "asset" until the agent retired in 2002. The unidentified informant declined to be interviewed for the report.

According to the report, the FBI did not discover that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were in the United States until “shortly before the September 11 attacks,” but that a follow-up investigation was done "without much urgency or priority."

It said that while FBI agents in New York wanted to pursue information they received in August 2001 that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were in the city, they were "specifically prohibited from doing so" by supervisors concerned about keeping criminal and intelligence investigations separate — which the report described as "the wall."

According to the report, one frustrated agent said in an e-mail at the time: "Someday someone will die — and wall or not — the public will not understand why we were not more effective in throwing every resource we had at certain problems."

July 5, 2005, The New Yorker, The Terrorism Beat,

WASHINGTON — A Virginia man whose name and phone number were found in a car registered to one of the 19 suspected hijackers was ordered held without bond Wednesday. A prosecutor described him as an essential witness and "he may be more."

U.S. Magistrate Curtis Sewell ordered Mohamed Abdi of Alexandria held following a hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, a suburb of Washington.

When Abdi was arrested, FBI agent Kevin W. Ashby testified, he had a newspaper article about Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian who was convicted of conspiring to bomb the Los Angeles airport as part of a millennium terror plot. Ressam testified at a separate trial earlier this year that he spent six months training at terrorists camps in Afghanistan.

Abdi, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, works as a $22,000-a-year security guard, said Joseph Bowman, his lawyer. He did not say where Abdi is employed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Spencer said Abdi also has worked for an airline security company, but did not identify the company.

Spencer, who described Abdi as an essential witness and possibly more, argued that he should be held without bond. "The pressure on him to abscond will be incredible," he said.

Abdi was one of two men ordered held without bond Wednesday in Alexandria. After a separate hearing, Sewell granted the government's request to detain Herbert Villalobos, who was arrested Monday in Arlington, Va.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, said that about 20 people have been charged since the Sept. 11 attacks with fraudulently obtaining licenses to transport hazardous materials.

Declaring that terrorism "is a clear and present danger to Americans today," Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday that some people who sought such licenses may have links to the hijackers of the four planes that crashed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, killing thousands.

"Intelligence information available to the FBI indicates a potential for additional terrorist incidents," the attorney general told Congress.

Villalobos was charged with helping one of the suspected hijackers, Abdulaziz Alomari, obtain a fraudulent Virginia ID card. His lawyer argued that the charge did not warrant holding him without bond, but Sewell disagreed.

"One of the unspoken issues after the events of Sept. 11" is "is it going to be business as usual," Sewell said. "I suspect not."

Abdi was charged with forging his landlord's signature on housing subsidy checks he was receiving from Arlington County and cashing the checks.

Investigators said the name "Mohumed" and a phone number registered to Abdi were written on a Washington road map found inside a car parked in a lot at Dulles International Airport, where American Airlines flight 77 was hijacked. The plane, a Boeing 757, smashed into the Pentagon.

The car, found the day after the hijackings, was registered to Nawaq Alhamzi, identified by the FBI as one of the hijackers of the American flight, the records said. The FBI also found a cashier's check made out to a flight school in Phoenix; four drawings of the cockpit of a 757 jet; a box-cutter-type knife; and maps of Washington and New York.

Bowman, appointed by the court to represent Abdi, said the Alexandria man is just "a guy trying to make his way" who had "his name found in an unfortunate place."

When he was arrested, Abdi told authorities he had donated his car to the Salvation Army in 1999 and speculated that the map with his phone number and name had been left in that car and somehow transferred to Alhamzi's car.

But Ashby said the FBI determined that Abdi did not have that phone number in 1999.

Ashcroft's warning about trucks carrying hazardous materials came one day after the government lifted a two-day grounding of all crop-dusters. Canadian authorities said Wednesday they have received reports of suspicious inquiries abut crop-dusting planes from two aerial spraying companies in Saskatchewan.

Nabil Al-Marabh, 34, a former Boston cab driver taken into custody in Chicago last week by investigators, holds a commercial driver's license and is certified to transport hazardous materials. Al-Marabh has been moved to New York for questioning.

The focus on trucks with hazardous materials follows disclosures that Mohamed Atta, suspected of piloting one of the two hijacked passenger airliners that struck the World Trade Center, was interested in farm crop-dusting planes. Ashcroft said the FBI had gathered information raising fears that agricultural aircraft could be used in a biological or chemical attack.

A convicted terrorist collaborator testified just two months ago about another potential threat, saying in court that he trained for a chemical attack at a camp inside Afghanistan where poison was unleashed to kill dogs.

"In regard to targets in general ... we were speaking about America," Ahmed Ressam testified in July. Ressam said terrorist trainers discussed dispensing poison through the air intake vents of buildings to ensure the maximum amount of casualties.

In the probe of the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI is investigating whether some of the hijackers who destroyed the World Trade Center practiced their approaches by renting small planes at New Jersey flight schools and flying along the Hudson River toward the twin towers.

In France, anti-terrorist police detained at least four people early Tuesday in connection with a planned attack on the U.S. Embassy in Paris and other U.S. interests in France. Seven people already were in custody in France in connection with the alleged plot.

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