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Fighting terror notebook

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 3, 2002

Bush to visit Sept. 11 sites on anniversary

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine -- The White House announced Friday that President Bush will mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with a solemn, daylong circuit of the three places where victims died: the Pentagon, New York and the Pennsylvania field where one of the hijacked planes crashed.

White House officials said they recognize Bush will command intense public attention during that week, and they plan numerous events to try to make the most of the sad spotlight. Closer to the time, Bush will make suggestions about ways he hopes Americans will mark the occasion, the White House announced.

Bush left Washington on Friday for a three-day weekend in Maine at his parents' seaside compound. His departure marks the start of a virtually uninterrupted monthlong absence from the capital, much of it at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Karzai says U.S. troops didn't cover up evidence

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- President Hamid Karzai dismissed allegations Friday that the United States tried to cover up a deadly airstrike and said a continued American presence was crucial to Afghanistan's future.

Flanked by U.S. Special Forces bodyguards, Karzai said he visited one of the villages attacked in the July 1 air raid, and when asked if he believed there had been a coverup said, "I don't think so. People would have told me."

Karzai said the air attack in Uruzgan province killed 46 civilians and wounded 117, many of them celebrating at a wedding party. The attack was investigated by the United States and by a separate United Nations fact-finding group. Previously, Afghan officials put the death toll at 48.

A U.N. report has not been publicly released, but the Times of London reported Monday that the initial draft concluded American forces may have removed evidence after the attack and violated human rights. U.S. officials denied the allegations.

"The U.N. report was not correct," Karzai said. He described the U.S. raid as "unfortunate" but said villagers were still tolerant of U.S. military presence. He said the United States has offered to pay $2-million for reconstruction.

U.S. told to reveal names of terror detainees

WASHINGTON -- The government must reveal the names of those held in the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal judge ruled Friday, rejecting claims terrorists could use the information to plot new crimes.

The Justice Department has not justified a blanket policy of secrecy about more than 1,000 people picked up since the attacks, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled. She gave the government 15 days to provide the names.

The Justice Department did not immediately say whether it will appeal.

"The decision is a complete repudiation of the attorney general's policy of rounding up hundreds of individuals in secrecy," said Kate Martin, whose Center for National Security Studies is among civil rights and human rights organizations that sued the government for information about the secret arrests.

Those arrested are all apparently foreign citizens, and many have been charged with immigration violations. Some have apparently been deported.

Rumsfeld has confidence in Franks, official says

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has "full and total confidence" in Gen. Tommy Franks and the "extraordinary job" he has done leading the war in Afghanistan, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman said Friday.

The comments from Victoria Clarke at a press briefing were in response to questions about a Washington Times article that cited unnamed sources who said that Rumsfeld was "not happy" with the speed at which enemy forces are being dealt with in Afghanistan and that some of the secretary's advisers view Franks as "too cautious."

The article Friday also said Rumsfeld had directed more covert activity and was to be briefed soon by Air Force Gen. Charles Holland, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Clarke would not comment specifically on that prospect, but she said defense officials "look at ways to improve what we're doing ... every single day."

Members of congressional panel refuse polygraph

WASHINGTON -- Some members of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks are rejecting FBI suggestions they undergo polygraph tests as part of an investigation into leaks from the panel -- a probe they had requested.

Among those objecting are two leaders of the inquiry: House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who have said the tests intrude on the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

"The Senate and, I assume, the House, has always investigated their own," said Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which are conducting the joint inquiry, requested the FBI investigation in June after CNN and other news organizations reported details of Arabic conversations intercepted by the National Security Agency on Sept. 10.

Shelby said he now believes inquiry leaders were wrong to ask the FBI to investigate the leaks. The inquiry is examining intelligence shortcomings by the FBI and other agencies leading up to the attacks.

"Here we are investigating the FBI for huge failures and now we're asking them to investigate us," he said.

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