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Congress asks about contracts

By Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 23, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Senate went on record Thursday in favor of full competition for companies seeking to help rebuild Iraq, and Congress pressed for a public explanation when contracts are awarded without open bidding.

The Senate, by voice vote, placed nonbinding language in a defense spending bill that sought to change, as soon as possible, the policies of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Both the House and Senate asked the Bush administration to publish justifications for the lack of competition. The Senate specifically asked the corps to quickly replace a noncompetitive award to a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Pentagon lists 6 killed in two accidents

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon on Thursday disclosed the names of four Marines killed Monday when their CH-46 transport helicopter crashed into a canal in central Iraq shortly after takeoff:

Capt. Andrew David Lamont, 31, of Eureka, Calif.; Lance Cpl. Jason William Moore, 21, of San Marcos, Calif.; 1st Lt. Timothy Louis Ryan, 30, of Aurora, Ill.; and Staff Sgt. Aaron Dean White, 27, of Shawnee, Okla.

They were assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

A fifth Marine drowned trying to save them. He was identified Wednesday as Sgt. Kirk Allen Straseskie, 23, of Beaver Dam, Wis. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, from Camp Pendleton.

The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in the Shat al-Hillah Canal near Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, according to a U.S. Central Command statement. It was on a resupply mission. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The Pentagon also announced that Spc. Nathaniel A. Caldwell, 27, of Omaha, Neb., was killed Wednesday in Baghdad when his vehicle rolled over.

Caldwell was assigned to the 404th Air Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas.

Ex-official wanted in war crimes is captured

WASHINGTON - Reports of a death notice and a mourning ceremony did not fool U.S. forces tracking down Aziz Saleh al-Numan, the highest-ranking capture on the list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis.

U.S. forces captured al-Numan, a former senior Baath Party leader, despite the reported efforts by his family to throw them off track. He was No. 8 on Central Command's list.

Al-Numan "is now in custody of coalition forces," a brief U.S. Central Command statement said Thursday. He was captured by coalition forces Wednesday near Baghdad.

U.S. officials have said al-Numan is one of nine top Iraqi leaders whom the United States wants to see tried for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Thousands of Iraqi fighters remain, Congress hears

WASHINGTON - Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress on Thursday that American forces in Iraq still face "several tens of thousands" of fighters who are sufficiently armed and organized to be considered "something close to light infantry."

This is in addition to the 20,000 criminals that Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said were released from Baghdad jails during the war.

VEHICLE AMBUSHED: Residents of Fallujah threatened more resistance to American troops occupying the Iraqi city Thursday, after a U.S. armored vehicle was ambushed during a late-night raid and two Iraqi civilians were reportedly shot to death.

Two U.S. Army Bradley fighting vehicles were patrolling the area when one was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade late Wednesday in Fallujah's industrial section, U.S. Army Capt. Allen Vaught said.

The U.S. occupation remains highly unpopular in the city west of Baghdad. At least 16 locals were killed there in late April in confrontations with U.S. forces.

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