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CIA chief to testify to Senate panel today

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 16, 2003

WASHINGTON - George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, is expected to answer questions before a closed-door Senate panel today about the reliability of intelligence indicating Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium.

On Oct. 1, the nation's intelligence agencies circulated to senior administration officials and to Congress a classified "National Intelligence Estimate" that described how Iraq might have been seeking uranium in Niger, Somalia and Congo. That reference has become the center of a controversy in recent weeks and is expected to be central in his questioning.

U.S.: You can go to Iraq, but please don't

WASHINGTON - The uncertain security situation in Iraq prompted the State Department to issue a mixed message Tuesday.

The department lifted a restriction on the use of U.S. passports to travel to Iraq, ending a travel ban for most Americans that had been in effect since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

But the department spokesman, Richard Boucher, also urged Americans not to visit Iraq. "The situation is generally dangerous," he said.

War's cost: $48-billion and rising fast

WASHINGTON - The military campaign in Iraq has cost the Pentagon about $48-billion so far, a number expected to rise by $10-billion by the end of September, the military's budget chief said Tuesday.

Dov Zakheim, the Defense Department's comptroller, said in an Associated Press interview that the estimated cost so far includes the combat phase, which started March 20, postwar stabilization efforts and $30-billion in prewar expenses such as moving troops to the region and building facilities there.

Also Tuesday . . .

LYNCH TO GO HOME: Former POW Jessica Lynch will be released from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on July 22, family spokesman Randy Coleman said. She will go home to West Virginia nearly four months after she was rescued by Special Forces during the war in Iraq.

SENATE BACKS BUSH: The Senate rejected an effort by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to curtail President Bush's deployment of National Guard and Reserve forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson voted against killing the amendment, and Sen. Bob Graham did not vote.

EUROPEAN FUNDING: The European Union is tentatively offering to help pay for reconstruction, provided that the money is administered by an international agency, like the World Bank or the United Nations, said Christopher Patten, the EU commissioner for external relations.

NO FRENCH PEACEKEEPERS: President Jacques Chirac said France would not send troops to Iraq to help the American peacekeeping effort. On Monday, India rejected a U.S. request for 17,000 peacekeeping troops.

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