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Tenet meets Congress behind closed doors

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 17, 2003

WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats insisted Wednesday the White House was clearly responsible for including false information about Iraq's weapons program in President Bush's State of the Union speech.

Senators spoke after CIA director George Tenet made a 41/2-hour closed-door appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Tenet repeated his statement that he bears responsibility for allowing Bush to include in his State of the Union speech a claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa for a nuclear weapons program.

But Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said the issue wasn't why Tenet failed to keep the information out of the speech but who was so determined to put it in and why.

"All roads still lead back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," he said, referring to the White House address. "The question is, who in the White House was so determined to put information in the State of the Union which had been discounted so dramatically by American intelligence sources?"

Responding to a question, committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said White House officials could possibly be called before the panel to discuss the handling of the intelligence.

Tenet as "very contrite," Roberts said. "He was very candid, very forthcoming. He accepted full responsibility."

General: 3rd Infantry will leave Iraq by September

WASHINGTON - The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq rushed Wednesday to reassure members of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division and their families that the troops will leave for home by September, an announcement designed to quell growing frustration about the unit's lengthy deployment.

"We will bring those troops home by September, certainly out of Iraq by September, and they'll be moving toward home in September," Army Gen. John Abizaid said. "It's very, very important to all of us to make sure that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines know when they're coming home."

Abizaid warned 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who had criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in ABC News interviews this week they might be disciplined.

In the interview, one soldier said "if Rumsfeld was here, I'd ask him for his resignation." Another was quoted as saying of the Iraqis, "I used to want to help these people, and now I don't really care about them any more."

Abizaid said he found such comments from troops "unfortunate." He indicated any decision about disciplinary action would be made by local commanders.

Court-martial decision rests with 18th Airborne

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - The decision on whether to court-martial a 101st Airborne Division soldier charged in a grenade attack in Kuwait will be handled by a different military body, officials said Wednesday.

Sgt. Hasan Akbar, 32, is charged with two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, said the case is being transferred to the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C., because the 101st continues to be busy with operations in Iraq.

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