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Nation in brief

New Graham book makes 9/11-Saudi link

By wire services
Published September 5, 2004

WASHINGTON - Two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had a support network in the United States that included agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a book to be released Tuesday.

The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers "would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration," the Florida Democrat wrote.

And in Graham's book, Intelligence Matters, obtained by the Miami Herald on Saturday, he makes clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Graham also revealed that Gen. Tommy Franks told him on Feb. 19, 2002, just four months after the invasion of Afghanistan, that many important resources - including the Predator drone aircraft crucial to the search for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida leaders - were being shifted to prepare for a war in Iraq.

Graham was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from June 2001 through the buildup to the Iraq war.

Four terminals at L.A. airport close for hours

LOS ANGELES - Four terminals at Los Angeles International Airport were shut down for more than three hours Saturday after a passenger bypassed security at one terminal and two flashlight batteries exploded during screening at another, authorities said.

The incidents, about a half-hour apart, were apparently unrelated and there was no link to terrorism, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration. Thousands of Labor Day weekend travelers were evacuated from the terminals.

The airport's main road, the Tom Bradley International Terminal and terminals 6, 7 and 8 were reopened around noon.

About 220 flights out of 1,800 were delayed because of the security concerns, said Hal Jackson, an airport spokesman.

Also . . .

CALIF. WILDFIRES: A 14,000-acre wildfire burned out of control Saturday in Sonoma County's wine country, as another fire in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada destroyed 11 homes. The Sonoma County fire, the largest burning in California, raced to within a few miles of vineyards by Saturday afternoon, and threatened as many as 200 homes.

BUS DRIVER SENTENCE: A Milwaukee school bus driver caught on a hidden tape recorder threatening to beat a 9-year-old boy with Down's Syndrome was sentenced to six months in jail. Brian Duchow, 29, pleaded guilty in May to one count of child abuse that intentionally caused great harm after a criminal complaint said he admitted slapping Jacob Matulo and cursing at him on the bus.

SCUBA RECORD: A Tennessee man beat his own record for staying underwater with scuba gear after five days in a lake, complete with recliner, a checkerboard, music and friends to keep him company. Jerry Hall, 39, of Bluff City, Tenn., already is in the Guinness World Book of Records for staying underwater with scuba gear for 71 hours, 39 minutes and 40 seconds. He surpassed that at 9:56 a.m. Wednesday and didn't leave Watauga Lake until Friday morning with a record time of 120 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds.

[Last modified September 4, 2004, 23:36:20]

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