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Reserves activated for 'homeland defense'

As many as 50,000 members of the National Guard will be called to duty after a national state of emergency is declared.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2001


As many as 50,000 members of the National Guard will be called to duty after a national state of emergency is declared.

President Bush declared a state of national emergency Friday and authorized a callup of members of the National Guard and Reserve, the first since the Persian Gulf War.

Meanwhile, a unanimous Congress authorized the spending of $40-billion for retaliation against those responsible for Tuesday's terrorist attacks, and recovery and relief for the areas struck. Lawmakers also neared final approval of a resolution allowing the president to exercise "all necessary and appropriate force" against the terrorists.

The Pentagon will call as many as 50,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve to active duty for "homeland defense," including Cold War-style patrols of U.S. airspace from coast to coast, officials said.

Bush said in a formal declaration of national emergency that the extra troops are needed in light of a "continuing and immediate threat" of further terrorist attacks on the United States.

Under the authorization, the Pentagon could call as many as 1-million reservists to active duty, although Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he would call no more than 50,000. Victoria Clarke, spokeswoman for Rumsfeld, said the first callups would come within days.

The largest share, 13,000, will come from Air Force Reserves. An additional 10,000 would be called from the Army, 3,000 from the Navy, 7,500 from the Marines and 2,000 from the Coast Guard.

It is the first time the president has authorized a partial mobilization of the reserves since January 1991, when 265,322 were called to active duty at the outset of the Gulf War.

A key task for those called up will be continental air defense, a mission the active-duty military ceded to Air National Guard in the aftermath of the Cold War. Normally, only 20 fighter-interceptors are on 24-hour alert to protect against unauthorized violations of U.S. and Canadian airspace, but after Tuesday's attacks from hijacked airliners, Rumsfeld ordered combat air patrols over numerous U.S. cities.

On Capitol Hill, Congress gave rapid-fire approval to a $40-billion down payment to help the nation recover and rebuild from terror attacks and retaliate against the people and governments responsible.

Lawmakers also neared overwhelming passage of a measure to allow the president to use force against the terrorists, their sponsors and their protectors. Leaders also hoped to push legislation through the House on Friday providing $2.5-billion in cash, up to $12.5-billion in guaranteed loans and other help to the airline industry, which faces potentially staggering losses from the aftereffects of Tuesday's attacks. The Senate might act next week. Lawmakers were also considering future funds for insurance companies, emphasizing the domino effect the attacks could have on the economy and government.

The aid for those industries would come from the $40-billion emergency measure. Its funds, in turn, will come from projected budget surpluses, most of it probably from funds designated for Social Security. Gone was talk of the sanctity of that program's surpluses that had dominated Capitol Hill until Tuesday.

The spending measure was approved 96-0 by the Senate and 422-0 by the House.

The resolution authorizing the use of military force was approved 98-0 by the Senate. House passage was expected late Friday after an evening that saw one lawmaker after another hurl condemnations at the terrorists and their supporters.

Also Friday:

WAR BONDS MAY RETURN: Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says it's time to bring back war bonds. He and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., introduced legislation authorizing the Treasury Department to establish a special category of U.S. savings bonds.

McConnell said the new revenue would help the government pay for rebuilding and antiterrorism initiatives.

NOMINEES APPROVED: In a voice vote, the Senate confirmed John Negroponte as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Senators said the quick action on Negroponte's nomination would help Bush arrange a coalition of nations in the fight against international terrorism. The post, which was previously held by Richard Holbrooke, has been vacant since January.

MONUMENTS CLOSED: Washington's most enduring symbols of freedom -- the Capitol, the White House and the presidential memorials -- were closed to the public as an expanded security zone enveloped the White House most of the day.

As night fell, though, the White House security zone shrank back to its normal perimeter. The military police who were patrolling Washington streets in Humvees began to disappear as well.

TAX EXTENSION: The IRS delayed upcoming tax deadlines for a week nationwide. A Monday deadline facing people who make quarterly estimated tax payments was moved to Sept. 24. About 13-million taxpayers pay estimated taxes of more than $190-billion a year, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

IMF, WORLD BANK MEETINGS: The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are postponing their annual meetings this month because of security concerns after the terrorist attacks against the United States, the Associated Press reported Friday, quoting unnamed officials. A formal announcement was expected Monday, the officials said.

In the meantime, the AFL-CIO, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam America all announced that they were pulling out of planned demonstrations at the meetings.

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