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National briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2000

Clinton aides split on U.S. secrets bill

WASHINGTON -- Top Clinton administration aides failed to reach agreement Thursday on a controversial measure that makes it easier to prosecute government officials for leaking classified information, leaving it up to the president to weigh differing recommendations on whether he should sign or veto the legislation.

President Clinton, who is in California campaigning for Democrats, is nonetheless expected to decide today on the measure, which is part of the fiscal 2001 intelligence authorization bill. The anti-leak measure has drawn criticism in recent days from major media executives and organizations as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

RENO BACKS BILL: Attorney General Janet Reno on Thursday defended the anti-leak measure.

Reno said it would fill a gap in the law -- "a very narrow gap, involving other material that might not relate to national defense but could jeopardize various interests." She insisted that the provision would not lead to a "dramatically increased number of leak prosecutions."

Congress meets, will vote on Everglades today

WASHINGTON -- The chambers were deserted and the legislative agenda sparse, but Congress convened Thursday with House Republicans insisting they would not lay themselves open to Democratic accusations of quitting with the nation's work still undone.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a 13-day spending measure to keep government agencies in operation and also voted to adjourn until Nov. 14. Both measures must still be approved by the House. Until then, each chamber must go through the formality of brief daily sessions to pass 24-hour measures to avoid a government shutdown.

Today, in what could be the last major vote before the election, the House will vote on an Everglades restoration bill.

Officials: Embassy bomb suspects attack guard

NEW YORK -- Two U.S. embassy bombing suspects attacked a guard at a federal lockup, stabbing him in the eye and leaving him in critical condition, authorities said.

The Associated Press, quoting unnamed federal law enforcement sources, reported that the guard at the Metropolitan Correctional Center was stabbed in the eye Wednesday with a plastic comb that had been filed to a point.

The thrust was believed to be so severe that the guard lost his eye and the comb penetrated his brain, one source said.

The 43-year-old guard, whose name was not released, underwent surgery for more than 12 hours, said hospital spokeswoman Lorinda Klein. He was in critical condition Thursday.

Farrakhan has major surgery, is recuperating

WASHINGTON -- Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was recovering Thursday from major intestinal surgery.

Doctors at Howard University Hospital spent more than eight hours Wednesday repairing damage linked to radioactive seeds implanted in the minister's prostate after his 1991 cancer diagnosis.

Farrakhan is expected to return to Howard for periodic checkups after his release. He also will have to undergo a procedure early next year to restore his normal urinary function.

Also Thursday . . .

GRAHAM CRUSADE: An estimated 42,000 poured into Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville to attend the first night of the Rev. Billy Graham's four-day crusade. Gov. Jeb Bush and Mayor John Delaney welcomed Graham.

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