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Archive for Saturday, March 16, 2002

Briefly

March 16, 2002

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Washington: U.S.: Iraq captured pilot in war or has remains

U.S. intelligence agencies say an American pilot shot down over Iraq during the Gulf War was either captured alive or his remains were recovered by the Iraqis.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher of Jacksonville, Fla., was lost when his Navy F-18 Hornet was shot down Jan. 16, 1991, in a dogfight with an Iraqi fighter jet during the first few hours of the war.

"We assess that Iraq can account for Lt. Cmdr. Speicher but that Baghdad is concealing information about his fate," said an unclassified CIA summary of a report by the intelligence community.

Washington: INS workers reassigned after hijacker foul-up

The Immigration and Naturalization Service reassigned four midlevel employees Friday in the wake of the agency issuing visa approval notices for two Sept. 11 hijackers six months after they flew airliners into the World Trade Center.

The immigration commissioner, James Ziglar, said the breakdown that led to the notices being issued "is unacceptable and will not be allowed." No one was fired.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft also asked Congress on Friday to give him back authority to fire INS employees for violating Justice Department rules.

"It is essential that I have the authority to quickly discipline or terminate individuals for acts of negligence, mismanagement or disregard for Department of Justice policies," Ashcroft said.

Washington: Bush sought to explain Ridge's refusal to testify

Two senators asked President Bush on Friday for a meeting to discuss Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge's refusal to testify before Congress.

"To those who ask Congress for quick action, we say we need answers to questions," Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said in an interview. "And the results will be faster and forthcoming if Congress can have answers to its questions from people like Mr. Ridge."

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe would not say whether Bush would meet with the senators.

Early this month, Ridge rejected an initial request from Byrd and Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, that he testify before the panel.

Washington: White House to seek more aid for Colombia

The Bush administration plans to seek the elimination of restrictions that limit U.S. military aid to Colombia to counternarcotics efforts.

If Congress goes along, the administration will be in a position to respond to Colombian requests to combat illegal insurgencies as well as drug traffickers.

Congress has limited U.S. personnel in Colombia to 400 military and 400 civilian. There are now about 250 soldiers, 50 civilian employees and 100 civilian military contractors, according to the U.S. Southern Command.

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