Thursday, May 19, 2005

Intelligence Officials Sworn In

Former U.N. ambassador John D. Negroponte was sworn in yesterday as the first director of national intelligence at a White House ceremony. President Bush said the event marked a new era for U.S. spy agencies.

Negroponte, 65, said his career as a diplomat prepared him for the job of overseeing and coordinating the work of the 15 intelligence services, including the CIA.

"He's ensuring that our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise. And he's serving as my principal intelligence adviser," Bush told an audience that included Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, CIA Director Porter J. Goss and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

Also sworn in was Negroponte's deputy, Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden Jr., former director of the National Security Agency.

9/11 Panel to Follow Up

The commission that investigated missteps leading to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, plans to issue a report card this summer on how the government has responded to its recommendations.

In eight sessions starting June 6, commissioners will focus on what has happened since the attacks and what more needs to be done, spokesman Adam Klein said. The report card is to be released on July 25.

Though the sessions will examine "the unfinished agenda" from the recommendations, Klein said commissioners generally are pleased by the reaction to their suggestions. "There's been a historic reform of the intelligence community. Congress is making good progress," he said.

The commission, in its report issued last July, found that the United States could not protect its citizens from the terrorist attacks because it failed to appreciate the threat posed by al Qaeda.

New Policy on Space Defense

The Bush administration is preparing a shift in U.S. space policy to allow for protection of satellites from attack but is not considering putting weapons into space, the White House said.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said the policy is being developed by the Defense Department and other agencies and has not yet been sent to President Bush or his top aides. "The policy that we're talking about is not looking at weaponizing space," McClellan told reporters.

He said the new policy would update the 1996 statement by the Clinton administration. "There are treaties in place and we continue to abide by those treaties," McClellan said.

States Sue EPA on Mercury

Eleven states sued the Bush administration to block new rules allowing coal-burning utilities to trade rights to emit toxic mercury.

The core issue is whether the Environmental Protection Agency went far enough with its March regulations to protect public health. Mercury contaminates fish and water and has been linked to neurological disorders in children.

-- From News Services

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