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WASHINGTON IN BRIEF

Friday, July 29, 2005

State Dept. Says Bolton Erred

The State Department said yesterday that U.N. ambassador nominee John R. Bolton erred in telling Congress that he had not been questioned in recent years by investigators such as an inspector general or a grand jury, or in a congressional inquiry.

Bolton had been interviewed on July 18, 2003, by the State Department's inspector general about Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger, department spokesman Sean McCormack said last night. Bolton was not, however, "interviewed as part of the Fitzgerald investigation" of the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, McCormack said, referring to the probe by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Bolton, in filling out the Senate questionnaire in March, "didn't recall" the inspector general's inquiry, McCormack said, "and his form was inaccurate in this regard and he will correct the form."

McCormack read to reporters the committee's questionnaire, which asked whether a nominee "has been interviewed or asked to supply any information in connection with any administrative (including an inspector general), congressional or grand jury investigation, within the past five years, except routine congressional testimony."

Senate Panel Backs Anti-Meth Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would limit access to cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient that can be used to make the highly addictive drug methamphetamine.

The committee sent the bipartisan bill to combat methamphetamine to the full Senate. A similar measure in the House has been referred to a subcommittee for consideration.

In testimony to Congress earlier this week, Bush administration officials and law enforcement officers said methamphetamine addiction, once confined to western and mainly rural regions of the United States, has spread to the entire nation and now also is affecting urban and suburban areas.

The legislation would move cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed, NyQuil, and Tylenol Cold, behind pharmacy counters and limit the amount one person can buy to 7.5 grams a month -- the equivalent of about 250 30-milligram tablets.

Muslim Scholars Decry Terrorism

Muslim religious scholars yesterday condemned anyone who attacks civilians "through suicide bombings or any other method" as "criminals, not 'martyrs,' " adding that there "is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism."

The legal ruling, or fatwa, was issued by the 18-member Fiqh Council of North America as a way to reiterate the Muslim community's anti-terrorist position. As a fatwa, the declaration has more moral weight than statements condemning terrorism that have been issued by Islamic political organizations.

The one-page ruling was released at a news conference in Washington. Citing the Koran and other Islamic texts, it stated that Islam forbids any Muslim "to cooperate with any individual or group . . . involved in any act of terrorism or violence." It also declared that it is "the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians."

Acting Air Force Chief to Be Named

President Bush intends to designate former congressman Preston M. "Pete" Geren III (D-Tex.) as acting secretary of the Air Force, the White House said. Geren has served as a special assistant to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld since September 2001, overseeing legislative affairs and special projects.

Geren represented the 12th congressional district of Texas, which includes Fort Worth, as a Democrat in the House from 1989 to 1997, and he was a member of the Armed Services Committee.

The Air Force has had a civilian leadership vacuum since the March departure of Peter B. Teets, who was acting secretary. Teets had been filling in since James G. Roche resigned in January.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

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