Saturday, September 9, 2006

Chertoff Urges Better Security At Ports, Chemical Plants

The nation's homeland security chief urged Congress yesterday to approve plans to better protect seaports and chemical plants from terrorists -- or risk another attack on the scale of those on Sept. 11, 2001.

In a speech at Georgetown University, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also outlined public protections the government has taken since the 2001 attacks and rebuked critics who have resisted stepped-up safeguards that might be costly or inconvenient.

The Senate is considering port security legislation, and lawmakers are pushing to win full congressional approval for it by the end of the month. But proposals to let Chertoff's department regulate the chemical industry are stalled.

Rumsfeld Forbade Planning For Postwar Iraq, General Says

Long before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forbade military strategists to develop plans for securing a postwar Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said.

Brig. Gen. Mark E. Scheid told the Newport News Daily Press in an interview published yesterday that Rumsfeld had said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a postwar plan.

Scheid was a colonel with the U.S. Central Command, the unit that oversees military operations in the Middle East, in late 2001 when Rumsfeld "told us to get ready for Iraq."

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us . . . that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4" -- plans that covered post-invasion operations such as security, stability and reconstruction, said Scheid, who is retiring in about three weeks, but "I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that."

General Warns of Rising Costs If Production of New Jet Slows

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, funded by the United States and eight other countries, initially could cost another $12 million to $16 million apiece if production is curtailed in early years, the project's top general, Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles R. Davis, said yesterday.

The Senate voted to delay by one year, until fiscal 2007, spending $1.4 billion for the first five F-35s. The House of Representatives voted to fund four of the five. A conference committee is working out differences in the bills.

-- From News Services

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