Counterintelligence Briefings Resume
After a hiatus of more than a year, FBI officials are giving regular briefings on pending counterintelligence cases to top staff members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Edward Curran, chief of counterintelligence for the Energy Department, had publicly chided the committee's staff for canceling the quarterly briefings. Curran suggested last month on ABC's "This Week" that the committee chairman, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), may have been hypocritical in criticizing the Clinton administration for failing to pay sufficient attention to counterintelligence, particularly allegations of Chinese espionage.
Shelby and the intelligence committee's vice chairman, Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), criticized Curran last week for making remarks they said were inappropriate and inaccurate. But a senior Senate aide and other intelligence sources confirmed that the senators' staff directors had canceled the quarterly briefings after the FBI declined to provide written summaries.
Parties Keep Seeking Social Security Deal
With fresh encouragement from Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Republicans and Democrats on a key House committee agreed yesterday with Clinton administration officials to continue searching for a compromise Social Security rescue plan.
After huddling briefly behind closed doors with 25 members of the Ways and Means Committee, Hastert emerged to tell reporters that the bipartisan session was a signal that Social Security reform is still possible.
"I've encouraged them to keep at it," said Hastert. "Starting to work on a bipartisan basis is very important."
Although no decisions were made, the fact that Republicans and Democrats were privately talking compromise together -- even inviting Social Security Commissioner Kenneth Apfel to participate -- was unusual on such a politically charged issue.
Rep. Bill Archer (R-Tex.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said both sides did agree to "expend every effort" at achieving reform for the retirement program, which faces insolvency by 2034 as the big baby boom generation grows older.
Panel Approves Funds For War-Torn Region
Kosovo and neighboring regions that harbored ethnic Albanian refugees, or were otherwise affected by the fighting in Yugoslavia, would get $535 million next year under a foreign aid spending bill approved yesterday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Still, the fate of the $12.7 billion overall bill is in doubt because the White House has threatened to veto it. The measure, approved 28 to 0 by the committee, provides $1.9 billion less than President Clinton wants but $142 million more than he requested for the Balkans.
The measure provides no money for Serbia, and moreover would declare the dominant Yugoslav province a terrorist state, said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), chairman of the subcommittee that oversees foreign aid. That would make the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic ineligible for future U.S. aid.
The bill also would condition aid to Russia on that country not demanding a zone of control in Kosovo, and on Russian troops there coming under NATO command, McConnell said. Kosovo is being occupied by soldiers from NATO countries, but about 200 Russian troops also have moved into the province.