Christian Right Groups Protest FBI's Warning on Extremists

With no sign yet of domestic millennial terrorism, a coalition of conservative Christian groups yesterday called for Congress to investigate what it considers the FBI's overblown pre-New Year's warnings about the threat of Christian extremists.

Echoing a complaint frequently made by Arab Americans, 32 religious right groups claim an October report by the FBI's domestic terrorism unit paints millennial Christians--which includes most evangelicals--as dangerous.

The coalition first raised concerns in a November letter to House Republican leaders, after contents of "Project Megiddo" were revealed.

FBI spokesman John Collingwood yesterday defended Project Megiddo, saying it was not intended to target any individual or group or "besmirch" anyone's reputation. He said it was designed to alert the law enforcement community to potential threats linked to the millennium.

U.S., China Militaries Reconnect

The United States and China will resume high-level military contacts later this month, the Pentagon said, marking one of the final steps toward a resumption of formal contacts broken after the U.S. bombing of Beijing's embassy in Yugoslavia last May.

While the planned visit of Chinese army Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai to Washington on Jan. 24-26 is likely to yield few substantive results, it is viewed as a sign that the effects of one of the most disruptive Sino-American incidents in recent years are fading.

In an attempt to relaunch the dialogue, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Kurt Campbell traveled to China last month. That visit followed a conciliatory gesture by Beijing, which permitted the U.S. Navy destroyer O'Brien to stop in Hong Kong.

Cyber Tactics to Join Arsenal

The Pentagon plans to make cyber blitzes on a foe's computer networks a standard war tactic, the incoming second-ranking U.S. military officer said.

After policy and legal issues are sorted out, cyber tactics should take their place in every commander's arsenal alongside bombs, cruise missiles and attack helicopters, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers told a Pentagon briefing.

"I think it's just going to be one more arrow in the quiver," said Myers, who takes over as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on March 1.

Hastert's Endorsement Assailed

Retiring Rep. Thomas W. Ewing (R-Ill.) sharply criticized House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), a close friend, for endorsing a state representative over Ewing's son Sam in an Illinois Republican congressional primary.

"It sends kind of cold chills down the backs of other members," Ewing said. "If he'll do it to a friend, what will he do to someone else? I think he has confused his responsibility to his party with his desire to keep himself in office."

Hastert announced his support for Republican state Rep. Bill Brady Tuesday; three other Republicans also are running.

Hastert's spokesman, John Feehery, said the speaker was convinced that Ewing's retirement left the seat vulnerable to a Democratic takeover. "It's certainly not a given" that Republicans will keep the seat, Feehery said. "With our slim majority, there really is no margin for error."