Rumsfeld Aide Tapped

For Southern Command

President Bush nominated Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's senior military assistant, Army Lt. Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, to be promoted to four-star rank as commander of U.S. Southern Command.

If confirmed by the Senate, Craddock would replace Gen. James T. Hill, who has been Southern Command chief since August 2002. Southern Command is in charge of all U.S. military operations in the Caribbean and South America. Its headquarters is in Miami.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, had been in line for the Southern Command post until the Abu Ghraib prison scandal erupted. Although Sanchez faces no accusations, Rumsfeld concluded that the controversy would make it difficult to get quick Senate confirmation of a Sanchez nomination.

House Backs $32 Billion

Homeland Security Bill

The House overwhelmingly backed a $32 billion bill yesterday to build up defenses against possible attacks in the United States.

The House voted 400 to 5 in favor of the bill to finance the Department of Homeland Security for 2005. It provides $896 million more than President Bush requested and is a $2.8 billion increase over 2004.

The bill provides $5.7 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, including money for federal air marshals. Of that amount, $2 billion will be used for airline passenger screening and $1.4 billion for baggage screening.

The department was set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to strengthen homeland defense.

Democrats say the bill does not include enough money to fund a range of transportation security projects. They blame Bush's tax cuts for the record budget deficit and the spending squeeze Congress faces this year.

"I am concerned that it doesn't go far enough toward troubling homeland security gaps," said Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D-Minn.).

Democrats Urge Powell

To Correct Terror Report

Senate Democratic leaders called on Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to take new steps to errors in a State Department report claiming a worldwide decline in terrorism and to order an independent probe into how the mistakes occurred.

In a letter to Powell, Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), Minority Whip Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and ranking Democrats on the Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Armed Services and Intelligence committees urged the secretary to remove the report from the department's Web site and hold a news conference to discuss corrections that are being made to it.

The Web site includes a statement that the report is "incomplete and in some cases incorrect" and that changes will be made.

The Democrats also asked Powell to initiate an investigation by the department's inspector general into "how the inaccurate statements found their way into the latest version of this report and whether the process for assembling this report and the participants involved differed significantly from previous reports."

Powell described the report's claims last weekend as a "big mistake" and said the department is trying to determine what went wrong.

-- From News Services

and Staff Reports