Bush to Implement

Intelligence Proposals

President Bush called on Congress to create a national intelligence director and announced that he would build a national counterterrorism center as part of a refocused election-year effort to fend off future attacks.

Bush's statement embraced the two most significant of the 37 recommendations by the commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but with limitations. Under his plan, the new intelligence chief would lack the authority over budgets, hiring and firing that the commission had envisioned.

The president's statement marked the beginning of an attempt to restructure the nation's intelligence machinery, which the commission said was long overdue. The creation of the director's position and the counterterrorism center are designed to allow swifter melding of domestic and foreign intelligence, and to unify the work of the government's 15 spy agencies.

Bush, whose aides had once suggested he would not undertake intelligence reform until a second term, was moving speedily in the political climate created by the presidential campaign and television appearances by commissioners and families of Sept. 11 victims.

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who issued a blanket endorsement of the commission's recommendations two days after they were delivered on July 22, called Bush's proposal tardy and inadequate.

-- Mike Allen and Walter Pincus

Kerry Has Slim Lead in

Post-Convention Poll

Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry emerged from his national convention with a small lead over President Bush in the race for the White House and improved his standing against the president on the economy and who is better qualified to serve as commander in chief, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll showed Kerry with the support of 50 percent of all registered voters, compared with 44 percent for Bush, with independent Ralph Nader at 2 percent. On the eve of the convention, Bush led Kerry 48 percent to 46 percent.

Among those most likely to vote, the race is tighter: Kerry holds a 2-percentage-point advantage over Bush in the current poll.

By historical standards, Kerry's post-convention bounce is modest, at best.

-- Richard Morin and Dan Balz

Vatican Issues Letter

Criticizing Feminism

The Vatican issued a letter attacking the "distortions" and "lethal effects" of feminism, which it defined as an effort to erase differences between men and women -- a goal, the statement said, that undermines the "natural two-parent structure" of the family and makes "homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent."

The sharp critique was contained in a document issued by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a chief adviser to Pope John Paul II and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department in charge of laying out Roman Catholic orthodoxy. The 37-page document also outlined the Vatican's own formula for relationships between men and women, calling for "active collaboration between the sexes" and rejecting subjugation of women.

The pope approved the document.

Catholic feminists in the United States said the letter presented a caricature of feminism as antagonistic toward men and trying to deny any difference between the sexes. They said feminism seeks equal rights and respect for both genders.

-- Daniel Williams

and Alan Cooperman

Financial Information Stripped

From Federal Judges' Records

Nearly 600 times in recent years, a judicial committee acting in private has stripped information from reports intended to alert the public to conflicts of interest involving federal judges.

The committee decided that the information removed might endanger a particular judge or put his or her financial investments at risk, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

In 55 instances, the committee withheld all information on the disclosure reports -- including details about outside income, gifts, business contracts, debts, stocks and the value of holdings. The study examined disclosure reports filed under the Ethics in Government Act from 1999 through 2002.

The GAO report did not identify the judges who sought deletions.

The Ethics in Government Act requires that judges, members of Congress and senior executive branch officials file annual reports detailing positions held, businesses owned, income, free trips and debts. Watchdog organizations and the media use the reports to unearth conflicts of interest.

In the case of the judiciary, studies in recent years have shown that judges improperly issued hundreds of orders in lawsuits against companies in which they owned stock. At least one judge threw out lawsuits against a medical center on whose board he sat.

Such revelations have led to requests for new trials or for judges to recuse themselves.

In 1998, Congress passed legislation allowing judges to request redactions. The redaction provision is in place through 2005, when Congress will decide whether to make it permanent. There are no similar provisions for the president or members of Congress.

-- Joe Stephens

Income Growth Stalls,

And Spending Slows

Americans' income growth effectively stalled in June, and consumer spending plunged at the steepest monthly rate since September 2001, fueling new concerns about the strength of the U.S. economic expansion.

Overall personal income was flat in June after adjusting for inflation and taxes, the Commerce Department said. Wages and salaries, the largest component of personal income, did not budge in June, even without such adjustments -- the worst showing since they dropped 0.1 percent in December.

Consumer spending dropped 0.7 percent in June, according to the Commerce report, reinforcing other signs that the U.S. economic expansion lost momentum in the spring with rising inflation, higher interest rates and a slowing pace of job creation.

-- Nell Henderson

NIH to Impose Consulting

Limits on Agency Scientists

The National Institutes of Health will soon impose new restrictions and disclosure requirements on agency scientists who wish to consult for outside companies, according to Deputy Director Raynard Kington. NIH has faced a string of embarrassing revelations about lucrative contracts and other apparent conflicts of interest.

The new oversight system, which officials expect to be in place within six months, will ban anyone with even indirect authority over NIH grants from consulting for drug or biotechnology companies. It will also place limits on stock ownership and require that more details of approved outside activities be open to the public, Kington said.

The changes come after a stinging, eight-month congressional inquiry, an investigation by the federal Office of Government Ethics, an internal agency review, an analysis by an independent expert commission and a slow but steady stream of disclosures about NIH scientists who had allegedly engaged in unethical collaborations with drug and biotech companies.

-- Rick Weiss