16 Oppose Resolution

For 9/11 Anniversary

Mention of the war in Iraq clouded a House resolution marking the third anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and 16 lawmakers voted yesterday against the otherwise noncontroversial measure.

Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.), one of 15 Democrats and one Republican to cast no votes, said linking the terrorism to the war in Iraq was "blatantly untrue" and had turned a resolution honoring the sacrifices of Sept. 11 victims into a political document.

"Why are we putting together a resolution that convolutes the issue?" asked Rep. Barbara T. Lee (D-Calif.), another no vote. The vote was 406 to 16.

The sponsor of the resolution, International Relations Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), responded to the critics, saying that "there is a direct connection between the war in Iraq and the bombing of September 11."

U.S. troops in Baghdad, added House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), are "fighting the same evil and upholding the same virtues" as the passengers aboard Flight 93 who battled the hijackers or the police and firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center. "It is one and the same conflict," he said.

The resolution's introduction noted that "since the United States was attacked" on Sept. 11, "it has led an international military coalition in the destruction of two terrorist regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Sharing Data Outweighs

Safety, Panelist Says

The value of freely sharing data on dangerous microorganisms so vaccines and treatments can be developed outweighs the danger that bioterrorists may use the information to do harm, a scientific panel concluded yesterday.

A committee convened by the National Research Council concluded that allowing scientists and the public full access to genome data on germs should continue.

"I think we all felt that ultimately, national security needs are best served by facilitating downstream work to develop new diagnostics, new detection devices, new vaccines, new antimicrobial and antiviral compounds, and we just didn't see any way to do that other than continuing with the current open access," committee member Claire M. Fraser said.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge disputed the findings. "I want to take a look at the report. But from my point of view, laying out recipes for the creation of systems or weapons of mass effect, I'm not sure the restriction on that is necessarily the infringement of free speech," he told the Associated Press.

Under current law, almost all genome data produced in federally funded research is required to be made public.

Democrat Offers Bill

On Travel to Cuba

A bill to alter the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba to permit legal travel there was reintroduced in Congress and cleared a Senate panel, but passage could again be elusive.

In recent years, both the House and the Senate have overwhelmingly approved similar proposals only to see Republican leaders strip them at the last minute from bills overshadowed by a veto threat.

Enforcement of the 40-year-old travel ban has been stepped up during the Bush administration. That action is viewed as a maneuver to further pressure the Communist government of President Fidel Castro and bolster support for Bush among some Cuban Americans in Florida, a battleground state in the November election.

-- From News Services