Panel Votes to Expand
Daylight Saving Time
A joint Senate-House committee working out the details of a broad energy bill voted yesterday to expand U.S. daylight saving time by two months to help reduce energy consumption.
Negotiators from both chambers are racing to put a final energy package on President Bush's desk by a self-imposed deadline of Aug. 1.
Among the conflicts to be resolved is the cost of energy-production tax breaks, which totaled $8 billion in the House bill and $16 billion in the Senate bill, and legal protection for oil refiners that manufactured a fuel additive suspected of being a carcinogen.
Yesterday, House and Senate conferees agreed to move the start of daylight saving time to the first Sunday in March. The end of daylight saving time would be delayed until the last Sunday in November.
Supporters say that extending daylight saving time would save about 100,000 barrels of oil a day because offices and stores would be open while it was still light outside and would use less energy.
Amtrak Funding Hinges
On Reforms at Railroad
A Senate panel approved $1.4 billion for Amtrak for 2006, a 17 percent increase over the current year. President Bush may veto the funding if the passenger railroad does not implement reforms, the panel's chairman said.
The funding approved by the Appropriations Committee's transportation panel is $200 million more than the $1.2 billion that passed in the House last month.
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta would recommend that Bush veto the legislation unless it includes "major reform" in how Amtrak operates, said Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), who chairs the panel, citing communication he said he had with Mineta.
No Intentional Wrongdoing
By Soldiers in Lindh Case
Army investigators concluded that soldiers who photographed American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh in captivity in Afghanistan with an obscenity written on his blindfold were guilty of "barracks humor" but not intentional wrongdoing, according to documents released yesterday.
The investigators also found no evidence to support allegations that members of the 5th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., intentionally destroyed evidence or impeded a Justice Department investigation of the wartime treatment of Lindh, who denies having fought against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Lindh, a California native now in his early twenties, was captured in Mazar-e Sharif on Dec. 2, 2001, and held there initially by 5th Special Forces soldiers. He later pleaded guilty in U.S. civilian court to supplying services to the Taliban government and carrying explosives for them. He received a 20-year prison sentence in 2002.
Former CIA Officers Urge
Firings Over Plame Leak
A group of 11 former CIA analysts and case officers delivered an open letter to Congress yesterday urging President Bush to fire anyone involved in revealing CIA operative Valerie Plame' s identity rather than waiting for proof that doing so constituted a federal crime.
The former CIA employees, led by a friend and colleague of Plame's, described recent attacks on Plame as a failure to respect her service to the nation. Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has been investigating whether senior government officials broke the law by leaking Plame's identity to the media.
The retired CIA employees wrote that Fitzgerald may not be able to prove that senior government officials violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act but urged Bush to fire those involved in discussing her with the media to send a message that he will not tolerate endangering agents.
The letter does not suggest firing anyone specifically. Karl Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, talked with reporters about Plame in 2003 but did not name her, according to sources familiar with their accounts.
-- Compiled from reports by news services and staff writer Carol D. Leonnig