Intelligence Panel

Weighs Leak Bill

The House Intelligence Committee will consider crafting legislation to help the Justice Department prosecute people who leak classified information, the panel's Republican chairman said yesterday.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), who heads the committee, told an audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation that deliberate leaks of classified information have "probably done more damage to the intelligence community" than espionage. He said he wants to create a culture where "zero tolerance" is the norm.

"It's time there is a comprehensive law that will make it easier for the government to prosecute wrongdoers and increase the penalties, which hopefully will act as a deterrent for people thinking about sharing information," he added.

Hoekstra's comments came as Democrats called for congressional investigations into the headline-grabbing leak of a CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity before the Iraq war. Hoekstra said he plans to hold hearings this year with the CIA, Justice Department and Defense Department on ways to prevent leaks and said he is considering inviting journalists to testify.

Senators Press for

Rules on Detainees

Senate Republicans pushed ahead with legislation that would set rules for the treatment and interrogation of terrorism suspects in U.S. custody, despite a White House veto threat.

The Bush administration, led by Vice President Cheney, is working to kill the amendments that GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) want to add to a bill setting Defense Department policy for next year.

Bush to Hold Summit

On Corporate Giving

President Bush said he will hold a White House summit next spring to encourage corporations and foundations to give more money to churches and religious charities.

Bush announced the summit as he met behind closed doors with 17 leaders of black churches and community groups -- a traditionally Democratic demographic that Republicans have been trying to persuade to switch alliances.

Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said his staff checked the policies of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies and found that 17 percent of their foundations had written policies banning or restricting donations to religious organizations.

Ambassadors Tapped

For EU, Israel Posts

President Bush chose two men for ambassadorial appointments: C. Boyden Gray for the European Union and Richard H. Jones for Israel.

Jones is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's senior adviser on Iraq. He had been second-in-command at the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. civilian entity that ran Iraq after the American-led invasion in 2003. Jones, a career diplomat with long experience in the region, has also been the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.

Gray was White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush and a Supreme Court clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren. Gray founded the Committee for Justice, an influential conservative group formed to counter organizations on the left in the battle over Supreme Court nominees.

-- From News Services