No. 2 Leader for Al Qaeda
Warns of 'More Destruction'
Ayman Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second-in-command, said in a video statement that the London transit bombings were retribution for British military intervention in Muslim countries and warned of "more destruction" if Britain does not withdraw. He also threatened new attacks on Americans.
Prime Minister Tony Blair "has brought you destruction in central London and, God willing, will bring more destruction," Zawahiri said, addressing the "English people" in a statement broadcast on the al-Jazeera satellite television channel.
"Our message to you is crystal clear: Your salvation will only come in your withdrawal from our land, in stopping the robbing of our oil and resources, and in stopping your support for the corrupt and corrupting leaders."
Blair had no comment. He has previously rejected claims that the transit bombings were a result of Britain's role in the Iraq war, and politicians across the spectrum have stood by him.
Zawahiri's statement accused U.S. leaders of concealing from Americans that "there is no exit from Iraq except in immediate withdrawal." He called the casualties of Sept. 11, 2001, "merely the losses from the initial clashes."
President Bush said that the comments "make it clear Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war."
-- Kevin Sullivan
To Accept Detainees
The Bush administration is negotiating the transfer of nearly 70 percent of the detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to three countries as part of a plan, officials said, to share the burden of keeping suspected terrorists behind bars.
U.S. officials announced that they have reached an agreement with the government of Afghanistan to transfer most of its nationals to Kabul's "exclusive" control and custody. There are 110 Afghan detainees in Guantanamo Bay and 350 more at the Bagram airfield near Kabul. Their transfers could begin within the next six months.
Pierre-Richard Prosper, ambassador at large for war crimes, who led a U.S. delegation to the Middle East this week, said similar agreements are being pursued with Saudi Arabia and Yemen, whose nationals make up a significant percentage of the 510 detainees at Guantanamo.
The decision to move more than 20 percent of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Afghanistan and to largely clear out the detention center at Bagram is part of a broader plan to significantly reduce the population of "enemy combatants" in U.S. custody. Senior U.S. officials said Thursday's agreement was the first major step toward whittling down the Guantanamo Bay population to a core group of people the United States expects to hold indefinitely.
-- Josh White
Two Charged for Allegedly
Sharing Secret Information
Two former employees of an influential pro-Israel lobbying group were indicted on charges that they illegally received and passed on classified information to foreign officials and reporters over a period of five years.
Although no foreign government is named in the indictment, U.S. government sources have identified Israel as the country at the center of the probe. The Israeli Embassy in Washington also confirmed that it has been "approached" by investigators in the case.
The indictment represents the first formal allegations of criminal wrongdoing against the former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is widely recognized as one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in Washington.
The indictment also recasts the government's allegations against Lawrence A. Franklin, a Defense Department analyst who had already been charged with disclosing secret information about possible attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and other topics. One of six original counts was dropped against Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va.
Former AIPAC director of foreign policy issues Steven J. Rosen, 63, of Silver Spring was indicted on two counts related to unlawful disclosure of "national defense information" obtained from Franklin and unidentified government officials since 1999 on topics including Iran, Saudi Arabia and al Qaeda. Former AIPAC analyst Keith Weissman, 53, of Bethesda, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to illegally communicate classified information.
-- Dan Eggen and Jamie Stockwell
During Recess, Bush Appoints
Bolton as U.N. Ambassador
President Bush installed John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, employing the presidential power to make temporary appointments to break through a wall of Democratic opposition to Bolton's confrontational brand of conservatism.
Frustrated by the refusal of Senate Democrats to permit a final vote on Bolton's nomination, Bush said he resorted to the 17-month recess appointment to circumvent "partisan delaying tactics" in Washington and to send a resounding message that the White House is serious about restructuring the United Nations.
The move, ending a grinding five-month battle, drew sharp protests from Democrats and a mixed response from the foreign diplomats Bolton will be working with at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), echoing the concerns of fellow Democrats, said Bush abused a presidential power intended for narrow circumstances in order to dispatch "a seriously flawed and weakened candidate" to the United Nations.
Although ambassadors confirmed by the Senate serve as long as the president pleases, Bolton's term, by law, expires when the current Congress concludes on Jan. 3, 2007.
The Bush administration, citing the large number of recess appointments made by past presidents, said there is was nothing extraordinary about the Bolton appointment. Bolton sought to make up for lost time, flying to New York shortly after the announcement and holding a late-afternoon staff meeting at the United Nations. Bolton succeeds former senator John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), who left the post in January.
-- Jim VandeHei and Colum Lynch
Remember Me? The Name's
Bond, 30-Year Treasury Bond
The Bush administration resurrected the 30-year Treasury bond after a four-year absence, giving the government a new tool to finance the expanding federal debt.
Treasury officials said the decision to revive the "long bond" was driven by technical issues of debt management, not the federal deficit. The short-term deficit picture has brightened in recent months because of an unexpected surge in tax revenue.
But most bond-market analysts said the Treasury Department's move acknowledged the obvious: With the baby-boom generation nearing retirement, the long-term deficit picture remains bleak, and the government needs new ways to borrow.
The Treasury announced in October 2001 that -- after four years of rising budget surpluses -- it would suspend issuing 30-year bonds. With the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks still fresh, the government's fiscal condition had already turned downward, but government forecasters expected that any dip into deficit would be short-lived. In January 2002, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office was still forecasting that the deficit would top out that year at $21 billion and that the 10-year surplus would total $1.6 trillion.
But forecast surpluses turned into yawning deficits, which crested last year at $412 billion.
-- Jonathan Weisman