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Saturday, July 16, 2005

BBC SPORT | Golf | Woods battles for two-shot lead

BBC SPORT | Golf | Woods battles for two-shot lead Woods battles for two-shot lead
By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at St Andrews

Tiger Woods held off a three-pronged attack to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Open.

Woods carded 71 to edge to 12 under as Jose Maria Olazabal, Retief Goosen and Colin Montgomerie loomed into view.

Olazabal charged to 10 under with a 68 as Montgomerie, playing with Woods in the final group, made a birdie at the last to end on nine under after a 70.

Goosen (66) also climbed to nine under with Spain's Sergio Garcia and American Brad Faxon one stroke further back.

Olazabal's challenge was ignited with an eagle at the 12th to reach 10 under, while fellow Spaniard Garcia eagled the ninth to boost his quest for a first major.

But it was Woods, the nine-time major champion, who was best able to cope with fairways and greens that were firming up and becoming faster in the hot sun and freshening breeze.

"I thought if I shot under par for the day, the way the day was turning, I more than likely would have a piece of the lead," said Woods.

"No-one made a bunch of birdies coming home, so to have the lead all day and end up with the lead is pretty sweet.

"And having the experience to call on and knowing how to handle going out there and playing with the lead, hopefully I can put a quality round together on Sunday."

US Open champion Michael Campbell (68) and world number two Vijay Singh (71) were at seven under, while Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke (67), Scotland's 1985 Open winner Sandy Lyle (69) and 1995 St Andrews victor John Daly were in a logjam on six under.

The day was billed as a last-group shoot-out between world number one Woods and Montgomerie, Europe's inspirational Ryder Cup star, also desperate for a maiden major victory.

The roar that greeted home favourite Montgomerie as he strode on to the first tee was deafening, while nine-time major champion Woods, attempting to win a second Open at St Andrews in five years, teed off to polite applause.

Montgomerie, four shots adrift at the start, was cheered all the way down the first on his way to a safe opening par and he earned his first shot back on Woods when the American three-putted the second.

A huge media scrum and a massive throng of vocal supporters dogged their every move, but both held firm to birdie the par-five fifth.

Woods, though, found a gorse bush with a pushed drive on the sixth and the resultant penalty drop cost him another stroke, and a diminishing two-shot lead over the Scot.

A birdie on the seventh for Woods kept Montgomerie at bay but the former champion found more trouble on the driveable par-four ninth and settled for par as Montgomerie's perfect drive set up a birdie.

Thriving on the competition, Montgomerie played his second to five feet on the 10th and sunk his putt to the delirium of the crowd to climb into second on his own at 10 under, just one back.

But a lagged first putt on the short 11th left him too much to do for par and Woods regained his two-shot lead as Olazabal, who only made the tournament when Seve Ballesteros pulled out, also faltered up ahead.

Woods picked up another shot on 12 after virtually driving the green, and both he and Montgomerie missed makeable birdie putts on the long 14th.

The lead was quickly halved on the 16th as Woods fired his approach long and chipped back 15ft past en route to a bogey, while Olazabal birdied the last.

But the Masters champion showed his mettle with a brave par putt on the infamous 17th as Montgomerie slipped up with a Road-bunker induced bogey.

In the cauldron atmosphere of the 18th, restored to gladiator pit after the triumphant scenes of Friday, both Woods and Montgomerie displayed inner steel to make birdies and set up an intriguing final day.

"That's one less shot that I will have to find out there somewhere tomorrow," said Montgomerie after sinking his 12-footer.

Montgomerie will play with Goosen, with Olazabal and Woods in the final group.

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Jail for Nigerian bank fraudster

BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Jail for Nigerian bank fraudster Jail for Nigerian bank fraudster
A court in Nigeria has sentenced a woman to two and a half years in prison for her part in the country's biggest ever international fraud case.

Amaka Anajemba admitted helping her late husband to persuade an employee of a Brazilian bank to transfer millions of dollars into overseas accounts.

Banco Noroeste lost $242m through the latter half of the 1990s.

The court ordered Anajemba to surrender her houses in Nigeria, the US, UK and Switzerland to help repay the money.

Massive investigation

Anajemba is one of three suspects - the trial of the two other defendants has been adjourned until September.

She was convicted of convincing a senior official at Banco Noroeste, based in Sao Paulo, to siphon off the hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for a promised $13m kickback on a fictitious contract for an airport in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The prosecution case was built up after an international investigation involving the authorities of more than a dozen countries.

The fraud was discovered in 1998 when Banco Noroeste was bought by a Spanish bank.

The Brazilian bank official, the company's head of international operations, was arrested three years ago during a trip to the US and extradited to Switzerland, where he was jailed for more than a year.

Widespread corruption

Most of the funds have since been recovered.

The judgement has been greeted enthusiastically by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which described it as a landmark achievement.

The BBC's Anna Borzello in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos says that the country is notorious for its advance fee frauds.

Known as four-one-nines after the Nigerian criminal code prohibiting such practices, greedy or gullible investors are invited to hand over money or bank account details on the promise of large future payments, which never arrive.

In its most common form unsolicited e-mails offer the recipient a share of the wealth of dead African dictators.

RTE News - Barroso urges China over Taiwan

RTE News - Barroso urges China over TaiwanBarroso urges China over Taiwan
July 15, 2005 16:24

The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, has urged China to initiate a dialogue with Taiwan before Beijing hosts the Olympics in 2008.

Mr Barroso said it would enhance China's standing internationally.

In a speech in Beijing, he said the international community would welcome China starting a direct dialogue as a sign of great maturity.

He also urged the Chinese government to introduce democratic reforms, saying the sustainable growth of the world's seventh-largest economy depended on it.

'China's internal long-term sustainability also depends on its ability to introduce political reform, allowing for more democracy and civil liberties,' said Mr Barroso.

State Dept. Memo Gets Scrutiny in Leak Inquiry on C.I.A. Officer - New York Times

State Dept. Memo Gets Scrutiny in Leak Inquiry on C.I.A. Officer - New York TimesJuly 16, 2005
State Dept. Memo Gets Scrutiny in Leak Inquiry on C.I.A. Officer

This article was reported by Douglas Jehl, David Johnston and Richard W. Stevenson and was written by Mr. Stevenson.

WASHINGTON, July 15 - Prosecutors in the C.I.A. leak case have shown intense interest in a 2003 State Department memorandum that explained how a former diplomat came to be dispatched on an intelligence-gathering mission and the role of his wife, a C.I.A. officer, in the trip, people who have been officially briefed on the case said.

Investigators in the case have been trying to learn whether officials at the White House and elsewhere in the administration learned of the C.I.A. officer's identity from the memorandum. They are seeking to determine if any officials then passed the name along to journalists and if officials were truthful in testifying about whether they had read the memo, the people who have been briefed said, asking not to be named because the special prosecutor heading the investigation had requested that no one discuss the case.

The memorandum was sent to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003, when the White House was scrambling to defend itself from a blast of criticism a few days earlier from the former diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson IV, current and former government officials said.

Mr. Powell was seen walking around Air Force One during the trip with the memorandum in hand, said a person involved in the case who also requested anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about talking about the investigation.

Investigators are also trying to determine whether the gist of the information in the document, including the name of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, Mr. Wilson's wife, had been provided to the White House even earlier, said another person who has been involved in the case. Investigators have been looking at whether the State Department provided the information to the White House before July 6, 2003, when Mr. Wilson publicly criticized the way the administration used intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, the person said.

The prosecutors have shown the memorandum to witnesses at the grand jury investigating how the C.I.A. officer's name was disclosed to journalists, blowing her cover as a covert operative and possibly violating federal law, people briefed on the case said. The prosecutors appear to be investigating how widely the document circulated within the administration, and whether it might have been the original source of information for whoever provided the identity of Ms. Wilson to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist who first disclosed it in print.

On Thursday, a person who has been officially briefed on the matter said that Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser, had spoken about Ms. Wilson with Mr. Novak before Mr. Novak published a column on July 14, 2003, identifying the C.I.A. officer by her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Mr. Rove, the person said, told Mr. Novak he had heard much the same information, making him one of two sources Mr. Novak cited for his information.

But the person said Mr. Rove first heard from Mr. Novak the name of Mr. Wilson's wife and her precise role in the C.I.A.'s decision to send her husband to Africa to investigate a report, later discredited, that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire nuclear material there.

It is not clear who Mr. Novak's original source was, or whether Mr. Novak has revealed the source's identity to the grand jury.

Mr. Rove also held a conversation about Mr. Wilson's mission to Africa with Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine, on July 11, 2003, two days after he discussed the case with Mr. Novak. In an e-mail message to his bureau chief provided to the grand jury by Time Inc., Mr. Cooper said Mr. Rove had alluded to Mr. Wilson's wife as a C.I.A. employee, though, in Mr. Cooper's account, Mr. Rove did not use her name or mention her status as a covert operative.

After his conversation with Mr. Cooper, The Associated Press reported Friday, Mr. Rove sent an e-mail message to Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, saying he "didn't take the bait" when Mr. Cooper suggested that Mr. Wilson's criticisms had been damaging to the administration.

Mr. Rove told the grand jury in the case that the e-mail message was consistent with his assertion that he had not intended to divulge Ms. Wilson's identity but instead intended to rebut Mr. Wilson's criticisms of the administration's use of intelligence about Iraq, The A.P. reported, citing legal professionals familiar with Mr. Rove's testimony. Dozens of White House and administration officials have testified to the grand jury, and several officials have been called back for further questioning.

The special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has sought to determine how much Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman at the time of the leak, knew about the memorandum. Lawyers involved in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald asked questions about Mr. Fleischer's role. Mr. Fleischer was with Mr. Bush and much of the senior White House staff in Africa when Mr. Powell, who was also with them, received the memorandum. A spokeswoman for Mr. Powell said he was out of the country and could not comment on the document. Mr. Fleischer said in an e-mail message this week that he would not comment on the case.

Mr. Fitzgerald has also looked into any role that I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, may have played. Lawyers in the case have said their clients have been asked about Mr. Libby's conversations in the days after Mr. Wilson's article - in part based on Mr. Libby's hand-written notes, which he turned over to the prosecutor.

In addition, several journalists have been asked about their conversations with Mr. Libby. At least one, Tim Russert of NBC News, has suggested that prosecutors wanted to know whether he had told Mr. Libby of Ms. Wilson's identity. After Mr. Russert met with Mr. Fitzgerald, NBC said that he did not provide the information to Mr. Libby.

The existence of the State Department memorandum has been previously reported by news organizations including The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and The Daily News. But new details of how it came about and how it circulated within the administration could offer clues into who knew what and when.

The memorandum was dated June 10, 2003, nearly four weeks before Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article for The New York Times in which he recounted his mission and accused the administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq. The memorandum was written for Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs, and it referred explicitly to Valerie Wilson as Mr. Wilson's wife, according to a government official who reread the document on Friday.

When Mr. Wilson's Op-Ed article appeared on July 6, 2003, a Sunday, Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, called Carl W. Ford Jr., the assistant secretary for intelligence and research, at home, a former State Department official said. Mr. Armitage asked Mr. Ford to send a copy of the memorandum to Mr. Powell, who was preparing to leave for Africa with Mr. Bush, the former official said. Mr. Ford sent it to the White House for transmission to Mr. Powell.

It is not clear who asked for the memorandum, but in the weeks before it was written, there were several accounts in newspapers about an unnamed former diplomat's trip to Africa seeking intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program. On May 6, 2003, Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The Times, wrote of a "former U.S. ambassador to Africa" who had reported to the C.I.A. and the State Department that reports of Iraq seeking to acquire uranium in Niger were "unequivocally wrong."

The memorandum was prepared at the State Department, relying on notes by an analyst who was involved in meetings in early 2002 to discuss whether to send someone to Africa to investigate allegations that Iraq was pursuing uranium purchases. The C.I.A. was asked by Mr. Cheney's office and the State and Defense Departments to look into the reports.

According to a July 9, 2004, Senate Intelligence Committee report, the notes described a Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at C.I.A. headquarters on whether Mr. Wilson should go to Niger.

The notes, which did not identify Ms. Wilson or her husband by name, said the meeting was "apparently convened by" the wife of a former ambassador "who had the idea to dispatch" him to Niger because of his contacts in the region. Mr. Wilson had been ambassador to Gabon.

The Intelligence Committee report said the former ambassador's wife had a different account of her role, saying she introduced him and left after about three minutes.

The information in the State Department memorandum generally tracked the information Mr. Novak laid out for Mr. Rove in their conversation, according to the account of their exchange provided by the person briefed on what Mr. Rove has told investigators.

But it appears to differ in at least one way, raising questions about whether it was the original source of the material that ultimately made its way to Mr. Novak. In his July 14, 2003, column, Mr. Novak referred to Ms. Wilson as Valerie Plame. The State Department memorandum referred to her as Valerie Wilson, according to the government official who reread it on Friday.

David E. Sanger and Scott Shane contributed reporting for this article.

Japan Today - News - Rove sent email to security official about interview with Time - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Rove sent email to security official about interview with Time - Japan's Leading International News NetworkRove sent email to security official about interview with Time

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 at 16:06 JST
WASHINGTON — Newsweek has reported that Matt Cooper, in an email to his bureau chief at Time magazine, wrote that he had spoken "to Rove on double super-secret background for about two minutes before he went on vacation."

CNN also reported Friday that Rove warned Cooper that Time should not "get too far out on Wilson," a reference to former Ambassador Joe Wilson's acknowledgment of his trip to Africa, where he discovered that Niger had not, in fact, provided uranium to Iraq that might be part of a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program.

China National News > U.S. chides Chinese officer for nuclear arms threat

U.S. chides Chinese officer for nuclear arms threatU.S. chides Chinese officer for nuclear arms threat

By Joel Brinkley
New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — A Chinese general who said his country would use nuclear weapons against the United States if the American military intervened in any conflict with Taiwan drew a sharp rebuke from the Bush administration on Friday.
Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, called the remarks "highly irresponsible" — unusually strong language for McCormack, who was in Beijing with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just four days ago. He added, "We hope that these are not the views of the Chinese government."
During an official briefing for a visiting delegation of Hong Kong-based reporters on Thursday, the officer, Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, said China would "respond with nuclear weapons" if the United States attacked China because "we have no capability to fight a conventional war against the United States."
The general, who is considered a hawk, insisted that his comments reflected his personal view, not official policy.
China has long maintained that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. But in China, it is quite unusual for any official to offer strong personal opinions contrary to government policy on important subjects.
Emotions in China run hot on the subject of Taiwan. A senior Chinese official, asked why Beijing was now spending large sums to build up its military, even with no perceivable threat, did not hesitate when he said, "But we do face legitimate threats, from the secessionists in Taiwan and from terrorists."
During a news briefing, McCormack said: "The United States is not a threat to China. We have a broad and deep relationship." He added, "The secretary has talked about the fact that this is a relationship that is probably the best U.S.-China relationship we've seen in quite some time."
Robert B. Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state, is on his way to Beijing, where he will begin a regular discussion with Chinese officials on the many issues of common interest and concern. As a result of all that, McCormack said, "The remarks from that one individual are unfortunate."

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Huge crowds rally to back Arroyo

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Huge crowds rally to back Arroyo Huge crowds rally to back Arroyo
By Sarah Toms
BBC News, Manila

About 120,000 people have held a demonstration in Manila urging Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to stay in office.

President Arroyo is facing allegations of election rigging and members of her family are accused of taking pay-offs from illegal gambling.

With her presidency in peril, a large turn-out was crucial to Mrs Arroyo's chances of survival.

Three days ago 30,000 demonstrators demanded the president's resignation.

But on Saturday the president's supporters fought back with a rally of their own.

Tens of thousands of people filled Rizal Park - a stretch of green in the heart of the Philippine capital.

They waved banners that read "God bless the president and the Philipinnes" and "Let's unite for peace and progress".

On Saturday government workers and religious groups called for an end to the politicking and demanded the rule of law be maintained.

People power

Protests have been powerful tools in Philippine politics.

People power uprisings ousted two presidents - Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001.

That level of anger has not yet hit the streets in the protests against Mrs Arroyo over allegations that she manipulated the vote count in last year's presidential election.

Still, she is fighting for survival as she rebuilds her economic team and her support base after resignations and defections last week.

Her supporters needed to get out in force on Saturday to show that a large number of Filipinos still want President Arroyo to keep her job.
Story from BBC NEWS:

People's Daily Online -- Japan's move in East China Sea makes conflict "inevitable": report

People's Daily Online -- Japan's move in East China Sea makes conflict "inevitable": reportJapan's move in East China Sea makes conflict "inevitable": report
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Japan is stamping on China's maritime rights by granting Japanese firm Teikoku Oil Co the right to test drill for gas and oil in a part of the East China Sea disputed by the two countries and muddying the waters of the East China Sea, the China Daily said in an editorial Saturday.

Japan's move could lead to confrontation with China, it warned, citing that the Chinese government's calls to solve the dispute through negotiation have fallen on deaf ears in Japan.

Giving Teikoku the go-ahead to test drill is a move which makes conflict between the two nations inevitable, though what form this clash will take is hard to tell, the daily said.

It said that Japan's attempt to force gas exploration in an area beyond the Okinawa submarine trench has many motivations:

-- Japan's need for oil is not a new issue. The island country has secured several oil suppliers. Gas resources in the area near the Diaoyu islets are unlikely to quench its thirst for oil.

-- Japan's unilateral action to start drilling, which flies in the face of international maritime laws, is not simply about new sources of energy. It reveals plainly the country's intention to take China Diaoyu islets for good.

China and Japan have long been divided over the demarcation of the continental shelf of the East China Sea. China has insisted on negotiation and appealed for joint exploration but Japan drew a "median line" without consulting China.

Japan has unilaterally demarcated a controversial exclusive economic zone (EEZ) along the "median line," which sits on the Chinese side of the continental shelf, and on which China enjoys exclusive rights.

China has never accepted the line. But Teikoku's test drilling will be conducted east of the "median line," said the China Daily said.

China's oil and gas exploration in the East China Sea is being carried out in this country's indisputable coastal waters and is a matter within the scope of China's sovereignty.

The Japanese oil firm originally applied for exploration rights in the area in 1969 and again in 1970. The Japanese Government shelved the applications because of the unsettled EEZ demarcation in the waters dividing the two countries.

With the issue inconclusive, the nod from today's Japanese leaders will only serve to fan the flames of trouble.

According to the paper, given the important role energy issues play in the two countries, communication on the subject is bound to have a huge bearing on state-to-state relations.

Keeping a cool head and flexibility may be the way to shoot down disputes like this, it said.

But Japan has strayed from the path of dialogue. If a confrontation were to result, the blame would sit firmly with Japan, it said.

Source: Xinhua

China National News > China plays down nuclear 'threat'

Chinese official 'hired hitmen' China plays down nuclear 'threat'
The Chinese government has downplayed remarks by a senior general suggesting that China might use nuclear weapons if the US attacked it over Taiwan.

Major General Zhu Chenghu was only expressing "personal views", Beijing officials said.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Beijing was committed to its policy of peaceful re-unification with Taiwan.

A US state department spokesman has described Gen Zhu's remarks as "unfortunate" and "irresponsible".

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

One-China commitment

The Chinese general, who is not directly involved in China's military strategy, made his remarks to foreign reporters on Friday.

"If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition onto the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," Maj Gen Zhu told an official briefing for foreign reporters.

We firmly believe it is in the interests of both China and the United States... to oppose the 'Taiwan independence'
Chinese foreign ministry

The general said his comments were "my assessment, not the policy of the government".

He said he was confident the US and China would not go to war.

The US is currently Taiwan's biggest arms supplier and has indicated it would defend the island in the event of a Chinese invasion.

Gen Zhu's remarks come at a time when many US politicians are already concerned about China's military build-up.

State department spokesman Sean McCormack said he hoped they did not reflect Chinese official policy.

On Saturday, the Chinese foreign ministry said: "We will firmly abide by the principles of peaceful re-unification and one country two systems and we will express the deepest sincerity and exert the greatest efforts to realise peaceful reunification.

"We will never tolerate the 'Taiwan independence'," the spokesman said.

He said China appreciated the US government's repeated commitments to the one-China policy.

"We hope the United States will fulfil its commitments with concrete actions and join efforts with China to maintain the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan nationalists pick new head

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan nationalists pick new head Taiwan nationalists pick new head
Taiwan's largest opposition party, which favours closer ties with China, has elected Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou as its new leader.

He beat legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng to take over as head of the nationalist Kuomintang party (KMT).

Ma - whose family are from mainland China - is said to be reformist and incorruptible, correspondents say.

The election was the KMT's first leadership contest since the party's creation some 110 years ago.

The party, which governed Taiwan for more than half a century until 2000, is hoping that the 55-year-old mayor, who was educated at Harvard, will reinvigorate the party following two election defeats.

The KMT once ruled Taiwan with an iron fist, but it is now trying to boost its image after two presidential election losses and damaging splits, says the BBC's Caroline Gluck in Taiwan.

Both candidates ruled out independence for Taiwan and said they would continue a process begun by the current chairman, Lien Chan, who made an historic visit to China in April and worked to push for closer ties with the mainland, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory.

"My only objective of running for the KMT party chairman is to create a favourable condition to win back ruling power in 2008," Mr Ma said after his election victory.

"The KMT cannot afford to split," he said.

The Week Ahead: July 18-22, 2005 -

The Week Ahead: July 18-22, 2005 - Forbes.comWhen to watch: Tuesday, July 19. The word on the street is that there's going to be some fine-tuning 'round Palo Alto way. OK, let's forsake the euphemisms: Media reports have suggested that the world's No. 2 computer maker, Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HWP - news - people ), is due to announce a restructuring next Tuesday, and they've cited analysts as saying HP might lay off thousands of workers. Scuttlebutts are placing the number of pink slips between 15,000 and 20,000, or around 10% of the company's workforce. HP insiders have intimated that the "layoffs are imminent--it's only a question of when," one analyst was quoted as saying in The New York Times. HP, which on July 14 declined to comment on the speculation, recently signaled that job cuts were likely in the current quarter. Indeed, Chief Executive Mark V. Hurd previously said HP had a cost structure that is "off benchmark in many areas" and that the company needed to symmetrize its costs with competitors such as Dell (nasdaq: DELL - news - people ), whose costs are lower. In May, 1,900 employees in HP's printing division accepted voluntary retirement. --Chris Noon

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Image of bombers' deadly journey

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Image of bombers' deadly journey Image of bombers' deadly journey
Police have released a CCTV image of the four London bombers as they set out from Luton on their bombing mission.

They have also confirmed the names of all four men for the first time.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, Germaine Lindsay, 19, Hasib Hussain, 18, and Shahzad Tanweer, 22, were pictured in Luton at 0720 BST on Thursday 7 July.

Three bombs exploded on the London underground at 0850 BST, and one on a bus at 0947. Fifty-five people died, including the four bombers.

The picture was released in an attempt to find out more about their final movements.

Peter Clarke, head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch, said: "The investigation continues on many fronts, but we have been very grateful for the contribution made by the public in response to our previous appeals.

"However we still need to find out more about these four men and their movements, both on the morning of the bombings, and in the days and weeks beforehand."

It is thought Hussain was responsible for the bus bombing, in which 13 people died, Khan the Edgware Road blast that killed six people; Tanweer for the Aldgate blast, which killed six, and Lindsay for the Russell Square explosion where 26 people were killed.

In other developments:

* Ten addresses in West Yorkshire and one in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, have been searched. Seven of the 10 West Yorkshire searches are still ongoing.
* Police have extra time to question a man, arrested on 12 July on suspicion of the commission, instigation or preparation of acts of terrorism, and held at a central London police station
* Police have taken more than 800 witness statements and received 3,500 calls to the anti-terrorist hotline
* The wreckage of the bombed number 30 bus has been moved from Tavistock Square in central London for further forensic examination

Earlier, Tony Blair said it was time to stand up to the "evil ideology" behind the London bombings and other attacks.

He said such violence was not a response to any particular policy or injustice, but was a "fanaticism" that had to be confronted.

The prime minister told Labour party members it would be a "misunderstanding of a catastrophic order" to think extremists would act differently if the developed world changed its behaviour.

'Iraq link'

"If it is the plight of the Palestinians that drives them, why, every time it looks as if Israel and Palestine are making progress, does the same ideology perpetrate an outrage that turns hope back into despair?

"If it is Afghanistan that motivates them, why blow up innocent Afghans on their way to their first-ever election?

Germaine Lindsay (above): Jamaican-born man living in Buckinghamshire. Believed to have carried out King's Cross attack.
Mohammad Sidique Khan : Aged 30, from Beeston, Leeds, recently moved to Dewsbury, married with baby. ID found at Edgware Road blast site.
Hasib Mir Hussain : Aged 18, lived Holbeck, Leeds. Reported missing on day of bombings. Said to have turned very religious two years ago. ID found in No 30 bus.
Shehzad Tanweer : Aged 22, born Bradford, lived Beeston, Leeds. Studied religion in Pakistan. Forensic evidence linking him to Aldgate blast.

"If it is Iraq that motivates them, why is the same ideology killing Iraqis by terror in defiance of an elected Iraqi government?

"What was 11 September 2001 the reprisal for?"

But some Labour left-wingers saw a link between the Iraq war and the attacks.

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, said it was "intellectually unsustainable" to say the war in Iraq had not motivated the bombers.

"For as long as Britain remains in occupation of Iraq the terrorist recruiters will have the argument they seek to attract more susceptible young recruits. Britain must withdraw now."

Labour ex-minister Clare Short, who resigned over the Iraq war, told GMTV's Sunday programme she "had no doubt" the atrocities were linked to Iraq.

"We are implicit in the slaughter of large numbers of civilians in Iraq and supporting a Middle East policy that for the Palestinians creates this sense of double standards - that feeds anger," she said.

The families of Khan, Hussain and Lindsay have all issued statements expressing their shock and sadness at events.

"Our thoughts are with all the bereaved families and we have to live ourselves with the loss of our son in these difficult circumstances," Hussain's family said.

Khan's family said: "We are devastated our son may have been brainwashed into carrying out such an atrocity."

Tanweer's uncle said the family had been "left shattered" by news of his involvement.

Arrest 'groundless'

British police are now searching for those who may have helped the bombers carry out the attacks.

One house being searched in Leeds is linked to Egyptian biochemist Magdi Mahmoud al-Nashar, 33, who was arrested in Cairo as part of the inquiry into the bombings. He has denied any involvement.

Egypt's interior minister said press reports linking Mr al-Nashar to al-Qaeda were "groundless" and based on a hasty conclusion.

Other properties being searched are the Holbeck home of Hussain, the Dewsbury home of Khan, and the Beeston home of Tanweer. The property searched in Aylesbury was where Lindsay lived.

On Saturday police sealed off and searched a house in Tempest Road, Beeston, Leeds, not far from where Tanweer lived.

On Friday Britain's top Muslims issued a joint statement of condemnation branding the London bombings "utterly criminal, totally reprehensible, and absolutely un-Islamic".

But Britain's highest ranking Asian police officer, Tarique Ghaffur, said Muslims and their leaders must do more than condemn the bombings.

Mr Ghaffur, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, urged members of the community to inform on potential terrorists and their supporters.

The police would have to engage better with minorities - but minorities must take the first step, he said.

Police are urging anyone with information that could help their investigation to call the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Friday, July 15, 2005

Pataki Will Test '08 Winds in Iowa - New York Times

Pataki Will Test '08 Winds in Iowa - New York TimesJuly 15, 2005
Pataki Will Test '08 Winds in Iowa

WASHINGTON, July 14 - Gov. George E. Pataki of New York is headed to Iowa this weekend for what associates described on Thursday as an exploration of whether he should run for president in 2008, reflecting what they called an increased likelihood that he would forgo a bid for a fourth term next year and turn to the national stage.

Mr. Pataki's associates said he viewed the trip - as part of a visit by him to a National Governors' Association meeting, taking place in a state that begins the presidential selection process with its winter caucuses - as a test of whether a moderate Republican from New York has a real chance of winning his party's presidential nomination.

If he ran, Mr. Pataki, who supports abortion rights and gun control, would most likely be the most moderate candidate in the Republican field, and would face significant hurdles with a Republican primary electorate that has become increasingly conservative, particularly in states like Iowa.

His associates, who said they would discuss Mr. Pataki's plans only anonymously in deference to his wishes, said that should he seek the presidency, he would not run for re-election as governor, in the belief it would be impossible to run for president while still running New York State.

Mr. Pataki said in an interview that it was far too early to decide on a presidential race, and that he would make a final decision on seeking re-election around the end of September. But he made clear that he was looking forward to touring a state that has played a pivotal role in American primary politics for 30 years, and wanted to get beyond the confines of the news conferences and forums that make up a National Governors' Association meeting.

His schedule includes an appearance at a private fund-raising luncheon by the Iowa Republican Party, which is expected to raise $100,000 for the party; a visit to a Little League game; and even the Saturday morning farmer's market in Des Moines.

"We might do a country fair - I just love those," said Mr. Pataki, who grew up in Peekskill, a northern Westchester suburb. "If we're going to be out there and there's one nearby, I want to do one."

Mr. Pataki is hardly alone among governors with national ambitions who have spotted political opportunity in the meeting of the National Governors' Association in Des Moines. Amid the usual dry diet of news conferences and forums on education, energy and Medicaid, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat, is speaking to a fund-raising lunch of Iowa trial lawyers; Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican of Massachusetts, is meeting with Iowa Republican legislative leaders and appearing with Mr. Pataki at the Republican lunch; and Gov. Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat and departing chairman of the National Governors' Association, is a keynote speaker at a private Democratic Party luncheon.

Much of the conference is devoted to what has emerged as an early theme of any Warner presidential campaign, improving public high schools.

David Yepsen, an influential political columnist for The Des Moines Register, said that prospective 2008 candidates had crowded his calendar with requests for private interviews, though he declined, in responding to an e-mail question, to say which ones.

A Sunday night class trip to the Iowa State Fair - at a packed fairgrounds on the edge of Des Moines, a ritual visit in any state campaign - has become the most popular event of the weekend among the governors, party officials said.

Iowa officials said that 33 governors have now said they are attending the event, an unusually high turnout, and they had no delusions that it was anything but the state's place on the presidential nominating calendar that accounted for the popularity of this year's conference.

"I think that's why we are having such a good turnout at this meeting," said Matthew Paul, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat whose is also considering a run for the presidency. "We're happy with it.

Sally Pederson, Iowa's lieutenant governor and the State Democratic Party chairwoman, said she was pleased by the turnout both for the governor's meeting and her Democratic party luncheon.

"The fact that Iowa plays a significant role in national politics heightens people's interest - and we are glad to have them here," she said.

At this point, at least seven governors from both parties are considering runs for the presidency in 2008, reflecting the widespread view in both parties that governors - with their records as chief executives, and without the inconvenience of a detailed legislative voting record - make stronger candidates in presidential races than senators, as demonstrated by Senator John Kerry's defeat last year.

The interest of governors like Mr. Warner; Mr. Romney; Mr. Vilsack; Mr. Richardson; Ed Rendell, a Pennsylvania Democrat; and Mike Huckabee, an Arkansas Republican, is fairly well known, at least by the kind of people who go to meetings like this. However, Mr. Pataki's sudden interest - acknowledged by advisers with unusual directness in interviews on Thursday - came after months in which he has sent conflicting signals about what he intended to do, reflecting in no small part what aides said was his recognition that it would difficult for a New York governor who supports abortion rights to win the nomination in a party where social conservatives hold so much influence.

His associates, while acknowledging that this would not be easy, argued that Mr. Pataki could slip in if the Republican Party suffered in the 2006 midterm elections because it was perceived as being captive to its right wing, creating an opening for him to argue that a moderate would be the party's strongest candidate.

Mr. Pataki, asked about any problems he might have as a moderate trying to win the party's nomination, asserted that that would be less of a problem than some analysts suggest, particularly in the face of what could be a very intense presidential contest in 2008. But, he said, there was little he could do about moderate stances without which, his aides said, he would not have been elected to three terms as New York governor.

"You don't change your philosophy or tilt your beliefs to suit a particular electorate," he said.

A New York Republican close to Mr. Pataki said that the governor could benefit by visiting Iowa and defying public perceptions of him, something Mr. Pataki has often done during his climb up the New York political ladder. "I've always believed that Mr. Pataki makes a better impression on people than they expect him to make," said this Republican, who also declined to be identified publicly in deference to the governor's request. "That is why he is going to Iowa."

Mr. Pataki will arrive before it even officially begins. He plans to address a private luncheon of the Iowa Republican Party on Friday and hold a private reception for Republicans before a Little League game.

The Iowa State Republican chairman, Ray Hoffmann, said in an interview that Mr. Pataki sent him an invitation on Thursday asking him to attend the reception, and he was looking forward to seeing Mr. Pataki both at the luncheon and at the reception

"I met him once before at the national convention," and saw Mr. Pataki speak on television, Mr. Hoffman said. "He's pretty good," he said. "Are there better speakers? Yes."

Mr. Pataki said he did not think Republicans should spend time now talking about 2008. "The most important thing for '08 is for the president to be successful in a second term," he said. "It's far too early for people to advance their political agenda."

Chinese General Threatens Use of A-Bombs if U.S. Intrudes - New York Times

Chinese General Threatens Use of A-Bombs if U.S. Intrudes - New York TimesJuly 15, 2005
Chinese General Threatens Use of A-Bombs if U.S. Intrudes

BEIJING, Friday, July 15 - China should use nuclear weapons against the United States if the American military intervenes in any conflict over Taiwan, a senior Chinese military official said Thursday.

"If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," the official, Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu, said at an official briefing.

General Zhu, considered a hawk, stressed that his comments reflected his personal views and not official policy. Beijing has long insisted that it will not initiate the use of nuclear weapons in any conflict.

But in extensive comments to a visiting delegation of correspondents based in Hong Kong, General Zhu said he believed that the Chinese government was under internal pressure to change its "no first use" policy and to make clear that it would employ the most powerful weapons at its disposal to defend its claim over Taiwan.

"War logic" dictates that a weaker power needs to use maximum efforts to defeat a stronger rival, he said, speaking in fluent English. "We have no capability to fight a conventional war against the United States," General Zhu said. "We can't win this kind of war."

Whether or not the comments signal a shift in Chinese policy, they come at a sensitive time in relations between China and the United States.

The Pentagon is preparing the release of a long-delayed report on the Chinese military that some experts say will warn that China could emerge as a strategic rival to the United States. National security concerns have also been a major issue in the $18.5 billion bid by Cnooc Ltd., a major Chinese oil and gas company, to purchase the Unocal Corporation, the American energy concern.

China has had atomic bombs since 1964 and currently has a small arsenal of land- and sea-based nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States, according to most Western intelligence estimates. Some Pentagon officials have argued that China has been expanding the size and sophistication of its nuclear bombs and delivery systems, while others argue that Beijing has done little more than maintain a minimal but credible deterrent against a nuclear attack.

Beijing has said repeatedly that it would use military force to prevent Taiwan from becoming a formally independent country. President Bush has made clear that the United States would defend Taiwan.

Many military analysts have assumed that any battle over Taiwan would be localized, with both China and the United States taking care to ensure that it would not expand into a general war between the two powers.

But the comments by General Zhu suggest that at least some elements of the military are prepared to widen the conflict, perhaps to persuade the United States that it could no more successfully fight a limited war against China than it could against the former Soviet Union.

"If the Americans are determined to interfere, then we will be determined to respond," he said. "We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."

General Zhu's threat is not the first of its kind from a senior Chinese military official. In 1995, Xiong Guangkai, who is now the deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, told Chas W. Freeman, a former Pentagon official, that China would consider using nuclear weapons in a Taiwan conflict. Mr. Freeman quoted Mr. Xiong as saying that Americans should worry more about Los Angeles than Taipei.

Foreign Ministry officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about General Zhu's remarks.

General Zhu said he had recently expressed his views to former American officials, including Mr. Freeman and Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the former commander in chief of the United States Pacific Command.

David Lague of The International Herald Tribune contributed reporting for this article.

Young Students Post Solid Gains in Federal Tests - New York Times

Young Students Post Solid Gains in Federal Tests - New York Timesuly 15, 2005
Young Students Post Solid Gains in Federal Tests

WASHINGTON, July 14 - America's elementary school students made solid gains in both reading and mathematics in the first years of this decade, while middle school students made less progress and older teenagers hardly any, according to federal test results released on Thursday.

The results, considered the best measure of the nation's long-term education trends, show that 9-year-old minority students made the most gains. In particular, young black students significantly narrowed the longtime gap between their math and reading scores and those of higher-achieving white students, who also made strong gains.

Older minority teenagers, however, scored about as far behind whites as in previous decades, and scores for all groups pointed to a deepening crisis in the nation's high schools.

The math and reading test, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Long-Term Trends, has been given to a representative national sample of students ages 9, 13 and 17, every few years since the early 1970's, virtually without modification, and social scientists study it carefully.

The results were from a test given to 28,000 public and private school students in all 50 states during fall 2003 and spring 2004. It was the first time the federal Department of Education had administered the test since 1999.

Nine-year-old students, on average, earned the highest scores in three decades, in both reading and math.

In the reading test, the average score of 9-year-old black students increased 14 points on a 500-point scale, from 186 in 1999 to 200 in 2004. Reading scores of 9-year-old white students rose 5 points, to 226 in 2004 from 221 in 1999. As a result the "achievement gap" between black and white 9-year-old students narrowed to 26 points over those five years from 35. The gap was 44 points in 1971.

The test measures students' skills, but does not include a passing grade or indicate whether they are performing at grade level. Over all, the 30-year trend in reading for 9-year-old students has been one of steady, modest increases, with the sharpest gains in the last five years.

Bush administration officials credited the president's signature education law, No Child Left Behind, with raising the scores.

But groups that have criticized the law, including both national teachers unions, noted that it had only been in effect a year or so when the test was administered. They said that state efforts to increase testing, bolster teacher training and reduce class sizes, as well as an increase in early childhood and kindergarten programs should also be credited.

President Bush celebrated the results Thursday before a largely black audience in Indianapolis, arguing that the federal law's emphasis on standardized testing should be extended to the upper grades.

"I'm proud to come here to talk about the new results," Mr. Bush said. "They're from the first long-term test, by the way, since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. Over the last five years, American children have made significant gains."

"No Child Left Behind is making a difference in the elementary and middle schools, and I believe we need to expand this process to our high schools," he added.

Darvin M. Winick, the chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the test, agreed that there was "considerable good news to report."

But Mr. Winick, who was appointed by the former secretary of education Rod Paige, urged caution in attributing the gains narrowly to the federal law. Increased testing and reporting of student data and other reform efforts that got under way in many states during the Clinton administration probably also contributed, he said.

No Child Left Behind, which requires states to test students in third through eighth grades in English and math every year, and to break out scores of minority students, first took effect in fall 2002.

In math, 9-year-old blacks narrowed the 28-point gap separating them from white classmates in 1999, to 23 points in 2004.

Hispanic children also gained ground. The average reading score for 9-year-old Hispanics, for instance, rose to 205 in 2004 from 193 in 1999. In math, the average score rose 17 points, to 230 in 2004 from 213 in 1999. The math gap between 9-year-old Hispanic and white students narrowed to 18 points from 26.

"These results show that as a country we're headed in the right direction," Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said in an interview.

Regardless of race, the scores of older students were less impressive, with a few exceptions.

Thirteen-year-old students, for instance, achieved math scores that on average were the highest in the history of the test. But their reading scores were no better than in 1980.

Seventeen-year-old students performed the worst. Average reading and math scores for that group were unchanged from the early 1970's.

Those low scores appeared likely to fuel a debate about how to improve the high schools.

No Child Left Behind requires states to test teenagers in one of their high school years, and Mr. Bush has proposed expanding the testing to include Grades 9, 10 and 11.

But Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of Fairtest, an advocacy group critical of standardized testing, said that more than 20 states have already introduced new high school tests in the form of exit examinations required for graduation. Many of those states have reported sharp score increases on those exams, and the National Assessment results released on Thursday seemed to call the validity of those state scores into question, Mr. Schaeffer said.

"Stagnant results for 17-year-olds indicate that soaring exit exam passing percentages reported by many states, such as Texas and Florida, reflect test score pollution, not real learning gains," Mr. Schaeffer said.

Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who has written on raising successful African-American children, said that among the tests' more discouraging findings were those concerning homework and reading trends.

Students who took the reading test were asked how many hours they had spent on homework the previous day, and the results showed that many were spending less time. The percentage of 13-year-old students devoting less than an hour on their homework, for instance, increased to 40 percent in 2004 from 36 percent in 1984. And the percentage of 17-year-old students who said they were not assigned any homework at all rose to 26 percent in 2004 from 22 percent in 1984.

For teenage students, the results showed a direct relation between higher scores and more time spent on homework.

The group of 17-year-old students who said they "never or hardly ever" read for fun increased to 19 percent in 2004 from 16 percent in 1999.

"Clearly, you learn by reading and studying, and not enough kids are spending that time," Dr. Hrabowski said.

Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer - New York Times

Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer - New York Times The New York Times
July 15, 2005
Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer

WASHINGTON, July 14 - Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.

After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."

The previously undisclosed telephone conversation, which took place on July 8, 2003, was initiated by Mr. Novak, the person who has been briefed on the matter said.

Six days later, Mr. Novak's syndicated column reported that two senior administration officials had told him that Mr. Wilson's "wife had suggested sending him" to Africa. That column was the first instance in which Ms. Wilson was publicly identified as a C.I.A. operative.

The column provoked angry demands for an investigation into who disclosed Ms. Wilson's name to Mr. Novak. The Justice Department appointed Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a top federal prosecutor in Chicago, to lead the inquiry. Mr. Rove said in an interview with CNN last year that he did not know the C.I.A. officer's name and did not leak it.

The person who provided the information about Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak declined to be identified, citing requests by Mr. Fitzgerald that no one discuss the case. The person discussed the matter in the belief that Mr. Rove was truthful in saying that he had not disclosed Ms. Wilson's identity.

On Oct. 1, 2003, Mr. Novak wrote another column in which he described calling two officials who were his sources for the earlier column. The first source, whose identity has not been revealed, provided the outlines of the story and was described by Mr. Novak as "no partisan gunslinger." Mr. Novak wrote that when he called a second official for confirmation, the source said, "Oh, you know about it."

That second source was Mr. Rove, the person briefed on the matter said. Mr. Rove's account to investigators about what he told Mr. Novak was similar in its message although the White House adviser's recollection of the exact words was slightly different. Asked by investigators how he knew enough to leave Mr. Novak with the impression that his information was accurate, Mr. Rove said he had heard parts of the story from other journalists but had not heard Ms. Wilson's name.

Robert D. Luskin, Mr. Rove's lawyer, said Thursday, "Any pertinent information has been provided to the prosecutor." Mr. Luskin has previously said prosecutors have advised Mr. Rove that he is not a target in the case, which means he is not likely to be charged with a crime.

In a brief conversation on Thursday, Mr. Novak declined to discuss the matter. It is unclear if Mr. Novak has testified to the grand jury, and if he has whether his account is consistent with Mr. Rove's.

The conversation between Mr. Novak and Mr. Rove seemed almost certain to intensify the question about whether one of Mr. Bush's closest political advisers played a role in what appeared to be an effort to undermine Mr. Wilson's credibility after he challenged the veracity of a key point in Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, saying Saddam Hussein had sought nuclear fuel in Africa.

The conversation with Mr. Novak took place three days before Mr. Rove spoke with Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine reporter, whose e-mail message about their brief talk reignited the issue. In the message, whose contents were reported by Newsweek this week, Mr. Cooper told his bureau chief that Mr. Rove had talked about Ms. Wilson, although not by name.

After saying in 2003 that it was "ridiculous" to suggest that Mr. Rove had any role in the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's name, Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, has refused in recent days to discuss any specifics of the case. But he has suggested that President Bush continues to support Mr. Rove. On Thursday Mr. Rove was at Mr. Bush's side on a trip to Indianapolis.

As the political debate about Mr. Rove grows more heated, Mr. Fitzgerald is in what he has said are the final stages of his investigation into whether anyone at the White House violated a criminal statute that under certain circumstances makes it a crime for a government official to disclose the names of covert operatives like Ms. Wilson.

The law requires that the official knowingly identify an officer serving in a covert position. The person who has been briefed on the matter said Mr. Rove neither knew Ms. Wilson's name nor that she was a covert officer.

Mr. Fitzgerald has questioned a number of high-level administration officials. Mr. Rove has testified three times to the grand jury. I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, has also testified. So has former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. The prosecutor also interviewed Mr. Bush, in his White House office, and Mr. Cheney, but they were not under oath.

The disclosure of Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak raises a question the White House has never addressed: whether Mr. Rove ever discussed that conversation, or his exchange with Mr. Cooper, with the president. Mr. Bush has said several times that he wants all members of the White House staff to cooperate fully with Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation.

In June 2004, at Sea Island, Ga., soon after Mr. Cheney met with investigators in the case, Mr. Bush was asked at a news conference whether "you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found" to have leaked the agent's name.

"Yes," Mr. Bush said. "And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

Mr. Novak began his conversation with Mr. Rove by asking about the promotion of Frances Fragos Townsend, who had been a close aide to Janet Reno when she was attorney general, to a senior counterterrorism job at the White House, the person who was briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Novak then turned to the subject of Ms. Wilson, identifying her by name, the person said. In an Op-Ed article for The New York Times on July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson suggested that he had been sent to Niger because of Mr. Cheney's interest in the matter. But Mr. Novak told Mr. Rove he knew that Mr. Wilson had been sent at the urging of Ms. Wilson, the person who had been briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Rove's allies have said that he did not call reporters with information about the case, rebutting the theory that the White House was actively seeking to intimidate or punish Mr. Wilson by harming his wife's career. They have also emphasized that Mr. Rove appeared not to know anything about Ms. Wilson other than that she worked at the C.I.A. and was married to Mr. Wilson.

This is not the first time Mr. Rove has been linked to a leak reported by Mr. Novak. In 1992, Mr. Rove was fired from the Texas campaign to re-elect the first President Bush because of suspicions that he had leaked information to Mr. Novak about shortfalls in the Texas organization's fund-raising. Both Mr. Rove and Mr. Novak have denied that Mr. Rove had been the source.

Mr. Novak's July 14, 2003, column was published against a backdrop in which White House officials were clearly agitated by Mr. Wilson's assertion, in his Op-Ed article, that the administration had "twisted" intelligence about the threat from Iraq.

But the White House was also deeply concerned about Mr. Wilson's suggestion that he had gone to Africa to carry out a mission that originated with Mr. Cheney. At the time, Mr. Cheney's earlier statements about Iraq's banned weapons were coming under fire as it became clearer that the United States would find no stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons and that Mr. Hussein's nuclear program was not far advanced.

Mr. Novak wrote that the decision to send Mr. Wilson "was made at a routinely low level" and was based on what later turned out to be fake documents that had come to the United States through Italy.

Many aspects of Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation remain shrouded in secrecy. It is unclear who Mr. Novak's other source might be or how that source learned of Ms. Wilson's role as a C.I.A. official. By itself, the disclosure that Mr. Rove had spoken to a second journalist about Ms. Wilson may not necessarily have a bearing on his exposure to any criminal charge in the case.

But it seems certain to add substantially to the political maelstrom that has engulfed the White House this week after the reports that Mr. Rove had discussed the matter with Mr. Cooper, the Time reporter.

Mr. Cooper's e-mail message to his editors, in which he described his discussion with Mr. Rove, was among documents that were turned over by Time executives recently to comply with a subpoena from Mr. Fitzgerald. A reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller, who never wrote about the Wilson case, refused to cooperate with the investigation and was jailed last week for contempt of court. In addition to focusing new attention on Mr. Rove and whether he can survive the political fallout, it is sure to create new partisan pressure on Mr. Bush. Already, Democrats have been pressing the president either to live up to his promises to rid his administration of anyone found to have leaked the name of a covert operative or to explain why he does not believe Mr. Rove's actions subject him to dismissal.

The Rove-Novak exchange also leaves Mr. McClellan, the White House spokesman, in an increasingly awkward situation. Two years ago he repeatedly assured reporters that neither Mr. Rove nor several other administration officials were responsible for the leak.

The case has also threatened to become a distraction as Mr. Bush struggles to keep his second-term agenda on track and as he prepares for one of the most pivotal battles of his presidency, over the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.

As Democrats have been demanding that Mr. Rove resign or provide a public explanation, the political machine that Mr. Rove built to bolster Mr. Bush and advance his agenda has cranked up to defend its creator. The Republican National Committee has mounted an aggressive campaign to cast Mr. Rove as blameless and to paint the matter as a partisan dispute driven not by legality, ethics or national security concerns, but by a penchant among Democrats to resort to harsh personal attacks.

But Mr. Bush said Wednesday that he would not prejudge Mr. Rove's role, and Mr. Rove was seated conspicuously just behind the president at a cabinet meeting, an image of business as usual. On Thursday, on the trip with Mr. Bush to Indiana, Mr. Rove grinned his way through a brief encounter with reporters after getting off Air Force One.

Mr. Bush's White House has been characterized by loyalty and long tenures, but no one has been at Mr. Bush's side in his journey through politics longer than Mr. Rove, who has been his strategist, enforcer, policy guru, ambassador to social and religious conservatives and friend since they met in Washington in the early 1970's. People who know Mr. Bush said it was unlikely, if not unthinkable, that he would seek Mr. Rove's departure barring a criminal indictment.

David E. Sanger contributed reporting for this article.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Daily Kos: New Gallup poll: U.S. is less safe because of Iraq war

Daily Kos: New Gallup poll: U.S. is less safe because of Iraq warNew Gallup poll: U.S. is less safe because of Iraq war
by Plutonium Page
Tue Jul 12th, 2005 at 06:04:30 PDT

A new Gallup/USA Today/CNN poll out shows that the number of people in the U.S. who think there is a greater chance of terrorism, thanks to the Iraq war, has increased.

Military-Quality Explosives Suspected in London Blasts - New York Times

Military-Quality Explosives Suspected in London Blasts - New York TimesJuly 12, 2005
Military-Quality Explosives Suspected in London Blasts

LONDON, July 11 - British investigators believe that the 10-pound bombs used in the coordinated terrorist attacks here contained "military quality" high-grade explosives, British and European counterterrorism officials said Monday.

Investigators said they still did not know whether the explosives contained plastic materials, or were made some other way. But they said the material used in the bombs was similar to the kind manufactured for military use or made for highly technical commercial purposes, such as dynamite used for precision explosions to demolish buildings or in mining.

Because of the small size of the bombs, some investigators initially said last week that they were relatively crude.

On Monday, a senior European-based counterterrorism official with access to intelligence reports said the new information on the material indicated that the bombs were "technically advanced." The official added: "There seems to be a mastery of the method of doing explosions. This was not rudimentary. It required great organization and was well put together."

Counterterrorism and law enforcement officials interviewed for this article said they would only speak on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of the investigation. They said it was still unclear whether the attacks were carried out by local terrorists, a group from outside Britain or a combination of the two.

The quality of the explosives has led many investigators to theorize that the bombs were assembled by at least one technically savvy bomb maker, who might have come to Britain to build the devices for use by a local "sleeper cell," officials said.

"People assume you can look up a bomb-making design on the Internet and put one together without any training," said one senior counter terrorism official based in Europe. "But it's not that simple or easy."

Investigators say determining the physical origin of the explosives is crucial to helping them determine the origin of the bombs that tore apart three trains in the London Underground and the No. 30 bus in central London during the morning rush hour last Thursday. It was the worst terrorist attack in Britain since World War II.

British intelligence officials have asked their counterparts elsewhere in Europe to scour military stockpiles and commercial sites for missing explosives, three senior European-based intelligence officials said.

Senior counterterrorism officials are concerned that the cell that exploded the bombs might have a stockpile of more explosive material and could strike again, in Britain or in another European country.

"I really pity my British colleagues," a senior European intelligence official said. "It's a very difficult situation. Every hour that passes diminishes the probability to catch those people and increases the chances that this cell might try to strike again."

Britain's terrorism alert was raised immediately after the attacks to "severe specific," the second-highest level overall, and the highest that it has been since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. It has remained at that level since then, reflecting the continuing anxiety of the police and intelligence officials here that another attack may occur in London.

In the attack on commuter trains in Madrid in March 2004, the industrial dynamite used for the bombs had been stolen from a quarry in northern Spain.

A month after the attack, investigators found the terrorist cell that was responsible. But the men blew themselves up in an apartment before the police moved in. Spanish officials said the members of the cell had obtained 230 kilograms (506 pounds) of Goma 2 Eco dynamite, and had intended to build more bombs for additional attacks.

A senior Spanish official said Monday that roughly 130 kilograms (286 pounds) were used in the Madrid attacks, with about 30 in unexploded bombs. The remainder is believed to have exploded when the terrorists blew themselves up. The terrorists had obtained the dynamite from a man named José Emilio Suárez Trashorras, who was arrested shortly after the bombings.

A follow-up investigation last year determined that the police in Spain were informed in early 2003 that someone in northern Spain had been trying to sell a large quantity of explosives, but that the police had not done anything with the tip.

On Saturday, Andy Hayman, who is in charge of Scotland Yard's antiterrorism unit, announced that the four bombs set off in London each contained less than 10 pounds, or 4.5 kilograms, of explosive material. Mr. Hayman said that investigators had determined by the shape of the twisted metal that the bombs had most likely been placed on the floor of the trains, near doorways. He said it was unclear whether the bomb on the bus was on the floor or on a seat.

British investigators believe the London bombs were equipped with timers, but they have not determined if the bombs were set off by synchronized alarms on cellphones or some other timing device, officials said.

Initially, investigators contended that the bombs, outfitted with timers, had gone off at different times; they thought 26 minutes separated the first bomb to explode in the Underground from the third bomb. On Friday, some investigators said that they believed the bombs were crude devices, possibly even homemade.

But on Saturday, Scotland Yard said that a reassessment showed that the three bombs in the Underground blew up within 50 seconds, about 8:50 a.m. The synchronized explosions suggested that the plan might have been more sophisticated than investigators initially believed. Police officials also announced Saturday that the bombs were "high explosives," but they declined to elaborate.

Now, senior British and other European investigators say they are convinced that the cell responsible for the bombings had executed a well-thought-out plan. One official said the cell's attack plan was "highly sophisticated" and "meticulously planned."

Investigators said they had reached their conclusion in part because the devices were powerful enough to blow apart several coaches of the trains and rip the roof off a red double-decker bus in central London.

"The only concrete evidence is that these are not homemade," a European-based senior official said. "We don't know if they are civil industrial or military industrial explosives." Britain has one of Europe's best security systems for warehouses containing explosive materials, specialists say.

British investigators are being helped with the slow forensics work by a teams from the United States, Spain and France. But Britain has a lot of experience doing such work.

In the 1990's, the Irish Republican Army used Semtex B, a Czech-made substance that is often nearly impossible to detect. British antiterrorist police discovered that the bombing of London's Canary Wharf district used Semtex B, and it was enough for then to conclude the I.R.A. was behind the bombing.

A Spanish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied a Spanish press report that suggested that 80 pounds of bomb material was still missing from the dynamite used in the Madrid train bombings.

Don Van Natta Jr. reported from London for this article, and Elaine Sciolino from Paris. Souad Mekhennet contributed reporting from London.

At White House, a Day of Silence on Rove's Role in C.I.A. Leak - New York Times

At White House, a Day of Silence on Rove's Role in C.I.A. Leak - New York TimesJuly 12, 2005
At White House, a Day of Silence on Rove's Role in C.I.A. Leak

WASHINGTON, July 11 - Nearly two years after stating that any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer would be fired, and assuring that Karl Rove and other senior aides to President Bush had nothing to do with the disclosure, the White House refused on Monday to answer any questions about new evidence of Mr. Rove's role in the matter.

With the White House silent, Democrats rushed in, demanding that the administration provide a full account of any involvement by Mr. Rove, one of the president's closest advisers, turning up the political heat in the case and leaving some Republicans worried about the possible effects on Mr. Bush's second-term agenda.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, cited Mr. Bush's statements about firing anyone involved in the leak and said, "I trust they will follow through on this pledge."

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Mr. Rove, given his stature and the principles involved in the case, could not hide behind legal advice not to comment.

"The lesson of history for George Bush and Karl Rove is that the best way to help themselves is to bring out all the facts, on their own, quickly," Mr. Schumer said, citing the second-term scandals that have beset previous administrations.

In two contentious news briefings, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, would not directly address any of a barrage of questions about Mr. Rove's involvement, a day after new evidence suggested that Mr. Rove had discussed the C.I.A. officer with a Time magazine reporter in July 2003 without identifying her by name.

Under often hostile questioning, Mr. McClellan repeatedly declined to say whether he stood behind his previous statements that Mr. Rove had played no role in the matter, saying he could not comment while a criminal investigation was under way. He brushed aside questions about whether the president would follow through on his pledge, repeated just over a year ago, to fire anyone in his administration found to have played a role in disclosing the officer's identity. And he declined to say when Mr. Bush learned that Mr. Rove had mentioned the C.I.A. officer in his conversation with the Time reporter.

When one reporter, David Gregory of NBC News, said that it was "ridiculous" for the White House to dodge all questions about the issue and pointed out that Mr. McClellan had addressed the same issues in detail in the past, Mr. McClellan replied, "I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time."

A moment later, Terry Moran of ABC News prefaced his question by saying Mr. McClellan was "in a bad spot here" because he had spoken from the same podium on Oct. 10, 2003, after the Justice Department began its formal investigation into the leak, and specifically said that neither Mr. Rove nor two other officials - Elliot Abrams, a national security aide, and I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff - were involved.

Mr. McClellan disputed the characterization of the question but did not directly address why the White House had appeared now to have adopted a new policy of not commenting on the matter.

Mr. Rove made no public comment. A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House now says its official position is not to comment on the case while it is under investigation by a federal special prosecutor, said Mr. Rove had gone about his business as usual on Monday. The official said Mr. Rove had held his regular meetings with Mr. Bush and other top White House aides, and was deeply involved in preparations for the Supreme Court nomination and efforts to push several major pieces of legislation through Congress this month.

The officer was first publicly identified under her maiden name as Valerie Plame, "an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction," on July 14, 2003, by the syndicated columnist Robert Novak. He wrote that Ms. Plame was the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had recently written an Op-Ed article for The New York Times disputing an administration claim about Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. Mr. Novak cited "two senior administration officials" as the source of his information.

The criminal investigation into how the C.I.A. officer's name came to appear in a syndicated newspaper column two years ago continued largely out of public view. But the recent disclosure of evidence that Mr. Rove had, without naming Ms. Plame, told a Time reporter about the same time that Mr. Wilson's wife "works at the agency," thrust the case squarely back into the political arena. That reflected Mr. Rove's standing as among the most powerful men in Washington and his place in the innermost councils of the White House.

Because of the powerful role Mr. Rove plays in shaping policy and deploying Mr. Bush's political support and machinery throughout the party, few Republicans were willing to discuss his situation on the record. Asked for comment, several Republican senators said on Monday that they did not know enough or did not want to venture an opinion.

But in private, several prominent Republicans said they were concerned about the possible effects on Mr. Bush and his agenda, in part because Mr. Rove's stature makes him such a tempting target for Democrats.

"Knowing Rove, he's still having eight different policy meetings and sticking to his game plan," said one veteran Republican strategist in Washington who often works with the White House. "But this issue now is looming, and as they peel away another layer of the onion, there's a lot of consternation. Rove needs to be on his A game now, not huddled with lawyers and press people."

A senior Congressional Republican aide said most members of Congress were still waiting to learn more about Mr. Rove's involvement and to assess whether more disclosures about his role were likely.

"The only fear here is where does this go," the aide said. "We can't know."

Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's senior adviser, deputy chief of staff and political strategist, was plunged back into the center of the matter on Sunday, when Newsweek reported that an e-mail message written by a Time reporter had recounted a conversation with Mr. Rove in July 2003 in which Mr. Rove discussed the C.I.A. operative at the heart of the case without naming her.

Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, has said the e-mail message showed that Mr. Rove was not taking part in any organized effort to disclose Ms. Plame's identity. Mr. Wilson is a former diplomat who traveled to Africa on behalf of the C.I.A. before the Iraq war to investigate reports concerning Saddam Hussein's efforts to acquire nuclear material.

Mr. Wilson has suggested that the White House sought retribution by publicly identifying his wife, effectively ending her career as a covert operative.

Mr. Wilson has at times voiced suspicions that Mr. Rove played a role in identifying his wife to reporters, saying in August 2003 that he was interested in finding out "whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."

In September 2003, Mr. McClellan said flatly that Mr. Rove had not been involved in disclosing Ms. Plame's name. Asked about the issue on Sept. 29, 2003, Mr. McClellan said he had "spoken with Karl Rove," and that it was "simply not true" that Mr. Rove had a role in the disclosure of her identity. Two weeks earlier, he had called suggestions that Mr. Rove had been involved "totally ridiculous." On Oct. 10, 2003, after the Justice Department opened its investigation, Mr. McClellan told reporters that Mr. Rove, Mr. Abrams and Mr. Libby had nothing to do with the leak.

Mr. McClellan and Mr. Bush have both made clear that leaking Ms. Plame's identity would be considered a firing offense by the White House. Mr. Bush was asked about that position most recently a little over a year ago, when he was asked whether he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked the officer's name. "Yes," he replied, on June 10, 2004.

Under some circumstances, it can be against the law to disclose the identity of a covert C.I.A. operative. Mr. Luskin has said he has been told by the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, that Mr. Rove is not a target of the investigation.

Democrats, as the minority party in both the House and the Senate, have no ability to push forward with a formal Congressional investigation. But Mr. Rove is such a high-profile political target that his role is sure to draw intense scrutiny from both Democrats in Congress and liberal interest groups.

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Government Reform committee, called for hearings on what he termed "this disgraceful incident," saying that if it had happened in the Clinton administration the Republican-controlled House would certainly have summoned the deputy White House chief of staff to testify.

Mr. Rove has been caught up in the inquiry almost from the start. He was first interviewed by F.B.I. agents in 2003 during the preliminary investigation. Later, he was interviewed by prosecutors and testified three times to the grand jury.

The prosecutor is believed to have questioned Mr. Rove at the grand jury about his conversations with the Time reporter, Matthew Cooper, whose call to Mr. Rove on July 11, 2003, was noted in a White House log that was turned over to the prosecutor. Time turned Mr. Cooper's notes and e-mail over to the prosecutor last month under court order.

The 1982 law that makes it a crime to disclose the identities of covert operatives is not easy to break. It has apparently been the basis of a single prosecution, against Sharon M. Scranage, a C.I.A. clerk in Ghana who pleaded guilty in 1985 to identifying two C.I.A. agents to a boyfriend.

A prosecutor seeking to establish a violation of the law has to establish an intentional disclosure by someone with authorized access to classified information. That person must know that the disclosure identifies a covert agent "and that the United States was taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States." A covert agent is defined as someone whose identity is classified and who has served outside the United States within the last five years.

"We made it exceedingly difficult to violate," Victoria Toensing, who was chief counsel to the Senate intelligence committee when the law was enacted, said of the law.

The e-mail message from Mr. Cooper to his bureau chief describing a brief conversation with Mr. Rove, first reported in Newsweek, does not by itself establish that Mr. Rove knew Ms. Wilson's covert status or that the government was taking measures to protect her.

Based on the e-mail message, Mr. Rove's disclosures are not criminal, said Bruce S. Sanford, a Washington lawyer who helped write the law and submitted a brief on behalf of several news organizations concerning it to the appeals court hearing the case of Mr. Cooper and Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times. Ms. Miller has gone to jail rather than disclose her source.

"It is clear that Karl Rove's conversation with Matt Cooper does not fall into that category" of criminal conduct, Mr. Sanford said. "That's not 'knowing.' It doesn't even come close."

There has been some dispute, moreover, about just how secret a secret agent Ms. Wilson was.

"She had a desk job in Langley," said Ms. Toensing, who also signed the supporting brief in the appeals court, referring to the C.I.A.'s headquarters. "When you want someone in deep cover, they don't go back and forth to Langley."

Carl Hulse and David Johnston contributed reporting from Washington for this article, and Adam Liptak from New York.

Japan Today - News - 30 burned to death in Congo attack - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - 30 burned to death in Congo attack - Japan's Leading International News Network30 burned to death in Congo attack

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 07:31 JST
BUKAVU, Congo — More than 30 civilians were burned alive when an armed gang herded them into their huts in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and set them on fire, the U.N. mission said Monday.

"More than 30 civilians, mostly women, were killed and about 50 wounded" in the attack on Saturday night on Ntulumamba village, about 70 kilometers to the northwest of the border town of Bukavu in Sud-Kivu province, the spokesman for the U.N. mission MONUC Kemal Saiki said.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Shuttle set despite 'loose ends'

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Shuttle set despite 'loose ends' Shuttle set despite 'loose ends'
By Paul Rincon
BBC News science reporter, at Kennedy Space Center

Space shuttle Discovery is still on course for its launch on Wednesday, despite some unresolved issues, mission managers have said.

The US space agency officials have been holding "spirited discussions" ahead of this week's planned lift-off.

There were some loose ends, said one official, but these would probably not prevent the shuttle from flying.

This will be the first shuttle mission since the loss of Columbia and its seven astronauts in February 2003.

"We have a couple of loose ends to tie up," deputy shuttle programme manager, Wayne Hale, said.

Mr Hale said these issues related to a tanking test carried out in April, when two of four sensors that detect when the hydrogen tank is full failed to work properly; and a pressure relief valve operated more often than expected.

Mission known as STS-114
Discovery's 31st flight
17th orbiter flight to ISS
Payload: Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
Lift-off: 13 July, 1551 EDT
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Launch Pad 39B
Discovery crew: Collins, Kelly, Noguchi, Robinson, Thomas, Lawrence and Camarda

They also concern the historical record of tile damage to shuttles and to data from weather balloons flown to assess whether wind speeds are acceptable for flight.

He said they were having trouble passing data from a weather balloon test added since the Columbia accident.

"They're nothing major, but I would say we have to resolve these issues," Mr Hale said.

The Columbia accident was triggered by a suitcase-sized piece of foam insulation that broke off the external fuel tank during lift-off and damaged the vehicle's left wing.

When the crew attempted to return through the atmosphere, superheated gases entered the wing and tore the orbiter apart.

Since then, Nasa has focused on eliminating the risks to the shuttle during lift-off.

Discovery's launch is scheduled for 1551 EDT (2051 BST; 1951 GMT) on Wednesday, when the chances of weather being acceptable for launch are 70%.

If lift-off is delayed for 24 or 48 hours, this figure is forecast to drop to 60%. One concern for shuttle officials is "tropical depression number five", a weather system which could yet turn into Hurricane Emily.

However, First Lieutenant Mindy Chavez, a shuttle launch weather officer from the US Air Force, said tropical depression number five was not expected to start causing problems until Wednesday.

The mission is scheduled to last 12 days, with landing set for 1101 EDT (1601 BST; 1501 GMT) on 25 July at the Kennedy Space Center.

The mission will carry spare parts and other equipment to the International Space Station (ISS).

BBC NEWS | Americas | Democrats press Rove on CIA leak

BBC NEWS | Americas | Democrats press Rove on CIA leak Democrats press Rove on CIA leak
US Democrats have urged the White House to give a full account of senior aide Karl Rove's alleged role in disclosing the name of an undercover CIA officer.

The calls came after revelations that Mr Rove contacted journalist Matthew Cooper about the agent days before her identity was revealed in the press.

The White House has refused to comment on the affair, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

Mr Rove has previously denied being behind the disclosure.

Prosecutors are investigating how the identity of the agent, Valerie Plame, was revealed in the media in 2003.

Deliberate exposure of a covert agent is a criminal offence in the US.

The affair has led to a tense stand-off between the government and the media over the right of journalists to keep contacts confidential.

Credibility questioned

Newsweek magazine quoted Mr Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, as saying he discussed Ms Plame with Cooper in an e-mail without mentioning her name or being aware that she was working covertly.

The lessons of history for George Bush and Karl Rove is that the best way to help themselves is to bring out all the facts, on their own, quickly
Democrat Senator Charles Schumer

Correspondents say that, while it is up to prosecutors to find out whether a crime has been committed, the government's credibility is now at stake because of previous denials by Mr Rove.

Democrats said the White House should reveal all the facts of the case.

"The lessons of history for [US President] George Bush and Karl Rove is that the best way to help themselves is to bring out all the facts, on their own, quickly," said New York Senator Charles Schumer.

Senate Minority leader Harry Reid said he hoped President Bush would follow through on a pledge to sack anyone involved in leaking the agent's name.

Niger claim

But White House spokesman Scott McClellan would not say whether the pledge still stood.

Feb 2002 : Joseph Wilson looks into reports that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Niger
6 July 2003 : Mr Wilson goes public about investigation
14 July 2003 : Columnist Robert Novak writes the trip was inspired by Ms Plame - Matthew Cooper reports that he had similar information
30 September : Justice department launches probe
24 June 2004 : President Bush testifies in case
15 July : Cooper and Judith Miller ordered to testify about sources
10 August : Miller and Cooper sentenced for contempt of court
28 June 2005 : Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal
6 July : Miller jailed after appeals fail, Cooper agrees to testify

Facing hostile questioning at a news conference, he said: "No-one wants to get to the bottom of this more than the president of the United States.

"And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation."

Cooper, who writes for Time magazine, and fellow journalist Judith Miller of the New York Times, had both been ordered to testify about their sources in the leak case.

Cooper later agreed to testify after Mr Rove apparently said he could do so.

But Miller maintained her refusal - arguing that it was her duty as a journalist to protect her sources - and was jailed.

Ms Plame's husband, former US ambassador Joseph Wilson, has alleged that his wife's identity was made public in an attempt to discredit him after he challenged the government's arguments for going to war in Iraq.

Mr Wilson says he travelled to Niger to investigate a claim that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material there but found no evidence to prove it.

Mr Luskin said Mr Rove's e-mail to Cooper said that Ms Plame had authorised the trip.

Its purpose was to discourage Time magazine from publishing false allegations that Vice-President Dick Cheney was behind the trip, not to deliberately expose Ms Plame, he added.

The claim was used by President Bush as one of the reasons for invading Iraq.