- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2003

Report suggests 9/11 linked to Saudis

Classified sections of Congress’ September 11 report lay out a web of connections among Saudi businessmen, royal family, charities and banks that may have aided al Qaeda or the suicide hijackers, according to people who have seen the report.

The report raises the possibility that one or more Saudi men who were connected to some of the hijackers or their acquaintances were tied to Saudi intelligence. It also suggests a Muslim imam in the United States may have been a facilitator for some hijackers, the sources told the Associated Press, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

U.S. investigators are setting out anew to determine whether the connections are innocent coincidences in an Islamic culture that urges charitable support or a pattern of terror money and patronage flowing from the wealthy kingdom that is a longtime U.S. ally, according to government officials familiar with those efforts.

The congressional investigators, however, warn that the leads they have dug up for the FBI and CIA are at times contradictory or circumstantial. U.S. intelligence and FBI investigators view the evidence of ties to Saudi intelligence as unclear, the officials said.

Episcopal leaders likely to approve gay bishop

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — U.S. Episcopalian leaders moved closer yesterday to approving the church’s first openly homosexual bishop, a step that church conservatives warned could shatter unity among the world’s 77 million Anglicans.

After a fierce public debate, Episcopal leaders attending the church’s triennial convention voted behind closed doors to recommend ratification of New Hampshire Bishop-elect Eugene Robinson, a divorced father of two. The vote count was not made public, and the debate participants were urged not to cheer after the announcement was made.

Mr. Robinson’s expected elevation to his post by the full convention tomorrow will be followed by another vote on the controversial issue about whether to approve liturgy allowing American clergy to bless same-sex unions.

Mr. Robinson attended the debate with his longtime partner, Mark Andrew.

Gephardt grabs Teamsters endorsement

The Teamsters officially endorsed Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, for president yesterday after an unanimous vote of the union’s leadership, officials said.

Union President James P. Hoffa delivered the news of the coveted, yet anticipated, labor prize to Mr. Gephardt after the morning vote of 22 vice presidents by conference call, union officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Teamsters spokesman Bret Caldwell confirmed that an endorsement decision was reached but refused to identify the candidate. A formal announcement will be made in Detroit Aug. 9, he said.

Unions had agreed to hold their endorsements until after next week’s AFL-CIO meeting in Chicago. An endorsement from the nation’s most recognizable union, the most high profile to date, will give Mr. Gephardt’s struggling presidential bid a substantial boost.

Arnold to discuss candidacy on Leno

LOS ANGELES — California’s gubernatorial recall campaign could get a touch of Hollywood glitz next week when Arnold Schwarzenegger goes on late-night TV to discuss whether he’ll run to replace Gov. Gray Davis.

The Republican will announce his decision Wednesday, then elaborate on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” Schwarzenegger campaign consultant Sean Walsh said yesterday. That would come three days before the Aug. 9 deadline for candidates to declare plans to run.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a popular moderate Republican, yesterday said he would seriously consider getting in the race if Mr. Schwarzenegger does not enter the Oct. 7 recall election. He is assembling a campaign team.

Meanwhile, another famous name emerged as a potential candidate: Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt. Mr. Flynt is one of the 200 people statewide who have filed paperwork with county registrars — the first step in the process to run on the recall ballot.

“California is the most progressive state in the union,” said Mr. Flynt, 61, a Democrat. “I don’t think anyone here will have a problem with a smut peddler as governor.”

So far, the only declared Republican candidate is Rep. Darrell Issa, who funded the recall petition drive. State Sen. Tom McClintock are also expected to run.

United Way suspends anti-gay Scout grants

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia-based United Way charity suspended funding to the nation’s third-largest Boy Scout council after the group capitulated to a national Scout ban against homosexuals, officials said yesterday.

The United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania canceled the second half of an annual $400,862 grant to the Boy Scouts’ Cradle of Liberty Council, saying the scout group did not comply with the charity’s policy of not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

The grant represents more than 6 percent of the council’s budget.

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