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New threat?

The White House has called an urgent multiagency meeting for tomorrow to discuss a potential new al Qaeda threat on U.S. soil, ABC News reported yesterday.

Top intelligence and law-enforcement officials have been told to meet in the White House Situation Room to report on steps to minimize or counter the threat and what steps are being taken to tighten security at government buildings, ABC said, according to Reuters.

A White House spokeswoman confirmed that after the attempted attacks in Britain, the U.S. government convened meetings to discuss the situation but added that there was no credible evidence of an imminent threat.

"Counterterrorism officials regularly meet; that is not unusual. We are taking all threats seriously and working to ensure we can keep the terrorists from striking at innocent people," White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said in an e-mail.

ABC News cited senior U.S. intelligence officials as saying that new information suggests a small al Qaeda cell was on its way to the United States or may already be in the country.

Clinton's new book

A book by former President Bill Clinton, called "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World," will go on sale in September, the publisher announced yesterday.

Mr. Clinton plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to charities and nonprofit organizations, Knopf Publishing Group said.

"Giving" goes on sale Sept. 4, with a first printing of 750,000 copies, said Knopf, a division of Random House, which is part of Bertelsmann AG. Mr. Clinton, who recently hit the campaign trail on behalf of his wife, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, plans a U.S. tour to promote the book, the publisher said.

Mr. Clinton lately has spent time building up his charitable Clinton Foundation, which works to address global health, poverty, and environmental and economic concerns, Reuters reports.

"I've done my best in this book to demonstrate what I've seen firsthand through my foundation's work in Africa and around the world," Mr. Clinton said.

Looking at the charitable work of individuals and nongovernmental organizations "has proven to me that almost everyone — regardless of income, available time, age and skills — can do something useful for others and, in the process, strengthen the fabric of our shared humanity," he said.

The book will examine the life-changing aspects of giving, the role of governments, and ways ordinary people can make a difference, Knopf said.

Attacking Gonzales

Democrats raised new questions yesterday about whether Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales knew about what they called FBI abuses of civil liberties when he told a Senate committee that there had not been a single verified case of such abuse from the USA Patriot Act.

However, a Justice Department official yesterday described the violations as mistakes rather than intentional acts of abuse or misconduct.

Lying to Congress is a crime, but it wasn't clear whether Mr. Gonzales knew about the violations when he made his statements to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, or whether any of the violations rose to the level of what Democrats and the Associated Press called "civil liberties abuse."

One Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, called for a special counsel to investigate.

On April 27, 2005, while seeking renewal of the broad powers granted law enforcement under the USA Patriot Act, Mr. Gonzales told the Senate intelligence panel, "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse" from the law enacted after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Mr. Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had inadvertently obtained personal information to which they were not entitled.

Several of the reported violations were referred to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board and copied to other officials.

One was sent to Mr. Gonzales, dated April 21, 2005 — less than a week before he testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

It was not clear whether Mr. Gonzales ever saw the documents reporting the violations, and several Justice Department officials said yesterday that they could not remember discussing specific cases with him before an internal March report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine that outlined the problems.

The FBI documents released show that many of the suspected violations were the result of wrong phone numbers or of Internet service providers giving agents more information than was requested.

Shifty Senate

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt says the conventional wisdom has flipped, with his Senate counterparts now becoming more vulnerable to the changing winds of public opinion.

Asked why House Republicans were not seeing the kinds of Iraq war defections now taking place in the Senate, the Missouri Republican said, "Usually the House is less responsive to what appears to be a shift in public opinion than the Senate."

Eric Pfeiffer reports that Mr. Blunt's answer got a surprised response from reporters, who noted that the Senate traditionally has been viewed as the more thoughtful, deliberative body.

"It was counterintuitive when the Constitution was written," Mr. Blunt acknowledged. "[But now] the Senate is often the body that reacts more quickly, and I think, on occasion, overreacts, than the House."

Mr. Blunt said he thinks the roles have changed because House lawmakers tend to represent more partisan districts, while senators are forced to contend with the diverse views of an entire state.

"The House is more likely to represent a kind of homogenous, stable, kind of understood, predictable district than the senator, who is trying to respond to the interests of reactionary states," he said.

Unusual forum

The leading Democratic presidential contenders will participate in a forum on homosexual issues next month, co-sponsored by an advocacy group and a cable channel aimed at homosexuals.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina have agreed to appear in the live, one-hour forum in Los Angeles on Aug. 9. The program is the result of a joint effort by the Human Rights Campaign and the LOGO cable channel, which will broadcast the event. LOGO also will stream the forum live on its Web site, the Associated Press reports.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware declined the invitation to appear at the forum, citing scheduling conflicts. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio have not said whether they will attend.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska was not invited to participate because he did not meet a $100,000 fundraising threshold, HRC spokesman Brad Luna said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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