- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2001

Indictments imminent in Saudi bomb case

Federal prosecutors are close to indicting several people in the 1996 bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen in Saudi Arabia, law enforcement officials said yesterday.

A news conference on the indictments could come as early as today, the officials told the Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. airmen died when a truck bomb exploded outside the Khobar Towers, their military housing complex near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

FBI Director Louis J. Freeh gave the Bush administration a report that said any indictments are likely to name Iranian government officials, according to published reports.

But yesterday, ABC News reported that 12 indictments would be made public today naming Saudi militants and a Lebanese chemist, but no Iranians.

Committee moves to protect flag

The House Judiciary Committee approved by a 15-11 vote yesterday a proposed constitutional amendment giving Congress the authority to prohibit desecrating the U.S. flag.

The measure was introduced by Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, California Republican, and has 245 House co-sponsors. Similar legislation has been approved by the House in recent years but has not been approved by the full Congress.

Letter pushes Bush to back tissue work

The Bush administration is being pressed by some usually pro-life Republicans to support research that uses stem cells from human embryos.

"I have rarely, if ever, observed such genuine excitement for the prospects of future progress than is presented by embryonic stem cell research," Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah wrote in a letter to President Bush.

He added that such other pro-life Republicans as Sens. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, and former Sen. Connie Mack of Florida believe Mr. Bush should "lead the way for this vital research."

The administration had no immediate comment.

3 firefighters´ deaths linked to gas

NEW YORK — Investigators of a blaze that killed three firefighters have found evidence that it began when two teen-agers accidentally knocked over a can of gasoline, a fire department spokesman said yesterday.

The investigation into the Father´s Day blast at a Queens hardware store is not complete and the exact cause of the fire is not official, department spokesman Frank Gribbon said. But he said the evidence points to the fire being started by the gasoline.

AMA´s new president embraces gun control

CHICAGO — The new president of the American Medical Association is making gun safety his platform, prompting concern that the usually cautious doctors´ group is straying too far into social activism.

"There is an epidemic, and it´s an American epidemic of handgun violence," Dr. Richard Corlin said yesterday at the AMA´s annual meeting in advance of his inauguration speech focusing on the issue.

To fight the problem, Dr. Corlin said, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "must have the budget and the authority to gather the detailed data we need."

House schedules hearing on Vieques decision

The House Armed Services Committee yesterday scheduled a hearing for next week on the Navy´s decision to end its bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques in May 2003.

Rep. Bob Stump, the Arizona Republican who chairs the panel, said the June 27 hearing will include Defense Department witnesses who will testify on the implications of closing the training facility, possible alternatives to the site and the process followed by the Navy in reaching the decision.

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