- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

The prospect of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil will not curtail the military's plans to destroy Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, said lawmakers who yesterday approved increased intelligence spending.
"I don't think [another terrorist attack] is dependent on whether or not we retaliate," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat and ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee. "We will retaliate."
Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the "very real likelihood" of another attack by terrorists "should not in any way impact our support for the president."
"We've got to take this network out now, or the next attack [against the United States] is going to make the last one look like a Sunday school picnic," Mr. Weldon said.
The Bush administration is confident it has proof that bin Laden's terrorist organization carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.
House members unanimously approved the intelligence-authorization act for fiscal 2002, a bill so secret that its total cost is classified. Spending was increased 9 percent, 2 percent more than President Bush requested for the bill that, based on recent intelligence reports, is about $30 billion.
It increases resources for more intelligence agents and for language training for agents and analysts. It also directs the CIA to devise more flexible guidelines for recruiting foreign operatives, even those with questionable backgrounds, known as "dirty assets."
"It provides more resources and more people for human intelligence, for our eyes and ears around the world. They are the essential part of the equation," said Sherwood Boehlert, New York Republican. "There is no substitute for people."
Lawmakers who have had intelligence briefings did not describe another terrorist attack against the United States as imminent. But they said they do expect agents of bin Laden to act again.
"I'm not aware of any specific imminent threat right now," said Rep. Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Shown a newspaper report describing another terrorist attack as imminent, Mr. Goss replied, "That's a little hysterical. That is unnecessarily alarmist. I'm not sure that's responsible."
Nevertheless, authorities at the Capitol are coating all windows with a special transparent film to prevent them from shattering into deadly shards in case of an explosion. The work began Wednesday.
Intelligence assessments estimate that 70 percent of injuries from a car bomb at the Capitol would be caused by flying glass, said Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat and ranking member of the defense appropriations subcommittee.
"A car bomb is still our biggest threat," Mr. Murtha said. "I think we can count on it happening. It's going to happen. Just hope you're not in the Capitol."
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said that "no one can say" when or if another attack will occur. "What you can say is, with what the president has put in place around the country the threat is less than it was three weeks ago," Mr. DeLay said.
Under a Goss amendment to the bill, a panel of people with experience in the field with no subpoena power would focus on evaluating the nation's security readiness. The Intelligence Committee's original bill proposed using an outside commission armed with subpoena power.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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