- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Security breach found at hospitals

Sensitive information on about 1,000 patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals was exposed in a security breach, sparking identity-theft concerns and an investigation by the Army.

Names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other information was accessed, hospital officials said Monday. The computer file that was breached did not include information such as medical records or the diagnosis or prognosis for patients, they said.

Walter Reed officials declined to explain how the information was compromised, pending an ongoing investigation by the hospital and the Army. They would only say that the computer file was found on a “nongovernment, nonsecure computer network.”

The medical center learned of the breach on May 21 from an outside data-mining company, which officials did not identify. They said the company was working for another client, found the file and contacted Walter Reed.

The hospital said it is working to notify all of the people named in the data file. Letters or e-mails were being sent out, beginning Monday.

Walter Reed plans to offer free credit-protective services to patients whose information was revealed.

The hospital also has set up a hot line for people to call to see whether their information was disclosed (877/854-8542, ext. 9).


High court rules on laundering

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal prosecutors have gone too far in their use of money-laundering charges to combat drug traffickers and organized crime.

In two decisions - one a 5-4 split, the other unanimous - the justices found that money-laundering charges apply only to profits of an illegal-gambling ring and cannot be used when the only evidence of a possible crime is when someone hides large amounts of cash in his car when heading for the border.

The government brings money-laundering cases against more than 1,300 people annually, and the justices appeared to agree with defense lawyers who said government prosecutors have been stretching the bounds of the law.


President honors fallen hero, 19

President Bush presented the nation’s highest military award Monday to a 19-year-old soldier who died saving the lives of four comrades in Iraq by jumping on a grenade tossed into their military vehicle.

The honored soldier, Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis, “gave all for his country,” the president said somberly.

“No one outside this man’s family can know the true weight of their loss. But in words spoken long ago, we are told how to measure the kind of devotion that Ross McGinnis showed on his last day: ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ ”

The president spoke in the East Room at a ceremony attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, prior recipients of the Medal of Honor, military leaders, Pfc. McGinnis’ parents, Tom and Romayne, and his two sisters, Becky and Katie. The four soldiers protected by Pfc. McGinnis’ actions were all in attendance.

Pfc. McGinnis was in the gunner’s hatch of a Humvee on Dec. 4, 2006, on a patrol in Iraq, when a grenade sailed past him and into the vehicle where the four other soldiers sat. He shouted a warning, then jumped on the grenade while it was lodged near the vehicle’s radio.

“By that split-second decision, Private McGinnis lost his own life, and he saved his comrades,” Mr. Bush said.

Pfc. McGinnis grew up in the rural town of Knox, Pa., about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.


Yucca mountain application ready

After years of delay, the Bush administration will submit a formal license application on Tuesday to build a nuclear-waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, government officials have told the Associated Press.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will have three years to review the application, although it could extend that an additional year if needed. The agency’s primary responsibility is to determine whether the design as proposed will protect public health, safety and the environment.

The Energy Department informed key members of Congress and the NRC of its plans on Monday. A truck is to deliver tens of thousands of pages of documents to the NRC offices in Rockville on Tuesday morning to back up the application, which itself covers 17 volumes.

President Bush gave the go-ahead for the Yucca waste repository, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, six years ago. It is being designed to hold 77,000 tons of waste, mostly used reactor fuel from nuclear-power plants.


Lautenberg’s age becomes an issue

NEWARK, N.J. | A Democratic congressman is making age one of the central themes in his fight to unseat Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, reminding voters that if re-elected, the New Jersey senator would be nearly 91 by the end of his next term.

In one television ad, Rep. Robert E. Andrews reached back to Mr. Lautenberg’s 1982 Senate campaign, when Mr. Lautenberg himself questioned an opponent’s age.

Mr. Andrews’ bid was one of the top races on the ballot in Tuesday’s primaries, when voters in seven states decide a host of congressional contests and ballot initiatives.

In New Jersey, Mr. Andrews disregarded the wishes of party leaders, who urged him not to challenge Mr. Lautenberg to avoid a costly, divisive primary.

Mr. Andrews, 50, who has served in the House since 1990, recalled in the ad how Mr. Lautenberg raised the age issue when campaigning against Republican Rep. Millicent Fenwick, who was 72. “It’s hard when your own words come back to haunt you, isn’t it?” the ad asks.

The winner will compete in November against one of three Republicans: state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio; Murray Sabrin, a business professor at Ramapo College; or former Rep. Dick Zimmer.


Obama leads in advertising, too

The presidential candidates have spent almost $195 million on television ads so far in this extended primary season, with the Democratic contenders shelling out the bulk of it, at about $136 million, an analysis of political advertising shows.

Democrat Sen. Barack Obama himself has outspent all the Republicans combined by more than $17 million. The Republican primary race ended in March when Sen. John McCain all but claimed his party’s nomination.

The University of Wisconsin’s Advertising Project analyzed data from the TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a firm that tracks political advertising. The study looked at more than 327,000 ads that aired during the primary season.

Mr. Obama led in ad spending over Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, $75 million to $46 million. The two have been competing in contests for almost five months. Former Sen. John Edwards, who exited the race in late January, spent more than $8 million.

The Democrats’ figures greatly surpass those from the last presidential race in 2004, when the party’s candidates spent $51 million.

“We probably had more money spent in Iowa this year than was spent in the entire Democratic primary in 2004,” said Ken Goldstein, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Mr. Goldstein directed the project.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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