Nation briefs 10/19/06
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Key witness in House page scandal to testify
WASHINGTON -- A former House clerk faces investigators today in possibly the most important testimony yet on how GOP leaders dealt with allegations about ex-Rep. Mark Foley's behavior toward pages. That includes their secret handling last fall of a complaint to a congressman who testified Wednesday. The questioning of the former clerk, Jeff Trandahl, is coming after Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., spent three hours with ethics investigators. He sought to explain how his office dealt with the complaint from a former page about too-friendly e-mails from Foley. Trandahl's testimony is critical in determining how many people knew about Foley's behavior with pages and whether there are even more incidents than those reported so far.
Marines to send reserves to Iraq for second tours
WASHINGTON -- The Marines are drawing up plans to send back to Iraq at least some reserve combat battalions that have already served one tour there, officials said Wednesday -- the first time such units would be returned to the war. The plan to remobilize those reserve forces is designed to relieve some of the growing strain on active-duty Marines. A Marine Corps spokesman, Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gave the Marines the go-ahead to conduct detailed planning on how the battalion reactivations would be done. Initially, Fazekas said Rumsfeld had approved the plan itself. Later he said the approval was for detailed planning. Eric Ruff, a spokesman for Rumsfeld, said Wednesday evening that no specific proposals have been presented to Rumsfeld. "The Marines are reviewing a range of options and concepts for future consideration by the secretary and, to date, nothing has been approved," Ruff said. The Army, which is organized differently than the Marine Corps, has not sent any of its National Guard combat brigades back to Iraq for a second tour, although it is considering making more use of the Guard.
2 Palestinians killed as Israel pushes into Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- For the first time since its pullout from Gaza a year ago, Israeli tanks and infantry took up positions on the Egypt-Gaza border Wednesday, killing two Palestinian gunmen as the army broadened its search for arms smuggling tunnels. Palestinian security officials said Israeli troops and tanks moved into the border town of Rafah before dawn Wednesday and took over a section of the frontier, including the area around the Rafah border terminal. The army said Israeli forces were pressing an operation aimed at uncovering tunnels used by Palestinian militants to smuggle weapons from Egypt.
-- From wire reports