National briefs 9/14/04

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Bush wants to shift $3.5 billion to Iraqi security

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration wants to spend more Iraqi reconstruction money than planned to bolster security, speed economic recovery and forgive some of that country's debt, according to documents it sent to Congress on Monday. Overall, the administration wants permission to shift $3.46 billion of the $18.4 billion that Congress provided last fall to rebuild Iraq. Because of constraints lawmakers imposed when the funds were approved, the White House could shift only $800 million of the funds without Congress' approval, the documents said. The biggest shifts the administration is proposing would take nearly $2 billion from the $4.2 billion originally provided for water projects, and $1.1 billion from the $5.5 billion approved for the country's electric system.

Study: Racial profiling a growing U.S. problem

WASHINGTON -- Authorities' targeting of people because of their racial background or religious affiliation is a deep-rooted problem in the United States, with nearly 32 million people reporting they've been racially profiled, a human rights group said Monday. The report by Amnesty International USA also said at least 87 million people -- one in three -- are at high risk of being victimized because they belong to a racial, ethnic or religious group whose members are commonly targeted by police for unlawful stops and searches. Racial profiling is a growing problem as the government has expanded its war on terror, the report said. Citizens and visitors of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, and others who appear to be from these areas or members of the Muslim and Sikh faiths, have become more frequent subjects of racial profiling over the last three years, the study said.

Bush expected to ask for $3.1 billion in hurricane aid

WASHINGTON -- The White House has decided to increase its newest request for hurricane aid to about $3.1 billion, and was expected to ask Congress for the money today, Bush administration and congressional aides said. President Bush had been expected to submit a $2.5 billion request Monday covering some of the damage that Hurricanes Charley and Frances inflicted on Florida. But administration officials decided to add additional funds for the flooding and other damage that Charley and Tropical Storm Gaston caused in southeastern states like Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, said one congressional aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The election-year request was a politically sensitive one because of its effect on Florida, once again a potentially pivotal state in this November's elections.

Court: Death penalty possible for Moussaoui

WASHINGTON -- An appeals court ruled Monday for a second time that the government can seek to execute Zacarias Moussaoui, the only U.S. defendant charged with a role in the al-Qaida conspiracy that led to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The court also said Moussaoui must be given access to statements from three al-Qaida witnesses who made statements that may help his defense. The opinion appeared to give Moussaoui's attorneys their first opportunity to submit questions to the al-Qaida leaders, two of whom planned the Sept. 11 attacks. However, an explanation of the defense's new authority was blacked out by the judges because of national security concerns. Moussaoui, the only U.S. defendant charged with crimes related to the Sept. 11 attacks, contends he had no role in planning the hijackings. The three high al-Qaida officials in custody could reinforce that claim.

-- From wire reports

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