$5 billion allocated to boost security

Bush earmarks money for stronger defense, air marshals, rewards

Nation remains wary

Terrorism Strikes America

The Nation

September 22, 2001|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - With many Americans on edge over the nation's security, President Bush allocated $5 billion yesterday to boost defense spending, put air marshals on more commercial flights and reward those who supply information about terrorists.

The money comes from a $40 billion emergency package Congress approved last week to combat terrorism and to help pay for the recovery from last week's attacks.

Half the money Bush released yesterday would go to the Defense Department to improve intelligence and repair the damaged Pentagon. The rest would be used to reinforce federal buildings against the effects of explosions, to help in the removal of debris from the World Trade Center and to aid victims and their families.

The nation enters the weekend in a state of wariness. After last week's attacks, investigators uncovered evidence that generated some concern about possible new terrorist assaults today. Authorities said at least four people targeted by the investigation had been booked on flights today, leaving San Antonio for California or Denver.

A spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston said agents had investigated and discredited threats made to that city.

Several major Hollywood studios have canceled tours and increased patrols after an FBI warning that television and movie facilities might be targets.

Fifty-one percent of Americans are at least somewhat worried that they or someone in their family will become a victim of a terrorist attack, according to the most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Sept. 14-15. Just 24 percent of Americans expressed that fear in a poll taken in April 2000.

As part of a broad U.S. effort to combat terror, the Senate agreed yesterday to restore $1.3 billion to the budget for missile defense, giving President Bush his full $8.3 billion request while giving him the option to use the money instead for anti-terrorism efforts.

The amendment to the $343 billion defense authorization bill for the new fiscal year would restore money that Democrats on the Armed Services Committee diverted to other defense needs.

Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and the panel's top Republican, Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, urged support of the $343 billion measure in light of the terrorist assaults.

"Our fury at those who attack innocents is matched by our determination to protect our citizens from more terror and by our resolve to track down, root out and relentlessly pursue the terrorists and those who would shelter or harbor them," Levin said.

The president made no public comments yesterday after receiving high marks from lawmakers in both parties, and from many Americans, for delivering a speech Thursday night that was balanced between stern and compassionate.

Bush left yesterday afternoon for Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, where he will spend the weekend. The president, who has spent the past week bracing the nation for a sustained war, received an emotional sendoff.

Hundreds of White House aides and staff crowded onto the South Lawn, cheering wildly and waving tiny American flags. Bush flashed a thumbs-up as he boarded the Marine One helicopter.

Administration officials said Bush would be mostly out of the public eye this weekend, except for his weekly radio address this morning and a ceremony tomorrow in which he will return an American flag to the top of its pole at Camp David. Bush had ordered American flags at government buildings and military installations to remain at half-staff until tomorrow.

The president's demand in his speech that Afghanistan's Taliban rulers immediately hand over Osama bin Laden was rejected yesterday. The Taliban demanded evidence that bin Laden had masterminded the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said there would be "no discussions and no negotiations" with the Taliban.

At the same time, thousands demonstrated in Pakistan's major cities, burning effigies of Bush and condemning their government's support of the U.S. campaign against terrorism as an attack on the Islamic faith.

The United States proceeded yesterday in its diplomatic efforts to line up a global alliance to fight terrorism. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said that U.S. and Chinese experts would meet next week to explore how the two sides can cooperate in combating terror.

Speaking after a 2 1/2 -hour meeting with the Chinese foreign minister, Tang Jiaxuan, Powell said China could be helpful to the United States in the search for those responsible for the terrorist attacks. He noted that China has influence in Southwest Asia, where the attacks are believed to have been planned, and might have potentially useful intelligence.

NATO announced it would shift next week's defense ministers' meeting from Naples, Italy, to its headquarters in Brussels because of security concerns.

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