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Senate Told Most Internet Talk Protected as Free Speech

Los Angeles Times

The unrestricted nature of the Internet worldwide computer network allows the spread of materials like hate speech and instructions on bomb-making, but most of it is protected by the First Amendment, several witnesses told members of a Senate panel Thursday.

Appearing at a hearing convened in response to the Oklahoma City bombing, civil liberties experts and a spokesman for an interactive media association said anxiety about the activities of terrorists and anti-government activists does not justify a crackdown on computer networks.

In any case, they told members of a Senate subcommittee on terrorism, it is nearly impossible to control communication on computer networks, which are open to anyone who has a computer linked to a telephone line.

But advocates of increased controls, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), argue that the First Amendment doesn't bar increased federal monitoring of hate speech and violent materials on the Internet.

Frank Tuerkheimer, a University of Wisconsin law professor and former U.S. attorney, said banning Internet postings on bomb-making would be futile because those who want the information to commit terrorism are unlikely to go to the Internet, where they may be traced.

FBI Taps Veteran Bomb Specialist To Head Oklahoma City Probe

Los Angeles Times

The FBI Thursday named an experienced bomb specialist and expert on terrorism to head its probe of last month's Oklahoma City bombing, restructuring its operation in order to gear up for a longer-term investigation.

The new leader of the Oklahoma City team is Danny A. Defenbaugh, a 25-year FBI veteran who has had extensive experience in terrorism-related activities and has headed more than 150 bombing probes all over the world.

The agency said special agent Weldon L. Kennedy, who has led the Oklahoma City operation since the bombing April 19, would return to his permanent post as head of the FBI's Phoenix office, where he will continue to serve as field commander for the probe.

Defenbaugh, 43, who has served in the FBI's Mobile, Ala., office since 1993, is a legendary figure who has been involved in investigations of terrorism in some 20 countries - including the Beirut, Lebanon, bombing of U.S. Marines in 1983 and the hijacking of an Egyptian airliner in 1985.

An FBI-certified bomb technician, Defenbaugh is known as a meticulous investigator and indefatigable detective who also is good at motivating other people and deft at dealing with other federal agencies and with state and local law-enforcement authorities.

Ebola Virus Outbreak Spreads To Two More Cities in Zaire

The Washington Post

The outbreak of the lethal Ebola virus has spread from the Zairian city of Kikwit to two other towns and authorities reportedly restricted travel from the affected region to the capital city of Kinshasa Thursday. But international health officials said they were optimistic that the virus, which is not highly contagious, would soon be under control.

"I get a sense that the whole community is rising up and I think we're going to see a very rapid end to this," said Ralph Henderson, assistant director general of the World Health Organization in an interview Thursday from Geneva.

Scientists working with the Zairian government reported Thursday that there are far fewer cases of the highly fatal Ebola virus than have previously been reported - but added that some patients appear to have fled the hospital where the outbreak began, potentially spreading the disease.

The medical team that arrived two days ago in Kikwit, a city of some 400,000 east of the Zairian capital of Kinshasa, said that 49 people had contracted the disease and 27 had died so far. Ebola virus kills up to 90 percent of its victims. Its symptoms include fever, vomiting, destruction of the body's organs and bleeding from the eyes, nose and other orifices.