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News Briefs

Bush Flunks Foreign Policy Quiz


Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who is scheduled to roll out his foreign policy platform in two weeks, was given the chance to demonstrate his knowledge on the subject in a television interview this week.

He failed.

The GOP presidential front-runner sat down on Wednesday for an interview with WHDH-TV in Boston and was hit with a pop quiz. Political correspondent Andy Hiller, known as a aggressive questioner, asked Bush if he could name the leaders of Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan, all of which have been prominent in the news recently.

Bush got one right: Taiwan.

The interview got at the crux of what Bush’s rivals say he lacks most: The familiarity with international affairs that the public expects from the leader of the world’s only remaining superpower.

Asked to name the leader of Pakistan, who seized control in a highly publicized coup three weeks ago, Bush answered: “General. I can’t name the general. General.” The answer: Pervez Musharraf.

When Bush tried to turn the tables on Hiller and asked him if he could name the foreign minister of Mexico, Hiller reminded Bush that “I’m not running for president.”

Bush campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes defended the Texas governor Thursday.

“I have yet to meet anyone who knows off the tip of their tongue who the president of Chechnya is,” she said.

Government Near Decision on Indicting Lee in Los Alamos Case


The federal government is in the final stages of determining what classified information could be presented in court against Wen Ho Lee, clearing the way for a possible indictment of the former nuclear weapons scientist as early as next week, according to senior administration officials.

Justice Department prosecutors have been wrestling for months over whether to seek an indictment against Lee, a U.S. citizen from Taiwan who was fired in March for alleged security violations at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where he had worked for almost 20 years.

Officials indicated the government has decided not to prosecute Lee for espionage, since there is no evidence that he deliberately turned over nuclear secrets to China.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson was briefed last week on the types of classified information that might have to be made public as evidence in a trial.

McConnell Proposes Hearings on Some Campaign-Finance Reform


Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has led successful Republican efforts to block campaign finance legislation, said Thursday he intends to hold hearings next spring on a new proposal that would increase individual campaign contribution limits and restrict -- but not ban -- unregulated donations to political parties.

The move was welcomed by Democrats, who described it as an indication that pressure for reform was growing but said the proposal itself does not go far enough, according to aides.

Speaking for himself and Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Ky., McConnell, who heads the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said he intends to use the new proposal as the basis for legislation to be drafted by the committee.