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News Briefs

Cheney Makes Belated Attack On Gore’s Oil Conflict of Interest


As part of his daily attack on the Al Gore, Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney hit Gore where the GOP ticket has been feeling some heat lately: the oil industry.

Cheney summoned reporters Monday to accuse Gore of a “conflict of interest” for supporting an extension of a moratorium on royalties U.S. oil companies would have to pay to drill for natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico when the Gore family trust has holdings in Occidental Petroleum Corp.

He called on the vice president to either recuse himself from administration energy policy or divest the family trust of the holdings, valued at about $500,000. Cheney said it was “inappropriate for Gore to advocate a position that is clearly linked to Occidental Petroleum’s financial health.”

Given that Gore stated that position in June, why was Cheney raising it Monday? Because, Cheney told reporters, he got tired of hearing Gore “castigating” oil companies, including this morning on NBC’s “Today Show.”

Clinton, GOP Agree on Allowing Prescription Drug Imports


President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders signaled willingness Monday to move quickly to pass legislation allowing low-price purchase of U.S.-made drugs from abroad, but they remained at odds over more far-reaching proposals to provide prescription drug benefits for elderly Americans.

In a letter to Clinton, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., offered to “work with you to find an acceptable version (of the drug reimportation measure) that preserves the safety of our drug supply.”

Clinton responded later in the day that he was prepared to sign the Senate-passed version of the legislation which, unlike the House bill, includes provisions for the Food and Drug Administration to track and test the imports. He also said Congress would have to approve $23 million to fund the FDA safety monitoring.

“I urge you to send me the Senate legislation -- with full funding -- to let wholesalers and pharmacists bring affordable prescription drugs to the neighborhoods where our seniors live,” Clinton, who was traveling in California, said in a letter to the two GOP leaders.

FBI Defends Handling of Lee Case


FBI Director Louis J. Freeh plans to vigorously defend the government’s handling of the Wen Ho Lee prosecution in testimony Tuesday before Congress, arguing that the case against the scientist remains exceedingly strong despite the tactical decision to enter into a plea bargain with him.

In testimony submitted in advance of Tuesday’s special joint session of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, Freeh said the government could have proven every allegation against Lee had it taken the case to trial. But national security concerns prompted the plea-bargain decision, for two reasons: to prevent sensitive information about nuclear secrets from being disclosed in open court, and because Lee agreed to explain under oath what he did with roughly 400,000 pages of information he downloaded to portable computer tapes.

“Let me say as emphatically and as forcefully as possible, the FBI and the Department of Justice stand by each and every one of the 59 counts in the indictment of Dr. Lee,” Freeh said.