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News Briefs

Bush Defends Plans For Secret Military Trials for Terrorists

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

President Bush told federal prosecutors Thursday that secret military trials for some foreign terrorism suspects could help prevent the U.S. legal protections from being used to undermine national security.

Bush is facing complaints from Capitol Hill that he is seizing too much power by establishing the military tribunals and installing himself as the sole arbiter of who will be tried under that system.

“We’re an open society, but we’re at war,” Bush told a conference of U.S. attorneys. “The enemy has declared war on us, and we must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself. Foreign terrorists and agents must never again be allowed to use our freedoms against us.” Bush used his 18 minutes of remarks to offer a forceful defense of administration policies being challenged on the grounds that they abridge civil liberties. Bush put himself firmly behind the aggressive new techniques of his Justice Department, which is using immigration laws to detain and question non-citizens, some of whom have peripheral and non-existent ties to the events of Sept. 11.

Enron Employees Take Huge Hit On Retirement Savings

NEWSDAY

Thousands of Enron Corp. workers have had their retirement savings wiped out, leading financial planners to warn against loading up pension plans with employers’ stock.

Enron’s 401(k) retirement plan lost an estimated $850 million in the past two months as shares in the largest U.S. energy trader plummeted on waves of bad news about poor accounting, huge losses and insider deals that benefited top executives.

The stock’s dive -- from $83 in December to 36 cents Thursday -- wrecked the pension plan because Enron shares accounted for 62 percent of its assets.

Most of Enron’s 21,000 workers are believed to have suffered massive losses. Some have filed suit, alleging that company officials who ran the 401(k) plan promoted Enron shares despite knowledge of undisclosed financial irregularities.

The lawsuits also charge that employees were prevented from selling company stock during a critical month when it lost more than half its value.

NTSB Ships Flight 587 Tail Fin To NASA for Analysis

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Federal air safety investigators said Thursday they will ask NASA for help in determining why the tail fin of American Airlines Flight 587 broke off, an unusual step that underscores the difficulty of the probe.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it will ship the Airbus A300’s vertical tail fin and rudder to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., for testing. Langley is the space agency’s lead center for developing advanced materials such as the carbon fiber composite from which the 27-foot tail fin was constructed. The analysis could take several months.

Flight 587 crashed Nov. 12 shortly after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, killing all 260 people aboard and another five on the ground. The tail fin was found in Jamaica Bay, about a half mile from the Queens neighborhood where the main fuselage crashed.