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News Briefs

U.S. to Move Consular Office From East Jerusalem


The United States plans to move its consular office, which handles immigrant and non-immigrant visas and services to American citizens, out of Arab East Jerusalem “to a more secure spot,” the State Department deputy spokesman Phillip Reeker announced Tuesday.

Anticipating that the move could be interpreted by Palestinians as giving increasing support to Israel, Reeker told reporters the decision “is solely intended to address significant security concerns, which we’ve been looking at for some time” and has come up now because “the security of our people overseas has to be a top priority.”

The announcement came as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sharply criticized the present Palestinian Authority leadership, saying, “There is no question but that ... (it was) involved with terrorist activities.” Palestinian Authority Cabinet ministers are to meet here Thursday and Friday with Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Powell and Rice will meet with Saeb Erekat, a senior adviser to Yasser Arafat, Economy Minister Maher el Masri and Interior Minister Abdel Raza Yehiyeh. The agenda is said to include civil reform and security cooperation.

While Rumsfeld was criticizing the Palestinian leadership, Reeker was telling reporters that the U.S. “focus is on working with Palestinians with whom we think we can have constructive discussions about the way to move forward, in line with the president’s strategy.”

Online Security Experts Brace for Attack


Online security experts were on alert Tuesday in the wake of an FBI warning of possible attacks on Web sites and Internet service providers from hackers in Western Europe. But all seemed quiet on the Internet front during the day.

“We are not seeing anything that is out of the ordinary,” said Marty Lindner of the CERT Coordination Center, a government-funded program that monitors the Internet for security breaches.

Based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, CERT was founded in 1988 in response to the Morris worm attack that shut down 10 percent of Internet systems.

“We get reports of attacks every day, but nothing happened that was outside the status quo,” Lindner said. “Today was just like yesterday and the day before.”

FBI officials would not say what information resulted in the attack warning issued late Monday, except to say it was “credible but nonspecific.”

A spokeswoman for the agency said Tuesday afternoon that the FBI also knew of no widespread attacks.

The warning by the FBI’s National Infrastructure Protection Center was described as an alert, which is the NIPC’s most urgent category. The only other alerts issued this year were to warn in April of the Klez.h e-mail worm and a February disclosure of possible security vulnerabilities to the SNMP protocol widely used by Internet equipment.