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News Briefs

Former Congressional Aide Charged With Aiding Iraq

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Federal prosecutors charged a former congressional aide on Thursday with working with the Iraqi intelligence service before the war. Investigators said she had tried to influence U.S. policy toward Iraq by presenting herself as an intermediary to a highly placed relative, Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff.

The woman, Susan P. Lindauer, 40, was arrested Thursday morning by federal agents at her home in Takoma Park, Md., outside Washington. In New York, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment that said she had met repeatedly with representatives of the Iraqi intelligence service starting in 1999 and that she had traveled to Baghdad in 2002 for meetings with Iraqi intelligence officials.

Speaking to television news reporters as she was led away from an FBI office outside of Baltimore, Lindauer described herself as an anti-war activist and said she was innocent. “I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else,” she said.

Kerry Defends Criticism Of Republicans

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Sen. John Kerry on Thursday fought off Republican attacks over his harsh off-the-cuff comments about his critics and refused to apologize for describing Republicans as “crooked” and “lying.”

“I haven’t said anything that’s incorrect about them, and they’ve said lots of things that are incorrect,” Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, told reporters, citing Republicans’ attacks on his voting record, President Bush’s new campaign ads against him and tactics used in earlier campaigns. “There is a Republican attack squad that specializes in trying to destroy people and be negative,” he said.

The controversy over Kerry’s description of Republicans as “the most crooked, you know, lying group I’ve ever seen,” heard in a low-key conversation with workers in Chicago that was picked up by a live microphone, shadowed his return to Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats on Thursday,

Before Kerry spoke, congressional Republicans were out in force. The Republican leadership made Kerry one of the two items on the docket for their own meeting Thursday and emerged swinging.

House Votes To Raise Penalties For Indecent Broadcasts

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Saying much of the public is fed up with indecent television and radio programming, members of the House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to increase penalties on broadcasters and performers who violate federal standards.

Spurred by a racy Super Bowl halftime show, that included the baring of singer Janet Jackson’s right breast, the House voted, 391 to 22, to raise fines, to $500,000 for the holders of broadcast licenses and entertainers from $27,500 and $11,000, respectively. The measure would also force the Federal Communication Commission to act more quickly on complaints and move to revoke the licenses of repeat offenders.

“For too long, we have told the entertainment industry that the federal government is unwilling to hold them accountable for their actions,” Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Penn., said. “Today, we are saying, Enough is enough.”

The bill, covering just content broadcast over the public airwaves and not cable or satellite programs, was strongly backed by the White House.