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Briefs (left)

White House Mulled Seizing
Relief Mission

By Eric Lipton, Eric Schmitt, and Tom Shanker

As New Orleans descended into chaos last week and Louisiana’s governor asked for 40,000 soldiers, President Bush’s senior advisers debated whether the president should seize control of the chaotic hurricane relief mission from the governor so that active-duty combat troops could be sent to enforce order.

For reasons of practicality and politics, officials at the Justice Department and Pentagon, and ultimately at the White House, decided not to urge the president to take command of the effort by invoking the Insurrection Act, which allows the president in times of unrest to command active-duty forces into the states to perform law enforcement duties.

Instead, the Washington officials decided to rely on the growing number of National Guard personnel flowing into Louisiana, who were under Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s control.

As criticism of the response to Hurricane Katrina has mounted, one of the most pointed questions has been why more troops were not available more quickly to restore order and offer aid in the flooded city. Interviews with officials in Washington and Louisiana show that as the situation grew more chaotic, they were wrangling with complicated questions involving federal-state authority, weighing the realities of military logistics and perhaps talking past each other in the crisis.

U.S. Lawyer is Questioned
Over Rights of Detainees

By Neil A. Lewis

A three-judge panel trying to resolve the extent of the rights of Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detentions sharply questioned a Bush administration lawyer on Thursday when he argued that the detainees had no right to be heard in federal appeals courts.

The panel of the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is trying to apply a 2004 Supreme Court ruling to two subsequent, conflicting decisions by lower courts, one of which was appealed by the prisoners and the other by the administration.

In its June 28, 2004, ruling, the Supreme Court said that the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was not outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law as Bush administration lawyers had argued and that the habeas corpus statute allowing prisoners to challenge their detentions was applicable.

But in trying to apply the Supreme Court ruling, two U.S. District Court judges reached opposite conclusions on whether the prisoners had a right to have federal courts examine their detentions.

Bond Markets to Raise Funds
For Vaccines for Poor

By Celia W. Dugger

Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Sweden will announce an agreement on Friday to raise almost $4 billion on the bond markets for an enormously expanded use of vaccines across the developing world. The World Health Organization estimates this undertaking will save the lives of 5 million children over the next decade.

Commitments from some of the participating nations have been secured only in recent days.

The new funds would roughly double the resources of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, an umbrella group of countries, international organizations, vaccine industry representatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the past five years, the alliance has financed the immunization of 78 million children and prevented more than a million child deaths, the health organization estimates.