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Briefs (right)

Brazil Considers Trade
Sanctions Against U.S.

By Joel Brinkley

As Robert Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state, arrived here Thursday for a goodwill visit, Brazil asked the World Trade Organization for the right to impose trade sanctions against the United States for just over $1 billion because of a longstanding argument over cotton subsidies.

Both countries chose to portray the timing as coincidental, but the dispute forced Zoellick to react to the sanctions request in some of his meetings here. He offered strong views and thinly veiled threats.

Zoellick, who was the U.S. trade representative before taking his present job early this year, warned that Brazil ought to think carefully about requesting sanctions, suggesting that they could incite a trade war.

“Frankly I think retaliation is counterproductive,” he said in a meeting with Brazilian journalists Thursday afternoon.

Later, during a news conference, he suggested that Washington could choose to eliminate trade preferences that allow Brazil to ship more than $2 billion in goods to the United States duty free, adding: “When one side retaliates, who knows what the other side will do?”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited here last spring, and other senior administration officials have worked hard in recent months to portray relations with Brazil as uniformly warm, friendly and improving. But even without the trade sanctions dispute, Zoellick’s meetings here Thursday provided a view of a darker underbelly.

Army’s Plan for Growth
Is Adequate, Secretary Says

By Thom Shanker

The Army can sustain current troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, even as it builds additional combat brigades, without personnel increases beyond the 30,000 already approved by Congress, the service’s senior civilian said Thursday.

The senior civilian, Francis J. Harvey, the Army secretary, said in an interview with a small group of reporters that the number of active-duty personnel is scheduled to peak at 512,400 in 2007 before dropping back to 482,400 from 2008 to 2011. The number of people within the “operational” part of the Army — troops who can deploy to plan, command and carry out missions — will grow to 355,000 by 2007, from 315,000 in 2004, he said.

The increase in troops assigned to combat, combat service and combat support jobs will be found through a variety of new personnel policies, including trimming the institutional and administrative branches of the service to 75,000 people from 2008 to 2011, from 104,000 in 2004.

Harvey also described plans to reduce the number of people assigned at any one time to training slots to 52,400 by 2011 from 63,400 in 2004.

Harvey emphasized that these projections include a number of caveats, the most important being that the Army is not assigned any significant new missions beyond those it is carrying today.

New Spy Case Revives
Concerns Over Security at FBI

By Eric Lichtblau and Ronald Smothers


The widening investigation into an FBI analyst suspected of passing intelligence to the Philippines is raising new concerns about the bureau’s vulnerabilities in protecting its secrets from internal espionage.

After the Robert Hanssen spy scandal in 2001, the FBI undertook a major overhaul of its internal security to prevent employees from pilfering secret records. Among the measures was the increased use of internal computer audits to spot employees like Hanssen who might be reading records they had no reason to review.

But Leandro Aragoncillo, hired last year as an analyst for the bureau at Fort Monmouth in Eatontown, N.J., appears to have done just that for months without being noticed, officials say. Aragoncillo is accused of combing the computer system to print or download improperly 101 classified documents on the Philippines, including 37 marked “secret,” and passing the information to Manila in his native country.

Investigators for the FBI say they suspect that he may have also improperly gained access to classified material when he worked at the White House as a Marine aide to the vice president’s office under Dick Cheney and Al Gore.

Officials said that Aragoncillo was cooperating in the investigation and that he might seek a plea bargain. His lawyer declined to comment.

Democrats Are Advised
To Broaden Appeal

By Robin Toner

Reigniting an intense debate within the Democratic Party, a new analysis argues that Democrats cannot return to power by energizing liberals alone, but must rebuild their credibility on foreign policy and values issues and stem their losses among swing voters, notably married women and Roman Catholics.

The report, released on Thursday and prepared for the Third Way, a political and policy group for centrist Democrats, contends that the party must free itself of several myths left over from the 2000 and 2004 elections, especially the idea that the way to win in a polarized era is to do much better at mobilizing the party’s political base. The authors argue that this strategy is doomed to fail for the Democrats because there are simply more voters who identify themselves as conservatives than as liberals.

In a consistent trend since the mid-1970s, about a fifth of the voters say they are liberals, about a third conservatives and about 45 percent moderates.