President Bush was to announce a major overhaul of homeland security programs, his aides said, in a televised address set for Thursday night. They said he would ask Congress to approve a new Cabinet-level security agency that would analyze intelligence on potential terrorist activity, officials said. That's something Congress been urging for months. The agency would supplement, but not replace, FBI and CIA intelligence work, as part of a package of proposals from Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. (Story, page 1.)
Word of Bush's planned announcement came as FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his agency's perceived intelligence lapses. "The need for change was apparent even before Sept. 11. It has become more urgent since then," Mueller said. The FBI chief (above, l., taking his seat for the hearing) came under fire from Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, however, for a Justice Department plan to fingerprint foreign visa holders considered a security risk. The fingerprint plan would mostly affect nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. It also has been heavily criticized by Arab interest groups. (Story, page 2; editorial, page 10.)
New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to their lowest level in 13 months, the Labor Department reported. Jobless claims for the week ending June 1 dropped by a seasonally adjusted 32,000 to 383,000, the third straight weekly decline. Analysts called the latest figures an encouraging sign for the economy amid a sluggish labor market.
A suspect in the 1998 killing of a Buffalo, N.Y., physician who performed abortions was to be arraigned on state charges of second degree murder as the Monitor went to press. A day earlier, James Kopp pleaded innocent to federal charges related to the sniper shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian. Kopp was extradited from France where he was captured last year.
Police mobilized a multistate search for a teenager kidnapped at gunpoint from her bedroom in the wealthy Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City Wednesday. The parents of Elizabeth Smart made an impassioned plea for her release, and asked for volunteers to search house-to-house and in a nearby a wooded area for clues to her disappearance.
In a separate abduction case, deputies in Idaho Falls, Idaho, fatally shot a suspect in the kidnapping of a 14-year-old. The Bonneville County sheriff said the unidentified girl escaped from neighbor Keith Hescock's home after he left for work Wednesday and alerted authorities, who were waiting when he returned. Hescock fled by truck, but died in a confrontation. A deputy was injured in the incident.