USA

The Clinton and Bush administrations both tried to disrupt Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist operations before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA Director George Tenet (above) testified during Day 2 of hearings before the commission investigating the 9/11 acts. Tenet said the government, while successful in some cases, lacked a "systemic" plan to defend against terrorism. A preliminary report said the CIA did not believe it had the authority to assassinate bin Laden before the attacks and was relying heavily on anti-Taliban Afghan groups to hunt him down.

The White House ruled out tapping into the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring down the price of gasoline at the pump. According to the American Automobile Association's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, consumers were paying an all-time average high of $1.738 a gallon for unleaded regular as of Wednesday. The AAA attributes the price to rising consumption and high crude-oil prices, among other factors.

In an 8-to-1 decision, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states may block cities and other local governments from becoming phone service providers.

Medicare could go broke by 2019, trustees of the federal healthcare insurance program announced Tuesday in their first official long-term forecast for funding the law.

The cost of sending a letter first-class could jump 4 cents by 2006 unless restrictions on Postal Service operations are eased, Postmaster General John Potter told a joint House-Senate hearing Tuesday.

During two months off the coasts of Mexico and Ecuador, a Coast Guard cutter seized more than 141 tons of cocaine from fishing boats, the most ever found during a single patrol.

More rigorous government enforcement efforts are needed against credit card counseling agencies that deal in deceptive practices and charge high fees, according to a report released Wednesday by an investigative panel of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Bush administration on Tuesday lifted a restriction that required Pacific Northwest forest managers to check the potential effects on 300 plants and animal species before logging old-growth forests.

The recording industry targeted 532 people in so-called "John Doe" lawsuits for illegally sharing digitial music files over the Internet. The move included, for the first time, users of university computer networks. The recording industry must work through the courts to identify the defendants, reports said.

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