USA

Debate about the investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and critical comments about the Bush administration's handling of them by ex-counterterror chief Richard Clarke grew louder over the weekend. John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, accused the White House of attempted "character assassination" in its rebuttals of Clarke. And members of the commission probing the matter called on National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify publicly, although conceding that she had been "very forthcoming" when meeting with them behind closed doors. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told ABC's "This Week" that attention should go to "what ought we to be doing today so that the next attack does not happen."

A 12-foot-long, unmanned NASA research vehicle resembling a winged surfboard flew faster than seven times the speed of sound in a high-altitude test off the southern California coast. The X-43A, which was dropped from a B-52 bomber, reached about 5,000 m.p.h. during 11 seconds of powered flight before plunging into the ocean. Project managers said the record-setting test has commercial and military applications.

Army reenlistment could drop among military families directly affected by the war in Iraq, according to the spouses of soldiers surveyed for a poll published by The Washington Post. Three-quarters of respondents said they believed the Army may face a retention crisis as military families opt for civilian lives. Extended or repeated deployments of the post-9/11 Army have intensified the burdens borne by military families, such as that of Sgt. Maj. Wolf Amacker after he and other members of the 82nd Airborne Division returned home.

According to a draft audit, the Department of Energy keeps "inaccurate and incomplete accident and injury data" from its nuclear waste cleanup sites, The Washington Post reported. An investigation by the department's inspector-general found instances in which major cleanup contractors were not required to report information on how many workers were injured or became ill while working around nuclear waste.

Crews worked overtime to complete temporary repairs on one of the nation's busiest highways after an oil tanker truck crashed late last Thursday and the resulting fire partially melted an I-95 overpass in Bridgeport, Conn. The state has received $11.2 million in emergency federal funding to reopen the major artery between New York and Boston.

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