USA

President Bush was scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday night, the 12th of his presidency, to address, among other issues, rising instability and casualties in Iraq, where 78 US troops were killed and 561 wounded in the first 12 days of April, according to an Army spokesman. In related developments:

• US civilian employees missing in Iraq now total seven after six workers for a Halliburton Co. subsidiary disappeared two days ago, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said Monday. He refused to say whether they'd been kidnapped like Thomas Hamill, who was snatched by gunmen during an attack on a fuel convoy Friday.

• Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the US forces in Iraq, said Iraq's unreliable security force will be bolstered with the addition of former senior members of Saddam Hussein's disbanded army.

• Abizaid denounced Arab television stations Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya for broadcasting what he called false reports that American troops were targeting civilians in the city of Fallujah. A spokesman for one of the stations said it had tried to cover "all sides of the story."

• In Tokyo, Vice President Cheney said the administration would soon announce its choice to succeed Paul Bremer as the the chief Americian civilian official in Iraq.

• For the first time, a military robot designed to keep soldiers out of harm's way was "destroyed in action," its manufacturer, iRobot Corp., said Monday, citing Pentagon reports from Iraq. No details were provided in order protect between 50 and 100 other robots used for battlefield reconnaisance and other tasks.

Testifying Tuesday before the special commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, former FBI Director Louis Freeh said, "We had a very effective program with respect to counterterrorism prior to Sept. 11, given the resources we had." The remark was a partial rebuttal of a commision report that the FBI failed over several years to reorganize and respond to a steadily growing threat of terrorism.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia apologized in writing to two journalists for an April 7 incident in which a US marshal guarding him confiscated and erased two audiotapes of a speech he had given on the Constitution at a high school in Hattiesburg, Miss. Scalia's apologies were disclosed in letter to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which had protested the marshall's act. which Scalia says he didn't direct.

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