USA

The White House said Monday that acting CIA Director John McLaughlin was expressing his personal opinion, and not necessarily that of the Bush administration, in saying over the weekend that he saw no need for a new national intelligence chief. Scott McClellan, Bush's chief spokesman, declined to say whether the president favored creating a new Cabinet-level position to oversee the CIA and 14 other intelligence agencies, as a report by the special 9/11 commission is expected to recommend later this week. The new post would represent the most drastic restructuring of intelligence operations since the CIA was created after World War II. McLaughlin, who took the CIA reins July 11 after George Tenet's departure, also told "Fox News Sunday" that although there are no indications of Iranian complicity in the 9/11 attacks, about eight of the hijackers passed through Iran illegally "in their passage along their operational path."

In the run-up to the Democratic National Convention, which opens July 26, the party's presumed ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards announced they will begin final campaign trips from Kerry's Aurora, Colo., birthplace Friday. They'll stop in swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, underscoring their American-values theme, before Kerry accepts the presidential nomination July 29 in Boston. On Sunday, Edwards pledged to a black congregation in Orlando, Fla., that the party will work to get all voters to the polls and avoid the confusion and controversy that affected the 2000 election in Florida.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarz-enegger (R) has no plans to apologize to Democratic lawmakers in the state, some of whom he called "girlie men" in a weekend rally, his spokesman said. The remark was used to characterize legislators who Schwarzenegger claims are delaying the state budget by catering to special interests. Democrats objected to the characterization, calling it "sexist and homophobic." At issue is a two-year-old law the governor opposes that prohibits the state from contracting services with private companies. Schwarzen-egger favors using a private bus company to transport schoolchildren to save the state money.

Scattered wildfires from eastern San Diego County to Yosemite National Park had burned more than 40,000 acres of California by Monday morning. Strong winds hampered efforts by 1,000 firefighters to control a 4,200-acre blaze in northern Los Angeles County. Several hundred homes were in "imminent danger," a county spokesman said.

Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, visited the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory Sunday to look into security lapses. He had no public comment about the disappearance of two electronic data storage devices earlier in the month or the "stand-down" order the lab's director issued Friday to cease most classified work.

A group of Nobel Peace Prize- winners, including former President Jimmy Carter, planned to file a statement of opposition with the Supreme Court, opposing US executions of juveniles who commit their crimes before age 18. Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, and 48 nations were among those calling for change. The US is one of only five nations that allow juvenile executions. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from Missouri, whose supreme court declared them unconstitutional last year.

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