At a conference in Santa Fe, N.M., governors of four US and six Mexican states focused on creating a "border security region" to establish a more unified and integrated approach to improving security. The urgency of resolving border-crossing issues was underscored by two incidents earlier this week:

• On Monday night, eight undocumented immigrants and a smuggler were killed as the car they occupied sped away from the Mexican border and plunged into an irrigation canal near McAllen, Texas. A ninth migrant survived.

• A trucker accused of cramming 79 illegal aliens, including 14 children, into his trailer, was ordered Tuesday to remain in jail in Fort Worth, Texas. None of the immigrants appeared to be hurt.

US Rep. Porter Goss (R) of Florida, a former CIA clandestine services officer, was nominated Monday by President Bush to take over the agency, which has been led by acting director John McLaughlin since George Tenet's July 11 resignation. If confirmed by the Senate, Goss would become only the second congressman to head the CIA after former President George H.W. Bush. In other national security developments:

• The Transportation Security Administration moved to shore up security at New York heliports with passenger and baggage checks after police warned that Al Qaeda has considered using tourist helicopters as bombs.

• An Associated Press report indicates that most local Las Vegas law-enforcement officials and casino security officers declined an invitation in 2002 to view footage obtained by the FBI that suggested terrorists had cased gambling establishments. Authorities worried about the effects on tourism and the casinos' legal liabilities, internal Justice Department memos indicate.

Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols asked for forgiveness Monday after a district court judge in McAlester, Okla., sentenced him to 161 consecutive life sentences for his role in the 1995 attack. In addressing the court for the first time in two trials (the first for a federal conviction), Nichols said, "Words cannout adequately express the sorrow I have had over the years for the grief that so many have endured and continue to suffer. I truly am sorry for what occurred."

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