Posted: April 13, 2005

Specter wants more info

on how Patriot Act is used

Sen. Arlen Specter expressed frustration yesterday with the Justice Department's failure at a closed-door briefing to provide information about its use of the sweeping anti-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act.

The Bush administration wants to extend the act.

Specter, R-Pa., who leads the Judiciary Committee, said senators had seen general, declassified data and were seeking details from senior intelligence officials about their demands for records and their use of roving wiretaps, secret search warrants and other controversial provisions in the law.

"This closed-door briefing was for specifics," Specter said after emerging from the session yesterday. "They didn't have specifics."

"We're going to be digging," he said.

3 held in Britain accused

of plot to bomb Wall Street

Three men with suspected al Qaeda ties, already in British custody, were charged yesterday with a years-long plot to attack the New York Stock Exchange and other East Coast financial institutions.

Discovery of the alleged terrorist plan last summer prompted the Homeland Security Department to raise the terror alert for the targeted buildings, in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J.

A four-count indictment returned by a New York City grand jury alleges the men, all British citizens, conducted surveillance of the buildings between August 2000 and April 2001.

The plot was foiled when Pakistani investigators seized a computer with information from the surveillance.

Ex-con sought in slayings

is nabbed without incident

An ex-convict who collaborated with two professors on a book about life behind bars and vowed never to go back to prison was captured in Georgia yesterday after being accused of two slayings and a rape in South Carolina.

Stephen Stanko, 37, was arrested in a parking lot in Augusta, a day after authorities launched a nationwide manhunt, police said. Authorities had been tipped that a truck they believed Stanko was driving had been seen in the lot.

Stanko, who had just eaten lunch, was unarmed and was taken into custody without incident, Horry County, S.C., Police spokesman Andy Christenson said. He was wearing a suit and tie.

You'll get 'unvarnished truth'

from me, Negroponte insists

President Bush's nominee to be the nation's first intelligence director promised fundamental changes at the 15 agencies he'll oversee and said he would give policy-makers the "unvarnished truth" about threats.

"Our intelligence effort has to generate better results. That's my mandate, plain and simple," John Negroponte, a veteran diplomat told the Senate Intelligence Committee at his confirmation hearing yesterday.

Democrats said they were skeptical he could be the independent arbiter of intelligence the nation needs and one questioned whether he adequately reported human-rights abuses as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s.

Negroponte, father of five adopted Honduran children, is expected to win easy approval.

Cops: Mom forced girl, 12,

into sex, sold girl, 14, for car

A woman was arrested in Florida for allegedly forcing her 12-year-old daughter into prostitution and trading a 14-year-old daughter for a car.

The woman was charged with aggravated child abuse and sexual performance by a child. Both girls have been turned over to the Department of Children & Families.

The youngest girl and her mother, 39, were living out of their car, and would sell sex for food and an occasional shower at the men's homes, according to a report by Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office Detective K.J. Ammons.

The youngest daughter is three months pregnant, the report said; she was 11 when her mother first forced her to have sex with a man. The older daughter refused to be a prostitute and was "sold to a man for a Mercury Cougar," Ammons said.

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