GOP rep says he'll investigate

destruction of CIA videotapes

WASHINGTON - The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee defied the Bush administration yesterday and pledged to investigate the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.

"We want to hold the community accountable for what's happened with these tapes. I think we will issue subpoenas," said Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.

The Justice Department has urged Congress not to investigate and advised intelligence officials not to cooperate with a legislative inquiry.

"You've got a community that's incompetent. They are arrogant. And they are political," Hoekstra said. "And I think that we're going to hold [CIA Director] Mike Hayden accountable."

Earlier this month, the CIA acknowledged destroying videos showing the harsh interrogation of top al-Qaida suspects. Hayden said the videos, which were made in 2002, were destroyed in 2005 out of fear the tapes would leak and reveal the identifies of interrogators.

Kin of military crash victims wants remains, not red tape

BURLINGTON, Vt. - The families of eight U.S. military men who died in a 1944 plane crash in the Himalayas want the Pentagon to step up efforts to recover their remains from the crash site discovered last year by a mountaineer.

"I was so elated," Larry Zaetz said about hearing the plane that carried his older brother had been found. But now Zaetz and other relatives say they've been frustrated by what they see as the Defense Department's slowness to send a team to India to retrieve crew members' remains.

Maj. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii, said he doubted such an effort would be launched anytime soon. He blamed political instability in the region and said the needed approvals from Indian government ministries, requested nearly a year ago, have not been granted.

Zaetz noted India is a U.S. ally, and he called reports of instability in the region out of date.

N.Y. hotel construction boom,

but will it bring down prices?

NEW YORK - In a city where residents often pay more than half their salaries for a place to lay their heads, visitors in need of lodging have long faced a shortage of hotel rooms and rising prices.

Now, with 8,500 hotel rooms under construction in the city - a growth of more than 10 percent - that crunch could ease ever so slightly in the coming months.

New York sees more overseas and domestic visitors than any other U.S. destination except Orlando, Fla., according to analysts at Global Insight Inc. But it has fewer hotel rooms than less-popular spots including Las Vegas, Chicago, the Los Angeles metro area and Atlanta, according to Smith Travel Research.

Many travelers seeking an affordable room head far afield of the usual tourist draws, and developers have taken notice. New lodging is under construction or recently opened in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Long Island and beyond.

Chinese man used 100 women

in Minn. sex ring, cops allege

MINNEAPOLIS - A man suspected of luring 100 Asian women into a sex ring here has been charged in federal court with transporting women across state lines to engage in prostitution.

The Minneapolis police said the man, Liqing Liu, 41, a Chinese national, began a sex business here in February and made $70,000 a month. Liu rotated locations and prostitutes frequently in an effort to be inconspicuous, the police said.

Most recently, the police said, Liu was using a shabby massage parlor in Minneapolis, where red stickers spell the word "Massage" in crooked letters and a waving ceramic cat was perched in the lobby.

Sgt. Grant Snyder of the Minneapolis Police said the women, all Chinese or Korean, were prohibited from leaving the place of business, kept under video surveillance, and had their passports and other forms of identification confiscated.

The demise of crime kingpins

CHICAGO - The powerful Chicago gang kingpin is looking more and more like an endangered species.

Major street gangs that once carved up the city into virtual fiefdoms for drug trafficking are producing fewer of the "super" leaders who dominated their organizations with charisma, ruthlessness and guile in years past, law-enforcement officials andother experts say.

The factors behind this dramatic change range from aggressive federal prosecutions of leadership ranks to a crackdown on once-powerful gang leaders inside prisons.

The culture is also changing among younger gang bangers, who are wary of taking on leadership roles for fear of drawing heat, the officials and experts said. *

- Daily News wire services