FBI struggling to fill terror force

WASHINGTON - The FBI has made strides in hiring intelligence analysts to look for clues about terror attacks but is still about 400 jobs short of reaching its authorized staffing level, a Justice Department audit concluded yesterday.

Steps have been taken to hire, train, use and keep intelligence analysts, yet progress has been "slow and uneven" in some cases, according to a new report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

The FBI plans to hire about 250 new analysts by the end of September, the report showed. It has more than doubled its number of analysts since 2001, growing from 1,023 employees that year to 2,174 in 2006.

"Analysts continue to express high levels of satisfaction with their work assignments and believe they are making important contributions to the FBI's mission," the audit found. That conclusion was enthusiastically embraced as "perhaps most important" by FBI National Security chief Willie T. Hulon.

- AP

Obama says world needs a strong U.S.

CHICAGO - Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) said yesterday that even though the global image of the United States had been sullied by the war in Iraq and a "foreign policy based on a flawed ideology," America must repair its standing in the world and resist the temptation to turn inward.

"America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America," Obama said. "We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission - we must lead the world, by deed and example."

In the speech, his first major foreign-policy address since entering the presidential race, Obama presented himself as a candidate "who can speak directly to the world."

"The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us. We must meet those expectations again, not because being respected is an end in itself, but because the security of America and the wider world demands it."

-New York Times
News Service

Dependence on oil risky, McCain says

WASHINGTON - Republican presidential contender John McCain yesterday warned about U.S. reliance on foreign oil and the threat of global warming, dismissing even some in his own party who suggest that climate change is a Hollywood-driven notion.

The way people in this country use oil "is a serious threat to our security, our economy and the well-being of our planet," the Arizona senator said in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Al-Qaeda must revel in the irony that America is effectively helping to fund both sides of the war they caused. As we sacrifice blood and treasure, some of our gas dollars flow to the fanatics who build the bombs, hatch the plots, and carry out attacks on our soldiers and citizens," he said. "The transfer of American wealth to the Middle East helps sustain the conditions on which terrorists prey."

McCain's speech was one of three policy addresses before his formal presidential announcement tomorrow in New Hampshire.- AP

Elsewhere:

Firefighters in southeast Georgia used bulldozers yesterday to widen breaks that were protecting a small community from a wildfire that has blackened more than 87 square miles of forest. The fire was about 45 percent contained.

The Navy's Blue Angels were back home at their base in Pensacola, Fla., yesterday to regroup and mourn the loss of one of their pilots, killed in a crash while performing in one of his first air shows with the team.