Official defends targeting Awlaki

ASPEN, Colo. - The director of the National Counterterrorism Center on Wednesday defended the government's right to target U.S. citizens perceived as terror threats for capture or killing, citing the example of the renegade al-Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Center director Michael Leiter would not say whether Awlaki was on a U.S. targeting list, but a senior U.S. counterterrorism official has previously confirmed that the cleric is among terror targets sought to be captured or killed.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Leiter justified targeting with "all elements of U.S. national power" those plotting to kill U.S. citizens.

Leiter also said Awlaki had a "direct operational role" in the plot that allegedly sent Christmas Day bombing suspect Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab to attack a Detroit-bound jet. He insisted that the United States was well within its rights to defend itself. - AP

VA: Oversight of radiation is better

The Veterans Health Administration has dramatically improved its oversight of how doctors at its hospitals use radiation at its 153 hospitals across the system, officials told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel Wednesday in Lisle, Ill.

The conference was convened to give the Veterans Affairs Department an opportunity to explain what it has done to fix problems in its oversight of radiation safety at its hospitals before the NRC takes action on three apparent violations of federal regulations.

The NRC is expected to issue an enforcement action by the middle of August that could range from no action to a fine or other sanction. - Josh Goldstein

Full survey vowed of Arlington graves

WASHINGTON - Military officials promised Wednesday to conduct a complete survey of the 330,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery amid revelations that 211 graves did not correspond with burial maps.

At a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Chairman Ike Skelton (D., Mo.) demanded further review of problems at the cemetery. He said an initial investigation - which revealed unmarked graves, mislabeled headstones, and carelessly handled cremation remains - was too limited to unearth all the problems.

The blunders underscore long-standing breakdowns in the chain of command at the cemetery, which still has a paper record system. Army Secretary John McHugh said the Army had begun the "laborious" work of setting Arlington straight. As a last resort, he said, it may even open caskets for verification. - L.A. Times


Democrats are considering Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Charlotte, N.C., to host the 2012 convention that is likely to nominate President Obama for a second term. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, announced the finalists Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union issued travel alerts for Arizona, saying the state law cracking down on illegal immigrants could lead to racial profiling and warrantless arrests.

President Obama has ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff in honor of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.