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New congressional panel to monitor terror

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Congress has established a new panel to monitor the U.S. war against terrorism.

The panel will be part of the House Armed Services Committee and is also expected to follow any U.S.-led war against Iraq.

The House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities will be headed by Rep. James Saxton, a New Jersey Republican. Saxton is regarded as the number three member of the Armed Services Committee, now headed by Rep. Duncan Hunter.

"Our nation must manage significant national security challenges over the next several years," Hunter, a California Republican, said, "We are already facing a potential conflict with Iraq, new challenges on the Korean Peninsula, and key decisions in the president's plans to transform the military. This century is going to be a very dangerous century."

Congressional sources said the mandate of the new terrorism subcommittee has not yet been approved. But they expect the subcommittee to examine terrorist threats in the Middle East. They said a leading subject on the panel's agenda could be the Iranian-backed Hizbullah.

The new subcommittee has also been authorized to oversee the U.S. military's Special Operations Forces. In addition, the panel will monitor the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is developing new technologies in the war on terrorism.

Rep. Terry Everett, a Republican from Alabama, will chair the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which oversees ballistic missile defenses and space programs. Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican from Pennsylvania, will head the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces.

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