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US Takes Measures Following Attacks - 2001-09-20

The Bush administration says those who carried out last week's deadly terrorist attacks apparently had support from foreign nations. The president and his aides are working intensively to line up foreign backing and American military power for an anti-terrorist campaign.

In what may be the first of many deployments, the Defense Department is sending about 100 planes to the Persian Gulf to prepare for possible strikes on terrorist targets. U.S. officials say the network led by exiled Saudi financier Osama bin Laden remains the prime suspect.

While visiting the damaged Pentagon, Attorney General John Ashcroft delivered perhaps the strongest comments yet about state support for the terrorists. He did not accuse specific countries but said a variety of governments are likely to have harbored, sustained and protected them. "And it's time for those governments to understand with crystal clarity that the United States of America will not tolerate that kind of support," he said.

Authorities have now filed the first criminal charges in the case. The suspects are three men arrested near Detroit, who allegedly had airport diagrams and false documents. The three are charged with fraud and misuse of visas and passports. Mr. Ashcroft says it is too soon to tell if this might be a breakthrough.

Meanwhile, President Bush continues talks with world leaders to rally diplomatic support for the anti-terrorist offensive. During a meeting with Indonesia's president Wednesday, Mr. Bush said he would welcome many types of aid. "Now this is a campaign in which nations will contribute in a variety of ways," he added. "Some nations will be willing to join in a very overt way. Other nations will be willing to join by sharing information and information in a campaign such as this is going to be incredibly important."

The government and the private sector are struggling with the economic damage of last Tuesday's deadly airborne assault. The nation's airlines, whose business has sharply declined, are lobbying Congress for a $17.5 billion emergency rescue package. At a House hearing, Delta Airlines President Leo Mullin stressed the industry must have public help to stave off disaster. "We hope with these resources in place the industry will rapidly reach the point where we can turn to the private financial markets to borrow as we have in the past," he said. "Mr. Chairman, our need is urgent and immediate."

The House and Senate are expected to act quickly on the airlines' request. Congress is also considering other ideas for stimulating the economy, which was in a slump even before the terrorists hit.

Congressional leaders met privately with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. The central bank chief will deliver a closely-watched public report on the economy Thursday morning.