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Congress backs moving cash from rebuilding to security

The Bush administration won Congress' permission Wednesday to shift $3.5-billion from slow-moving Iraqi reconstruction projects to improving security and speeding job creation there.

The White House asked Congress on Sept. 13 to let it transfer the money, which is part of an $18.4-billion package for Iraq enacted last November.

The request, sparked by an ongoing insurgency that has put many contractors well behind schedule, has met little opposition in Congress. Democrats have used it to launch campaign-season accusations that President Bush had an inadequate blueprint for rebuilding Iraq.

"It has become crystal clear that we have no coherent plans to win the peace," Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said before the House approved the provision.

Without the change, the White House could shift only $800-million without Congress' approval. Though the administration insisted last fall that lawmakers approve the $18.4-billion urgently, barely $1-billion has been spent.

The House approved the measure 389-32; all west-central Florida representatives voted yes except for Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Crystal River, who did not vote. The Senate approved the measure by voice vote.

Administration works

to shape opinions on Iraq

WASHINGTON _ The Bush administration, battling negative perceptions of the Iraq war, is sending Iraqi-Americans to deliver what the Pentagon calls "good news" about Iraq to U.S. military bases and has curtailed distribution of reports showing increasing violence in that country.

The U.S. Agency for International Development said this week that it will restrict distribution of reports by contractor Kroll Security International showing that the number of daily attacks by insurgents in Iraq has increased.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office has sent commanders of U.S. military facilities a memo saying the Pentagon is sponsoring a group of Iraqi-Americans and former officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority to speak at military bases throughout the United States starting Friday.