F-16s Force Jim McKay, Hannah Storm to Land

The Sept. 11 terror attacks had a profound impact on the United States, and the effects are still rippling across American society in large and small ways. Here is a periodic wrap-up of some of them.

Fighter Jets Escort Sportscasters' Plane

S A L T L A K E C I T Y, Nov. 8 — Two F-16 fighter jets escorted a plane carrying NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol and announcers Hannah Storm and Jim McKay back to an airport after their private jet lost radio contact on takeoff from Salt Lake City, officials said today.

NBC spokesman Kevin Sullivan said the group of 10 employees was returning Wednesday afternoon to New York after a meeting to prepare the network's coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"The pilot lost radio communications with the tower and began to circle while attempting to restore communications," Sullivan said. "Not long after that [the passengers] looked out the window and they noticed an F-16 fighter."

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the pilot was able to send out a signal alerting traffic controllers that the radio was not working. The F-16 jets then guided the private plane to a smaller airport just north of Salt Lake City. The plane resumed its trip after its radio was fixed.

U.S. military jets around the country have been on alert since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In addition to the forced landing in Nevada, two F-16 fighter jets today forced a single-engine plane to land at a central Florida airport. Area schools were locked down for about 20 minutes as the plane was being escorted to the airport.

About an hour after the plane was forced down and parked at the Ocala airport's main terminal, authorities used bomb-sniffing dogs to inspect the aircraft for explosives.

—From Wire Reports

Justice Department Rebuilt to Fight Terror

W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 8 — Attorney General John Ashcroft unveiled a sweeping restructuring of the Justice Department today to better position local FBI and immigration agents to combat terrorism.

Ashcroft called his five-year plan a "wartime reorganization and mobilization" and said it would shift 10 percent of the jobs in Washington headquarters to field offices around the country.

"The war on terrorism will not be fought in Washington but in the field by agents," Ashcroft declared in a speech in which he previewed the plan he was submitting to Congress.

Ashcroft said he was restructuring the FBI's counterterrorism efforts to better ensure prevention of attacks and toward that goal ordered law enforcement to better share intelligence.

He said he also wanted to root out waste and duplication in his department to free more money for the terrorism fight.

"We must protect Americans regardless of the level of resources provided," the attorney general said.

The FBI has already shifted resources to focus on investigating and disrupting additional terrorist attacks, though agents continue to investigate the Sept. 11 attacks and anthrax cases.

The Justice Department restructuring was in the works before Sept. 11, but after the attacks, Ashcroft made terrorism the department's top priority. He reiterated today that the attacks altered the Justice Department's mission from enforcement to prevention.

Ashcroft also announced new performance standards to hold agents accountable for their work and promised improved recruitment and training for federal law enforcement.

—The Associated Press

Following Clashes, More Firefighters at WTC Site

N E W Y O R K, Nov. 8 — Trying to soothe frayed nerves, city officials have agreed to increase the number of firefighters at the World Trade Center site, and police said they expect no more arrests from last week's clash between firefighters and officers.

Five officers were injured and more than a dozen firefighters were arrested when a rally protesting the reduction in the number of firefighters at the site turned rowdy on Nov. 2. Three more were placed under arrest Wednesday after surrendering.

Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said today that investigators have completed their probe and no more arrests are expected.

The decision followed a meeting Wednesday between city, police and fire officials in which it was agreed that more firefighters would be allowed onto the site to recover remains, one of the sources said.

Citing safety concerns, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had sought to scale back the number of firefighters working at ground zero to 25, angering rank-and-file still traumatized by the loss of 343 colleagues on Sept. 11. Many of the firefighters' bodies still have not been recovered.

The number working there reportedly has been increased to 50.

On Wednesday, firefighter unions postponed a memorial service at Madison Square Garden scheduled for Nov. 18, citing the arrests.

The fire department said it requested the postponement because some family members of the firefighters who died thought it was too soon to have a memorial.

The new date was not set, but the service will not be rescheduled while Giuliani is still in office, said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Giuliani leaves office at the end of this year.

In a statement, Giuliani said: "It is a shame that the unions would cancel a memorial service and spread misinformation to the public regarding the city's efforts to recover the remains of those lost in the World Trade Center attack."

—The Associated Press

Should Social Security Files Be More Open?

W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 8 — How private is private?

The Social Security Administration is split on whether to make it easier for police to get information from its highly personal files.

The agency can share confidential information with law enforcement only in life-threatening circumstances.

Its internal investigator, the inspector general, says the FBI was delayed in getting information about the Sept. 11 hijackers.

He's asking Congress for permanent authority to help law enforcement.

But his boss disagrees.

The acting Social Security commissioner doesn't want changes in the long-established privacy safeguards — at least until the matter is thoroughly studied.

He says information on the hijackers was quickly provided to authorities.

He says the program depends on people trusting that information like medical records and tax returns will be kept confidential.

—The Associated Press

Fire Department Studies ‘Trade Center Cough’

N E W Y O R K, Nov. 8 — The New York Fire Department says it will do long-term research on the so-called "World Trade Center cough."

Many of the rescue workers at Ground Zero have reported a persistent dry cough and sore throat from breathing the dust of pulverized concrete, glass and other airborne debris.

The fire department's deputy medical officer says the cough is preventable and treatable through the increased use of respirators and medication.

About 10,000 firefighters will be monitored and undergo blood and urine tests to determine whether they were exposed to PCBs, dioxin, asbestos or other hazardous materials.

—The Associated Press

Enlisting Volunteers to Battle Terror

W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 8 — One of Indiana's U.S. Senators is seeking to expand the public service program AmeriCorps to include work on homeland defense.

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona today announced a bill seeking a fivefold increase of the 8-year-old AmeriCorps program.

The McCain-Bayh bill would increase the number of volunteers to 250,000 by 2010, with 100,000 of the new volunteers devoted to security needs, such as public-health programs and disaster relief.

Bayh says the proposal is a cost-effective way to deal with public-safety issues that have come to light since the Sept. 11 attacks.

McCain said he hopes Congress will consider the legislation early next year.

—The Associated Press