The Justice Department has been attempting to keep secret an internal report that harshly criticizes the department’s efforts to maintain a diverse workplace. The Department, which is headed by John Ashcroft, originally posted the 186-page report on its website two weeks ago but about half of the pages were blacked out. Now a computer specialist has been able to manipulate the online document in order to read the blacked out sections and it reveals the department faces many problems. The censored part of the report concluded "The department does face significant diversity issues... Minorities are significantly more likely than white to cite stereotyping, harassment and racial tension as characteristics of the work climate." The entire report can be read at the website memoryhole.org
A Colorado-based soldier in Iraq may face a prison sentence for complaining to his superior after he witnessed the mangled body of an Iraqi man. The soldier, Sgt. Georg Porgany, told his superior that he was heading toward a nervous breakdown after what he witnessed. When Porgany asked for help one of his superiors told him to "get his head out of his ass and get with the program." The military has now responded by charging the man with "cowardice" and for refusing to perform his duties. If Porgany is convicted in a court martial he could face a prison term and a dishonorable discharge.
A new report by the Center for Public Integrity has found that the main beneficiaries of the $8 billion Iraq reconstruction contracts were major donors to President Bush’s election campaign and nearly all of the top 10 contractors had close ties to Washington’s political establishment. Over the past decade President Bush has received more than $500,000 in campaign donations from the 70 companies that have won reconstruction contracts. No other politician in the country received more money from these companies. The biggest windfall so far has gone to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root which has received $2.3 billion from the government so far. Halliburton’s former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney. Bechtel is second having received just over one billion dollars in Iraq contracts.
The New York Times is reporting that Saddam Hussein may be helping coordinate and direct attacks against the U.S. and Iraqis who are collaborating with the occupying rulers. Senior U.S. officials say uncorroborated intelligences suggests Hussein may be directing the attacks from site near his hometown of Tikrit. Until now the Bush administration has portrayed Hussein to be on the run and no longer of importance.
Meanwhile U.S. soldiers have sealed off the village of Uja near Tikrit and established checkpoints along the town’s perimeter. The U.S. is requiring that all adults register for identity cards. No one will be allowed to leave or enter the village without a registration card. U.S. officials said many former Baathist members live in the village. In Baghdad, a bomb last night set portions of the Old City ablaze killing two people. And in Falluja, Iraqis set the governor’s office building and two police cars on fire.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives voted 298-121 to back the White House’s request for an $87 billion Iraq reconstruction package.
During a speech at Georgetown University, US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was heckled by audience members of his role in the Iraq invasion and occupation. One woman shouted "We hate your policies! Killing innocents is not the solution but rather the problem. Al Jazeera reported Wolfowitz was visibly shaken by the criticism. He responded back: "I have to (infer) you’d be happier if Saddam Hussein was still in power."
A new report commissioned by the European Commission has found that over half of Europeans think that Israel presents the biggest threat to world peace. The same poll found that Europeans felt that the United States were one of five main countries who led to world instability. The others were Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
A top Pentagon prosecutor has announced the first military tribunal would soon be convened to try an alleged member of Al Qaeda. President Bush has already designated six detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay as eligible for the tribunal.
In economic news, the nation’s economy grew at a rate of 7.2 percent between July and October. It was the biggest quarter gain in 19 years. But the Washington Post reports that despite the economic growth no new jobs were created during the same time span.
The Food and Drug Administration is set to release a report today that concludes food from cloned farm animals is safe to eat. A representative from the Consumer Federation of America responded to the report by saying, "What a perfect time for the FDA to put out a report on cloning, on Halloween. Most Americans find it pretty scary."
In the Senate, Democrats blocked the nomination of Mississippi judge Charles Pickering to the federal appeals court. His nomination has been widely criticized by civil rights groups. From the bench, Pickering once advocated for the reduction of a sentence for a man who was convicted of burning a cross near the home of an interracial couple.