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CIA Officers Warn of Civil War in Iraq

CIA officers in Iraq have warned the Bush administration that a civil war may break out in Iraq. According to the Knight Ridder news agency, the officers delivered this verbal warning earlier this week. The situation was discussed by Bush, his top national security aides and Paul Bremer who is heading up the U.S. occupation. One senior official told Knight Ridder that regional experts in the State Department and National Security Council agree with the assessment which is far bleaker than anything the administration is publicly discussing. One intelligence officer said "Both the Shiites and the Kurds think that now’s their time. They think that if they don’t get what they want now, they’ll probably never get it. Both of them feel they’ve been betrayed by the United States before."

US Army Chief: Wars Are Useful

The head of the U.S. army, General Peter Schoomaker, has said the so-called war on terrorism has benefited the U.S. army by making it more focused and giving it some oomph. He told the Associated Press "There is a huge silver lining in this cloud. War is a tremendous focus... Now we have this focusing opportunity, and we have the fact that [terrorists] have actually attacked our homeland, which gives it some oomph." Schoomaker said it was no use having an army that did nothing but train. He said "There’s got to be a certain appetite for what the hell we exist for."

Maher Arar: Guilt By Association

The Toronto Globe and Mail is reporting that the only reason the U.S. detained and jailed Canadian citizen Maher Arar in 2002 was that he was an acquaintance of two men under investigation for ties to terrorist organizations. Arar was detained during a stopover in New York. He was then secretly sent to Syria where he was jailed for a year. On Thursday Arar filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government. He alleges that the U.S. sent him to Syria with foreknowledge that he would likely be tortured. The Globe and Mail obtained U.S. documents that showed the regional director of the INS made the determination that Arar was a member of Al Qaeda after he admitted he knew two suspected terrorists.

CIA Leak Case Grand Jury Starts

Time Magazine is reporting a grand jury began hearing testimony on Wednesday in the investigation of who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak. Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Plame’s identity was leaked shortly after Wilson came forward questioning claims by President Bush about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Dems Question Cheney-Scalia Hunting Trip

Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy and Joseph Lieberman have written to Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist to question the appropriateness of Justice Antonin Scalia spending several days recently with Vice President Dick Cheney duck hunting. Their trip comes at a time that the court is deciding whether to force Cheney to open up records from his energy task force. The Senators asked Rehnquist to send them information on the court’s rules about justices recusing themselves from cases where "their impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

Ex GOP Rep. Gets 100 Days in Prison For Fatal Accident

In South Dakota former Republican Congressman and governor William Janklow was sentenced Thursday to 100 days in jail for causing a fatal car accident in August. He had faced a maximum of 11 years in jail.

U.S. Gov’t Oks Alaskan Oil Exploration

Interior Secretary Gale Norton has approved a plan to open nearly 9 million acres of wilderness area on Alaska’s North Slope to oil exploration.

Los Angeles Votes Against Patriot Act

The Los Angeles’ city council voted 9 to 2 to pass a resolution Tuesday night to support legislation that would repeal parts of the USA Patriot Act.More than 235 communities have now passed resolutions condemning the Patriot Act.

Senate Approves Omnibus Spending Bill

The Senate voted 65 to 28 to approve a $328 billion omnibus spending bill after Democrats abandoned a fight to take out several controversial provisions regarding overtime, the nation’s media laws and gun records. One provision would allow the Bush administration to rewrite the nation’s overtime laws that could strip up to 8 million workers of overtime pay. Another part of the bill would require federal officials to destroy records on gun purchases within 24 hours of the purchase. The current law requires the records be kept for 90 days. A third provision would relax media ownership laws to allow major networks to own more tv stations.

Halliburton Employees Got $6M Kickback

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Halliburton is admitting to the Pentagon that two of its employees received kickbacks worth up to $6 million from a Kuwaiti company that received an Iraq reconstruction subcontract.

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