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The editors of the Washington Post have accused the Bush administration of committing war crimes in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. The paper charges that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has all but lied when he claimed the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was an isolated event carried out by low-ranking reservists. Citing the recently released government documents by the ACLU, the Post editors write "The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false." The newly released documents catalog the systematic abuse of detainees including beatings, chokings, prolonged sleep deprivation and humiliations such as being wrapped in an Israeli flag. Mock executions and torture by electric shock were also carried out. The editors at the Post write "the documents also confirm that interrogators at Guantanamo believed they were following orders from Mr. Rumsfeld."
Donald Rumsfeld Rumseld is also coming under criticism for failing to protect US soldiers inside their military bases in Iraq. Military investigators said Wednesday they believe a suicide bomber set off the explosion inside the military base in Mosul that killed 22 people including 18 Americans. The explosion went off inside a mess hall tent during lunchtime. . The military is still investigating how the attacker gained access to the base. The group, Ansar al-Sunna, claimed the attack was carried out by bomber was a local Iraqi resident that worked for months inside. However, military contractor Halliburton denied any local Iraqis worked at the base. This marks the first time a suicide bomber managed to infiltrate a US military base in Iraq.
The Journal of the American Medical Association has issued a new study showing that at least 18 US troops in Iraq have developed a rare type of pneumonia. The rare disease known as Acute eosinophilic pneumonia causes fever, respiratory failure and an infiltration of the lungs. It has killed at least two soldiers.
Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik announced Wednesday that he was resigning from Rudolph Giuliani’s company Giuliani Partners. Kerik’s personal and work history has been under intense scrutiny over the past weeks–ever since he was nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security. Allegations have arisen about his ties to the mob, how he made millions working for private security companies, his work in Iraq and his personal life. Kerik said Wednesday, "I am confident I will be vindicated of any allegations of wrongdoing."
On Thursday, the Bush administration announced a new set of rules to govern the management of the country’s 192 million acres of forest that will open up the public forests to more logging as well as gas and oil development. The new rules give economic activity equal priority with preserving the ecological health of the forests in making management decisions. The plan was quickly attacked by environmentalists and former public officials including Jim Lyons, who oversaw the Forest Service as Agriculture undersecretary during the Clinton administration. Lyons said, "This is the most dramatic change in national forest management policy since passage of the 1976 National Forest Management Act. It is really a clandestine effort in my mind to subvert much of what the national forests stand for." According to the Los Angeles Times, the new plan contains two major revisions to forest planning regulations. The first drops the 25-year-old requirement that managers prepare environmental impact statements when they develop or revise management plans for individual national forests. The second change drops what is widely considered to be the Forest Services’ most important wildlife protection–it is a mandate to preserve the natural fish and wildlife habitat in national forests. Mike Anderson of the Wilderness Society said, "I’m very fearful that we’ve just lost the foundation for the protection of old-growth forests and wildlife that has protected the national forests for the last 20 years."
In news from Capitol Hill, Senate Republican leaders have appointed two of Congress’s most outspoken opponents of abortion to the Senate Judiciary Committee. As members of the committee Sen. Sam Brownback and Sen.-elect Tom Coburn will play a key role in conducting hearings for future Supreme Court nominees.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that six of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies have issued an advisory to its staff to be on the look out for a "scruffy guy in baseball cap." At least that’s how Pfizer described the filmmaker Michael Moore. The Academy Award winning filmmaker is working on a new documentary examining the workings of the drug industry, insurance companies and the Food and Drug Administration. Moore’s film is tentatively titled "Sicko."
With President Bush’s inauguration less than a month away, the White House is busy raising tens of millions of dollars to conduct what is expected to be the most expensive inauguration in history. Major donors include ExxonMobil, military contractor Northrop Grumman, the Nuclear Energy Institute, Occidental Petroleum and United Technologies, tobacco giant Philip Morris and Richard Kinder, the former president of Enron.
The lead writer of a United Nations report on freedom in the Arab world has said the United States was threatening to cut off funds to a U.N. agency if the study is released. Part of the report criticizes the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the activities of its ally, Israel in the Palestinian territories. Egyptian social scientist Nader Fergani wrote the report for the U.N. Development Program. The program could lose $100 million if the Bush administration cut off funding.
Russian Gov’t Takes Control of Yukos Oil Firm
In business news, the state-owned Russian oil company has acquired the once-privately owned oil giant Yukos. The move effectively nationalizes one of Russia’s largest oil production units. Earlier this week, the oil production unit of Yukos was put up for a bid. A mysterious company acquired it for $9.3 billion. Then on Thursday the state-owned company Rosneft bought the front company that had purchased Yukos.
And in news from Hollywood, Universal Pictures has announced it will produce a new film called the Battle for Falluja starring Harrison Ford. Ford is best known for his role as Indiana Jones and Hans Solo in the Star Wars series. The Guardian of London reports, "The film promises to depict the story from the point of view of US soldiers and politicians." Over the past year the US has destroyed much of the Sunni city and killed hundreds of civilians. While some citizens of Fallujah began returning home today, most residents are still living as refugees following the latest US assault.