National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice testified in public and under oath yesterday before the independent panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.
In nearly three hours in the witness chair, Rice stuck to the White House line and insisted that there was "no silver bullet" that could have prevented 9/11. She defended the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism citing vague intelligence as well as "structural" problems with counter-terrorism efforts and inter-agency intelligence sharing.
In Iraq, battles continued to rage across the country as the US seeks to regain control of the country on this the first anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. A year ago today television networks broadcast images of a statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down in Baghdad. But a year later war ravages on. Earlier today a US convoy of military vehicles and fuel tankers came under attack west of Baghdad. Witnesses said nine people were killed.
Members of the Iraqi resistance have taken three Japanese hostages and have threatened to burn them alive unless Japan withdraws from Iraq. A Syrian-born Canadian and two Palestinians are also being held. Japan has refused to pull its troops. But in Tokyo at least 600 people rallied in the streets to demand the Japanese troops return home.
U.S. Ceasefire In Fallujah Lasts 90 Minutes
The U.S. announced a ceasefire earlier today in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah but it appears the suspension of fighting only lasted 90 minutes. This according to Agence France Press. Over the past five days US forces have killed an estimated 300 Iraqis and wounded 400. The U.S. had totally sealed off the city and blocked all incoming traffic. Sunnis and Shiites from across Iraq joined together to send aid to Fallujah but the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported the U.S. turned away many aid vehicles carrying food, water and medicine.
Several members of the U.S.-appointed governing council criticized the US offensive in Fallujah. Adnan Pachachi said "These operations were a mass punishment for the people of Fallujah. It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal."
Meanwhile another member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council admitted publicly that the so-called governing council essentially had no say in how the US attempted to put down the Iraqi resistance.
Thursday also saw some shakeups in the fledgling Iraqi government.
Iraq’s Interior Minister who was in charge of the country’s police was forced to resign. It was unclear why. But he was in charge of the Iraqi police force which has been criticized by the US for abandoning their posts when faced with attacks by the Iraqi resistance.
The Minister for Human Rights in Iraq, appointed by the American-appointed Interim Governing Council, has also resigned. The minister said he was leaving his position "in protest at the practices of the Americans."
And in the southern city of Kut the U.S. retook control of the city from followers of the Shiite leader Sadr. The city fell after Ukrainian troops defending the city abandonded their base on Wednesday.
In Afghanistan Thursday a militia run by powerful warlord’s seized control of the provincial capital of Maymana forcing the governor to flee. The Associated Press reports this could become the biggest challenge yet to the U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai.
In Pennsylvania a federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of the Palestinian New York activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti who had been jailed since April 2002 even though he has never been charged with a crime. Abdel-Muhti was a prominent Palestinian activist in the New York area and could often be heard on Pacifica station WBAI.
President Bush’s campaign Chairman Marc Racicot visited Florida Wednesday and spoke about the 2000 election. While many supporters of Al Gore and others remember Florida as the place where the vote was stolen, Racicot sees it a bit differently. He said, So much happened and there was so much effort by so many people. To us what happened in Florida was a triumph in democracy. It wasn’t a blemish." He went on to say "Whenever I think of Florida or come back here, it rekindles within me almost a sense of gratitude about the capacity for this country to endure."
A Washington state-based company that manufactures and sells bags around the world is in the headlines today. The company, Tom Bihn, is now selling bags with an inside label that carries instructions on washing and caring for the bags. Because the bags are sold in Canada, the instructions are also printed in French. The French version, however, contains an additional phrase that translated into English means. "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We didn’t vote for him."