Saddam Hussein appeared in court today in Baghdad. An Iraqi tribunal headed by Salem Chalabi will try Hussein and 11 other top Baathist officials for crimes against humanity. Hussein rejected charges of war crimes and genocide against him in a court appearance today, telling a judge "this is all theater, the real criminal is Bush." Saddam’s hands were cuffed when he was brought to the court but the shackles were removed for the arraignment, which lasted about 30 minutes. Salem Chalabi is the nephew of disgraced Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi. Salem is the law partner of the Israel Marc Zell who is a close associate with Douglas Feith one of the top backers of the Iraq invasion. Feith is the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and headed the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans.
The Army officially announced yesterday that 5,600 former soldiers will be forced out of retirement and back into active duty to fight in Iraq. The call up marks the first time since the Gulf War that the Pentagon had to tap into the Individual Ready Reserve pool.
Nearly one out of five U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. This according to a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine. In addition less than half of the soldiers who reported mental disorders have sought treatment.
The U.S. attacked sites in Falluja killing up to 15 people. Military officials said the attacked targeted a suspected hideout of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, who the US claims is a leader of the Iraqi resistance. Meanwhile in Washington, the Bush administration announced it had raised the reward for Zarqawi’s capture from $10 million to $25 million. In Baghdad, a senior finance ministry official was killed along with two others in a roadside bombing.
In other Iraq news, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez has stepped down as the top US commander in Iraq. He was replaced by a four-star general, General George Casey.
The Guardian of London is reporting that on the day after the so-called handover of power in Iraq, the U.S. military police raided a detention center being operated by the Iraqi ministry of the interior in Baghdad. At one point, the U.S. threatened to free all of the Iraqi prisoners. The incident raised new questions as to how much sovereignty the new Iraqi government actually has. The U.S. said they carried out the raid because they had received reports that Iraqi interrogators were physically abusing the detainees. The 150 prisoners had all been picked up in what was described as the first Iraqi-led anti-crime and anti-terrorism operation.
In Hong Kong today hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in a massive demonstration calling for democracy in the former British colony. The march came on the seventh anniversary of Chinese retaking control of Hong Kong. Opposition to Beijing has intensified since China ruled earlier this year that Hong Kong would not be given the right to directly choose its next leader. Organizers said the total number of protesters topped 350,000 despite intense heat.
A new report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has found the scope and gravity of Israeli human rights violations in the Palestinian territories has reached unprecedented levels. The report cites the killings of innocent Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories as well as the construction of the massive separation wall through the West Bank. The human rights group was most critical of the Israel’s military invasion of Rafah in May. The report read "Soldiers opened fire indiscriminately, prevented the evacuation of the injured, killed dozens of people, some of whom were armed, but many more of whom were innocent children, women and men."
The Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning to airport security officials to examine all Pakistanis arriving at key US airports to check if they have any visible injuries that might suggest they trained at a Pakistani terror camp. The passengers will be checked for rope burns, unusual bruises or scars. It is the first such warning that specifically targeted passengers from one country. The bulletin was sent to Customs inspectors at international airports in Washington, New York, Newark, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.