Iraq’s Human Rights Minister has announced he is opening an investigation into reports that Iraq’s new unelected Prime Minister Iyad Allawi personally shot dead six suspected members of the Iraqi resistance at a Baghdad police station just days before he became prime minister. The allegations first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. The newspaper based their report on two eyewitnesses who said Allawi used a pistol to execute six prisoners who were handcuffed and blindfolded. Allawi denied the report. The story was broken by an award-winning reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald who has since left Iraq for his own safety.
In other news from Iraq, at least nine people have died and another 50 have been wounded after a fuel tanker truck ran into a police station in Baghdad earlier today.
Over the weekend, a US attack on Fallujah killed 14 in one of the deadliest US air strikes since the so-called handover of power. The US said the attack was OK’d by Prime Minister Allawi.
Hours after the attack Allawi announced that he was lifting the US-imposed ban on the newspaper run by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.
Also on Saturday, Iraq’s Justice Minister survived an assassination attempt. But fiive others died in the attack. Meanwhile the Guardian of London is reporting that six Baghdad councilors have been assassinated since the so-called handover of power. Over the past year 61 of the city’s 750 councilors have been killed.
And the Philippines have announced today they have pulled their last troops from Iraq.
The Knight Ridder news agency is reporting that former CIA director James Woolsey personally helped a now disgraced defector connected with the Iraqi National Congress to meet with governmental officials. The defector relayed to the US a fabricated story that Iraq had biological warfare laboratories disguised as yogurt and milk trucks. The INC’s representative in Washington, Francis Brooke, also said former Pentagon official Richard Perle contacted the Bush administration on the INC’s behalf. The role of Woolsey and Perle was not addressed in the recent report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The 9/11 commission is expected to reveal later this week that at least eight of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Iran in late 2000 and early 2001 and that Iran has a history of allowing Al Qaeda members to enter and leave the country across the Afghan border. This according to a report in Time Magazine. The commission however found no evidence that Iran was aware of the 9/11 attack plans. The Commission is also expected to recommend the creation of a Cabinet-level national intelligence director to oversee all of the government’s 15 intelligence agencies.
On Friday, President Bush announced he would withhold $34 million from the UN Population Fund for a third year in a row. According to the UN, the money could have helped prevent 77,000 infant and child deaths, 800,000 induced abortions and maternal deaths as well as 2 million unwanted pregnancies. Congress member Carolyn Maloney of New York accused Bush of putting politics above the health of women. She said, ’’This is simply pandering to the right-wing mullahs of this country."
This news from Capitol Hill, the House has voted to bar any federal official from requesting that the United Nations formally observe the November presidential elections. During the discussion on the vote, the Republican-led House took the unusual move of striking a word from the Congressional Record after Democratic Congress member Corrine Brown said Republicans stole the 2000 election. Brown said to Republicans "I come from Florida, where you and others participated in what I call the United States coup d’etat. We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Over and over again after the election–when you stole the election–you came back here and said, 'Get over it.' No, we’re not going to get over it. And we want verification from the world." After Brown’s comment, the presiding officer of the House ruled that Brown’s words violated a House rule that members should not accuse other members of committing a crime. The House then voted along party lines to strike the word "stole" from the Congressional Record.
The Boston Globe is reporting the city of Boston will see an unprecedented level of video surveillance during next week’s Democratic National Convention. 30 cameras will be set up near the Fleet Center. 100 cameras will monitor buses and subways. The Coast Guard will use infrared devices and night vision cameras. Dozens of cameras will be mounted on downtown buildings. Feeds from 75 of the cameras will be piped into federal watch stations in Boston and Washington D.C. Camera operators at these remote locations will be able to zoom cameras in close enough to see facial descriptions or read license plates. While the cameras are being put in place for the Convention, city officials say they are likely there to stay.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting FBI agents have begun interviewing dozens of Muslims and Arab Americans around the country including in Virginia, Florida, New York and California. The government claims they are trying to find information about any plots to disrupt the political conventions or elections. Nihad Awad, the executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations said he was meeting with the FBI today to express his concerns about the new round of questioning.
The State Department for the first time has placed an Irish political party, the Republican Sinn Fein, on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. The party, which calls for the complete withdrawal of British troops from Ireland, legally operates in both Ireland and Britain. But it is now illegal for anyone in the United States to raise money for the party or to provide material support to the organization. The State Department ruled the party was simply an alias of the armed group, the Continuity IRA, which was already on the terrorist list.
-See related article: Ex-gunrunner fights ban on rebel Sinn Fein
A Swedish man who was held at Guantanamo Bay has announced he plans to sue the US for holding him for two and a half years without pressing charges. The man, Mehdi Ghezali, said he was interrogated almost every day and tortured. He was chained in painful positions, exposed to freezing cold, deprived of sleep and exposed to loud noises, bright lights and extreme cold.
This news from the Occupied Territories: Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei has offered to resign after a breakdown in security in Gaza and a string of high-profile kidnappings. So far Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has rejected the resignation. Arafat has also reversed his decision to appoint his cousin to be Gaza’s new security chief.
The NAACP, at its annual convention, passed an emergency resolution calling for a new trial for death row prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. This marks the first time the NAACP has demanded a new trial for Mumia.