The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz is reporting the International Court of Justice will rule today that Israel must tear down the 425-mile wall that stretches through much of the West Bank. According to documents obtained by the paper, the court will also rule Israel must pay compensation to Palestinians who have lost land because of the construction of the wall. Fourteen out of 15 judges voted against the security wall. The sole backer of the wall was U.S. Judge Thomas Buerghenthal. We’ll have more on this in a few minutes.
The Republican-backed House voted Thursday to preserve a provision of the Patriot Act that allows the government to secretly subpoena information about citizen’s reading habits at libraries and book stores. President Bush had threatened to veto any rollback in the Patriot Act. As the House’s normal 15-minute time limit on votes expired, the House appeared to be set to rewrite portions of the Patriot Act to protect the privacy of library patrons. But the Republican leadership kept the vote open for an additional 20 minutes. Democratic legislators chanted "Shame Shame Shame" as Republicans were seen being pressured to switch their votes. By the end 10 Republicans did just that. And when the vote was finally tallied the count was 210 to 210. Since a majority was needed, the effort to revise the Patriot Act failed. Republican Congressman C.L. Butch Otter of Idaho said QUOTE "You win some, and some get stolen." Cotter had co-sponsored the change in the Patriot Act with Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The Associated Press is reporting the U.S. military is now admitting that the Iraqi resistance is far larger than it had previously estimated. Some military officials said the resistance now has so much popular support among Iraqis that it can no longer be militarily defeated. For months the U.S. has put the size of the Iraqi resistance at about 5,000 members. Now estimates are closer to 20,000. And the resistance appears to be almost entirely Iraqi-based. USA Today is reporting just 2 percent of the nearly 6,000 detainees in Iraq are suspected of being foreign fighters.
The Senate intelligence committee is preparing to issue its 450-page report today on the failures of the US intelligence community in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. The report will strongly criticize the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine said "It is a stunning indictment of the status quo that should sound the alarm for major structural reform." The report however does not examine whether the White House politicized the intelligence to make a case for war.
The Pentagon is claiming it inadvertently destroyed military records from more than 30 years ago that could have definitively determined whether George W. Bush fulfilled his duty in the Texas Air National Guard. Questions have loomed for the past five years over whether Bush skipped out on his commitment during periods of 1972 and 1973. Yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Request the Pentagon said for the first time that the microfilm containing Bush’s payroll records from the disputed period was ruined in 1996 or 1997 during an attempt to salvage deteriorating microfilm. Some journalists expressed skepticism about the Pentagon’s claim. James Moore, who wrote "Bush’s War For Re-Election" said, "Those are records we’ve all been interested in. I think it’s curious that the microfiche could resolve what days Mr. Bush worked and what days he was paid, and suddenly that is gone."
For the fourth year in a row President Bush has declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP’s annual convention. He is set to become the first president since Herbert Hoover not to speak at an NAACP convention during his first term in office.
A federal judge in Florida ruled yesterday that a Christian fundamentalist who plotted to fire bomb abortion clinics, gay bars and liberal churches should not be considered a terrorist. The judge sentenced the man to just five years in prison. The prosecution had asked the judge to sentence Stephen John Jordi, a former Army Ranger, to seven to 10 years. In February Jordi plead guilty to attempted arson of an abortion clinic. The man had told an informant that he had plans to carry out a string of bombings over the next 30 to 40 years. On the day of his arrest he was carrying gasoline cans, flares, starter fluid and propane tanks.
The House voted yesterday to block the Bush administration from enforcing new rules on Cuba that ban the personal shipment of clothing, seeds and other items to the island. The rules also place new restriction on travel to Cuba. 46 Republicans joined with Democrats to pass the measure. Republican Congressman Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri said, "The Cuban people have experienced enough oppression. Let us not fund policies that cut them off from their families, intensifying their hardship."
The federal government has recalled 150 million pieces of toy jewelry sold in gumball machines because the jewelry contains enough lead to poison children. It is believe to be the largest product recall in U.S. history.
The Florida Division of Elections has done an about-face and decided it will allow voting by nearly 2,500 citizens whose restored voting rights had been threatened with revocation. The former felons — many of them African American Democrats — had been wrongly included on a state list of voters to be purged.