In New York, a State Supreme Court Judge has ruled the city of New York can ban the anti-war group United for Peace and Justice from rolling a massive protest in Central Park on the eve of the Republican National Convention. United for Peace and Justice first applied for a rally permit over 14 months ago. The group has announced it will still hold a massive march on Sunday past Madison Square Garden that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of protesters. Last night the group met with police and finalized the march route. Today United for Peace and Justice will officially announce the march will end in Union Square. There will be no organized post-march rally.
In Iraq, the Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has reportedly arrived in the holy city of Najaf after traveling with over 10,000 supporters from Basra. Upon Sistani’s arrival, Najaf’s governor announced a 24-hour ceasefire. In Najaf, Sistani is expected to call for all sides to put down their arms. A close associate to the ayatollah said he plans to go to the holy Imam Ali shrine, pray and receive the keys to the shrine from backers of the Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr.
In Kufa, at least 27 people have died in an attack on a mosque. The Iraqis killed were gathering at the mosque for a peaceful protest to end the violence in Najaf. Another 20 people were shot dead in Kufa. It is not clear who was responsible for the attacks.
CNN reports Iraqi police rounded up 50 journalists at gunpoint last night from their hotel. The Washington Post reports police beat some of the reporters and fired assault rifles in the lobby The journalists were taken to the local police station and berated for their coverage of Najaf. Police accused them of paying too much attention to Moqtada al Sadr and not enough to the Iraqi police. When the journalists returned to their rooms, CNN reports they found many of their rooms had been ransacked and money had been stolen.
For the first time, a U.S. Army general has admitted that U.S. forces tortured Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison Army Major General George Fay told a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday "It’s a harsh word, and in some instances, unfortunately, I think it was appropriate here. There were a few instances where torture was being used." Yesterday Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony Jones released a 143-page report that found military intelligence soldiers played a major role in directing and carrying out the abuse on Iraqis. The report recommended that the Pentagon punish five military intelligence officers and 29 military intelligence soldiers at Abu Ghraib. Six employees from CACI International and Titan were also referred for prosecution. The report criticized the CIA for holding at least eight prisoners from the Red Cross. According to the report, one detainee was kept for four months in a three by six foot cell that didn’t have a window, latrine or water tap, or bedding. -
On the campaign front, a chief attorney for the Bush-Cheney campaign resigned yesterday less than 24 hours after it was revealed that he was also providing legal advice to a team of Vietnam veterans who claimed John Kerry has fabricated his war record. Benjamin Ginsberg’s resignation came as the Bush administration continued to charge it had no ties to the group known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Meanwhile Democrats yesterday released a new ad calling on Attorney General John Ashcroft to open a criminal investigation into illegal coordination between the Bush campaign and the veterans group. A manager of the Kerry-Edwards campaign responded by saying, "Now we know why George Bush refuses to specifically condemn these false ads. People deeply involved in his own campaign are behind them, from paying for them, to appearing in them, to providing legal advice, to coordinating a negative strategy to divert the public away from issues like jobs, health care and the mess in Iraq, the real concerns of the American people." And former Senator Max Cleland, a triple amputee from wounds received in the Vietnam War, traveled to Crawford Texas and attempted to give President Bush a letter from nine senators calling on him to condemn the tv ads.
Russian investigators said yesterday that there is still no evidence that terrorists brought down two passenger jets that crashed almost simultaneously on Tuesday night, killing all 89 people aboard. Authorities did not rule out terrorism, but announced they are opening a criminal investigation into possible negligence.
The father of U.S. marine set fire to the government van that three Marines drove to his house in Hollywood, Florida to inform him of that his 20-year-old son had died in Iraq. The man, Carlos Arredondo, suffered second degree burns over half of his body and is now in the hospital. No one else was injured. Alexander’s step mother Melida said QUOTE "My husband knew that his firstborn son had been killed, and my husband did not take the news well." His son, Alexander Arredondo was killed in combat in Najaf. Nearly 1,000 U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq.