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Top State Dept Official Accuses Bolton Of Abusing Authority

John Bolton — President Bush’s nominee to be the country’s ambassador to the United Nations — was accused Tuesday of repeatedly abusing his power, intimidating intelligence analysts, and damaging the integrity of the State Department. The accusations came from Carl Ford, the State Department’s former director of intelligence and research. Ford told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bolton was a "kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy" who "abuses his authority with little people." Ford charged that in 2002, Bolton directed an abusive tirade at analyst Christian Westermann for challenging Bolton’s assertion that Cuba was developing biological and chemical weapons. Bolton later tried to have Westermann fired.

Negroponte Vows to Assert Authority of Overseeing Intel Agencies

Meanwhile the Senate Intelligence Committee opened hearings Tuesday on the nomination of John Negroponte to become the country’s first national intelligence director. If confirmed, Negroponte will oversee some 15 intelligence agencies and give the president’s daily intelligence briefing. During the hearing Negroponte vowed to "push the envelope" in asserting his authority overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies. He said the CIA would report to him and that he would assert control over the National Security Agency and other agencies. Negroponte is a career diplomat who has had five ambassadorships over the last forty years. On Tuesday he came under criticism for his tenure as ambassador to Honduras during the early 1980s. Documents surfaced this week that shed new light on how Negroponte supported the arm the contra rebels in Nicaragua to overthrow the Sandinista government. We’ll have more on the Bolton and Negroponte hearings in a few minutes.

Al Jazeera: U.S. Bombing In Iraq Kills 20

In Iraq, Al Jazeera is reporting that U.S. airstrikes near the city al-Qaim have killed 20 Iraqis and injured 22 more. Among the dead were reportedly seven children, six women and three old men.

12 Iraqi Guardsman Killed in Roadside Bombing

Near Kirkuk 12 members of the Iraqi National Guard have died in a roadside bombing. At the time they were dismantling what turned out to a be decoy bomb.

Rumsfeld: ``We Don’t Have an Exit Strategy, We Have a Victory Strategy"

Meanwhile Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during his visit to Baghdad that the U.S. has no timetable for withdrawing its forces from Iraq. He said ``We don’t have an exit strategy, we have a victory strategy."

Notorious Cuban Militant Seeks Political Asylum in U.S.

One of the most notorious militant Cuban exiles applied Tuesday for political asylum in the United States. Luis Posada Carriles is a 77-year-old former CIA operative who was trained by the US Army at Fort Benning in Georgia. He has been trying to violently overthrow Fidel Castro’s government for four decades. Three weeks ago he entered the United States after years of hiding in Central America and the Caribbean. Posada has been connected to the 1976 downing of a civilian airliner that killed 73 passengers; a series of 1997 bombings of hotels, restaurants, and discotheques in Havana that killed an Italian tourist; and a plot to assassinate Castro five years ago. In 1998 Posada told the New York Times "The C.I.A. taught us everything... They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage." On Tuesday Democratic Congressman William Delahunt of Massachusetts called for a federal investigation into how Posada entered the country. He also called for Posada to be arrested and deported. Delahunt said that if the U.S. facilitated Posada’s entry into the country it would "obliterate America’s credibility in the war on terrorism." Delahunt said that if the U.S. grants Posada asylum it would suggest "that we share the views of those who support al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents that 'one man's terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.’ "

Justice Department Indicts 3 UK Nationals

The Justice Department has indicted three British nationals in an alleged plot to attack financial buildings on the East Coast. They were charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support and resources to terrorists, and conspiring to damage and destroy buildings. The three men have been in British custody since last summer.

Unions Call on House to Reject Bankruptcy Bill

A coalition of unions and public interest groups are meeting today to call on the House of Representatives to reject overhauling the nation’s bankruptcy laws. Groups include the AFL-CIO, ACORN, the National Organization for Women and Public Citizen. The Senate has already approved rewriting the nation’s bankruptcy laws; the House is expected to vote on the measure as early as this week. Congressman Jim McDermott assailed the bill on Tuesday describing it as the Credit Card Company Enslavement Act of 2005. A new coalition called DebtSlavery is organizing rallies today in 14 cities across the country to protest the legislation.

FDA Panel Votes to Keep Restrictions on Sale of Silicone Breast Implants

In other news from Washington, a FDA advisory panel voted five to four on Tuesday to keep restrictions on the sale of silicone breast implants.

LexisNexis Estimates Personal Info on 310,000 Stolen

In privacy news, the data collection company LexisNexis is now estimating 310,000 Americans had their personal data stolen after the company’s computer systems were hacked. The figure is ten times higher than the company’s original estimate. LexisNexis collects and stores detailed personal information about nearly every person in the country. Meanwhile Tufts University has sent a letter to about 100,000 alumni warning them that their personal information may have been stolen from a computer database used for fundraising.

Protesters Target Caterpillar For Bulldozer Sales to Israel

In Chicago, protesters plan to gather today outside the shareholders meeting of bulldozer manufacturer Caterpillar. Solidarity protests are also scheduled in 40 cities around the world. The activists — led by the Stop Cat Coalition — are calling on Caterpillar to stop selling bulldozers to the Israeli military. Israel has used the bulldozers to level thousands of homes owned by Palestinians. Two years ago U.S. activist Rachel Corrie died after being run over by a Caterpillar-manufactured bulldozer. Last month Corrie’s family filed a lawsuit against Caterpillar alleging that the company broke international law by providing specially designed bulldozers to the Israeli military with full knowledge that the equipment would be used to demolish homes and endanger civilians. Inside today’s meeting, dissident shareholders are expected to introduce a resolution calling on the company to investigate whether its sale of bulldozers to Israel violates its own Worldwide Code of Business Conduct.

NYC Teacher Threatens to Treat Haitian Students "Like Animals

In New York, the city school system has transferred an assistant principal accused of humiliating a group of Haitian students. The administrator — Nancy Miller — reportedly ordered more than a dozen Haitian students to sit on the floor during lunchtime and eat chicken and rice with their bare hands. Miller reportedly screamed at the students saying "In Haiti they treat you like animals and I will treat you the same way here." After the incident, students say school administrators tried to bribe and coerce them into changing their story. Parents from the Haitian community have called on the school system to fire Miller and the school’s chief principal. Although the incident occurred on March 16, Miller remained at the school until Tuesday. Her transfer came as dozens of parents picketed outside the school.

Secret Service Visits Chicago Art Gallery Over Bush Artwork

In Chicago, the Secret Service sent two agents last week to the opening of art exhibit at a school-run gallery at Columbia College. The target of the investigation was a piece titled Patriot Act. It depicts a sheet of mock postage stamps that show President Bush with a gun pointed at his head. Last spring, Secret Service agents in Washington state questioned a high school student about anti-war drawings he did for an art class. One drawing depicted Bush’s head on a stick.

New York State Lawmakers Reject Death Penalty

And in Albany New York, Democratic state lawmakers blocked a Republican move to reinstate the death penalty in the state.

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