The Bush administration argued on Monday that the government can indefinitely jail immigrants in the United States and prevent them from ever challenging their detention in civilian courts. The Justice Department is claiming that the recently signed Military Commissions Act applies not only to detainees in Guantanamo Bay but also to any foreigner detained in the United States on suspicion of terrorism. The attorney Jonathan Hafetz said this means any noncitizen can be whisked off at night and be put in detention. The Justice Department also claimed on Monday that hundreds of lawsuits by prisoners at Guantanamo should be thrown out because they no longer have the right to challenge their detentions in civilian courts.
Attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a war crimes lawsuit today in Germany against outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his role in the torture of prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo. We’ll have more on the lawsuit in a few minutes.
In Iraq, universities have been ordered to be shut down after gunmen kidnapped up to 150 scientists and staff members from a government institute in Baghdad. The mass kidnapping occurred this morning when gunmen wearing interior ministry commando uniforms stormed the institute which is located beneath the ministry of higher education. Estimates of the number kidnapped varied widely from as few as 30 to as many as 150. University professors have been a frequent target of violence. Since the war began, thousands have fled the country for safety.
On Monday, at least 90 people died across Iraq. Gunmen attacked a convoy carrying Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi. He survived the assassination attempt but two of his bodyguards died.
In Washington, Senator Carl Levin said Iraq was in a low-grade civil war and that it was heading into an abyss. Levin, who is set to become the new chair of the Armed Forces Committee, reiterated his call for troop redeployment. Levin said "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves."
President Bush said he would reject any calls for setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. He spoke to the press after meeting with advisers from the Iraq Study Group.
In other news on Iraq, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to intervene in the case of Muhammad Munaf — the U.S. citizen who is facing a death sentence in Iraq. He was sentenced on charges of kidnapping three Romanian journalists. Munaf was unable to hear or challenge the evidence against him. His lawyers say the judge had been prepared to dismiss the case until two US military officials intervened and told the judge to hand him the death penalty. The Supreme Court gave no explanation for its order Monday denying Munaf’s request.
On Monday President Bush also called for the worldwide isolation of Iran until it gives up what he described as its nuclear ambitions. The president made the comment during a press conference in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Earlier in the day Ehud Olmert appeared on The Today Show and claimed that Iran will soon have nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a major address on the Middle East. He said the answer to Iraq lies not only in Iraq itself, but outside it. Blair broke with President Bush and advocated for building up a "new partnership" with Iran to help calm the violence in Iraq. He said steps must be taken throughout the Middle East.
In news from Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi is being criticized for endorsing Congressman John Murtha to become the new Majority leader in the House. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington described Murtha as one of the most unethical members of Congress in part because he recently blocked proposed changes to ethics rules.
The House has passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act despite opposition from dozens of organizations including the National Lawyers Guild, Humane Society and Natural Resources Defense Council. The bill makes it a felony for animal rights activists to engage in non-violent protests that result in businesses losing money. Legal experts say a protester could be charged with terrorism if they engaged in a sit-in that caused a business to lose profits. Congressman Dennis Kucinich said the law would have a chilling effect on non-violent protest. Kucinich said the country has to be very careful of painting everyone with a broad brush of terrorism.
In Denmark two journalists have gone on trial for publishing a prize-winning article that revealed the Danish government did not believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ahead of the war. The articles were published a year after the war started and were based on a leaked government report. This marks the first time in the history of modern Denmark that journalists have been charged with divulging state secrets. They face up to two years in prison if found guilty.
Over the weekend President Bush gave his first weekly radio address since the mid-term elections. He said the country should be proud that the elections were held even though the county is in a war.
Nobel laureate and Nigerian human rights activist, Wole Soyinka presided over a citizens’ tribunal on Sudan which charged the Sudanese president with genocide and crimes against humanity.
Soyinka told Reuters that the United Nations has not acted effectively and that the African Union is "playing footsie" with Sudan.
At the mock trial, a Sudanese man named Mohamed Elgadi testified.
Hundreds of Israeli peace activists have asked Israel’s high court to order the military to stop carrying out targeted assassinations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The petition was signed by 10 peace groups, 200 individuals and three foreign Nobel Peace Prize winners. The petitioners urged the court to make a decision immediately in light of Israel’s attack on Beit Hanun that killed 19 people, mostly women and children.
In Washington, a groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday for the new monument on the National Mall dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King. Speakers included his son, Martin Luther King III and President Clinton.