The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei is warning no military action should be taken against Iran and that threats of war are premature and counterproductive. On Sunday, France warned that it was preparing for a possible war against Iran, and The Telegraph of London reported that the Pentagon has developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran. ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said there is no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iran.
Mohamed ElBaradei: "I repeated that we have not seen any undeclared facilities operating in Iran, we have not seen any concrete evidence that the Iran program is being weaponized. We have not received any information to that effect. So, I haven’t heard any other information to the contrary. So while we’re still concerned about the nature of the Iranian program, we should not — I do not believe, at this stage, that we are facing a clear and present danger that requires that we go beyond diplomacy."
ElBaradei also urged the world to remember what happened in Iraq before considering any similar action against Tehran.
A year ago the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency accused the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee of issuing a misleading and erroneous report on Iran's nuclear program. The report claimed Iran had enriched uranium to weapons-grade level when the IAEA had only found small quantities of enrichment at far lower levels.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this headline incorrectly stated the IAEA had sent a more recent letter accusing congressional Democrats of "drafting a misleading and erroneous report on Iran’s nuclear program." The IAEA sent the letter on September 12, 2006, and addressed it to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich), then chair of the House Intelligence Committee. The Republican majority of the committee released the report on Iran without taking a vote or discussing it before the full committee. Committee member Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) did not have a role in drafting the report and was publicly critical of its findings. At the time Holt said the Hoekstra report was "clearly not prepared in a manner that we can rely on."]
President Bush nominated retired federal judge Michael Mukasey on Monday to replace Alberto Gonzales as the nation’s 81st attorney general.
President Bush: "Judge Mukasey is clear-eyed about the threat our nation faces. As a judge and a private lawyer, he’s written on matters of constitutional law and national security. He knows what it takes to fight this war effectively, and he knows how to do it in a manner that is consistent with our laws and our Constitution."
President Bush made the announcement in the Rose Garden while standing next to Michael Mukasey.
Michael Mukasey: "The task of helping to protect our security, which the Justice Department shares with the rest of our government, is not the only task before us. The Justice Department must also protect the safety of our children, the commerce that assures our prosperity, and the rights and liberties that define us as a nation. I look forward to meeting with members of Congress in the days ahead and, if confirmed, to working with Congress to meet our nation’s challenges."
President Bush called on the Senate to confirm Mukasey by October 8th. Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Charles Schumer of New York have vowed to delay the confirmation unless the White House turns over documents about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys and the Bush administration’s secret domestic wiretapping program.
The Iraqi government has announced it will review the status of all private security companies working in the country following a shootout on Sunday involving employees from the company Blackwater that left up to 11 civilians dead. On Monday, Iraq’s Interior Ministry announced that it had revoked Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq. The State Department is now attempting to prevent the Iraqi government from expelling Blackwater. On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and vowed the U.S. would investigate the fatal shooting. While Iraqis blamed Blackwater for the civilian deaths, the company said it acted appropriately "in response to a hostile attack" by armed insurgents. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said he had no information about any Iraqi laws Blackwater or its employees might be subject to. We’ll have more on Blackwater after headlines.
On Monday, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan said the removal of Saddam Hussein had been "essential" to secure world oil supplies. Greenspan said that had the U.S. not gone to war in Iraq, the cost of oil would be much higher.
Reporter: "If the war in Iraq was all about oil, some people say, then why are we facing $80 a gallon right — a barrel right now? You make the point that if we hadn’t gone to war, we might be facing $130, $140 a barrel. Correct?"
Alan Greenspan: "Correct."
Reporter: "And you think that would have been a real possibility?"
Greenspan: "Absolutely. The way I read Saddam, that’s where he was going."
In his newly published memoirs, Greenspan writes: "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
In campaign news, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has unveiled her proposal to expand health insurance to the 47 million uninsured Americans. Clinton said she would require that all families purchase health insurance and offer them a range of private plans as well as a public option similar to Medicare, which would also continue. The Washington Post reports Clinton’s $110 billion plan is similar to proposals offered by Sen. Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards. Clinton’s new plan would expand government funding for programs for low-income adults and children, and it would require employers to either insure their workers or pay a tax. Her proposal would also require insurers to offer healthcare coverage to any person who applies for it.
Meanwhile, Congressman Dennis Kucinich has accused Democratic Party leaders in Iowa of excluding him from two presidential events this week. On Sunday, six of the Democratic candidates were invited to speak to over 12,000 Democratic voters at Senator Tom Harkin’s steak fry. But Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel were not invited. They also weren’t invited to a recent Democratic presidential forum in Davenport, Iowa. Kucinich said: "When Party leaders and their allies pre-select which candidates they will allow the voters to hear, it’s a disservice to the voters. Iowans deserve better than a rigged game."
Two young climate change activists are making a 17,000-mile trek from the North Pole to the South Pole to highlight how the world is changing through global warming. So far, they’ve cycled, skied, sailed and walked. On Friday, James Hooper and Rob Gauntlett crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on bicycles. The expedition took off at the Geomagnetic North Pole on April 8. This is 19-year-old James Hooper.
James Hooper: "We’ve had some amazing reactions. I mean, the whole point of the trip is to try and involve as many people as possible, to try and encourage people to understand about global warming. In the Arctic, the sea ice has thinned by 50 percent in the last 20 years, and in area, it’s actually shrunk by about 30 to 40 percent in the last 10 years. So, I mean, there’s massive changes going on, and we want to make people aware of those."