President Bush says he’s agreed to boost Polish military aid in return for Poland’s cooperation in hosting part of a US missile shield. Appearing with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk Monday, Bush committed to reaching a final agreement before leaving office.
President Bush: "Well, I think there’s a commitment to a system that respects Polish sovereignty, that will ensure that the people of Poland will, you know, not be subjected to any undue security risks, that the system is necessary to
deal with the realities of the threats. Obviously there’s a lot of work to do, because many times, you know, a strategy on paper is a little different from the details. And so our experts are working through the system to make sure that, you know, the people of Poland are comfortable with the idea."
Poland would host at least ten missiles as part of the deal. Critics say the US is pushing the missile system as a first-strike weapon against Iran. Public opinion polls continue to show majority opposition in both Poland and the Czech Republic, the other planned host.
Here in New York, Governor Eliot Spitzer’s political career is in jeopardy following the disclosure he was a client of a high-end prostitution ring. Authorities say Spitzer was caught in a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington hotel last month. On Monday, Spitzer issued a brief apology at his Manhattan office.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer: “I’ve acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and that violates my or any sense of right and wrong. I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better. I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good and doing what is best for the state of New York. But I’ve disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected
of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."
Spitzer didn’t address the allegations directly or say if he would step down. He has not been charged with any crime but could face prosecution for money laundering and soliciting prostitution.
On the campaign trail, Mississippi holds a primary today in the deadlocked Democratic presidential race. Thirty-three delegates are at stake. It’s the last primary for another six weeks until Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton face off in Pennsylvania. On Monday, Obama dismissed comments from the Clinton campaign that he would make an optimal vice-presidential running partner on a Clinton-led ticket.
Sen. Barack Obama: "I’ve won twice as many states as Senator Clinton. I’ve won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton. I have more delegates than Senator Clinton. So I don’t know how somebody who’s in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who’s in first place."
In other campaign news, a seventeen-year-old girl featured in the Clinton campaign’s infamous 3:00 a.m. phone call ad has announced she supports Obama. The ad features images of children asleep and asks viewers who they’d want answering an early morning White House phone call. The teen, Casey Knowles, was eight years old when the footage was filmed. She’s now working as a campaign volunteer for Obama.
Casey Knowles: "Well, originally I felt kind of bad, like I’m being disloyal to Senator Obama, because — I didn’t know, obviously, that this was going to happen, but I felt a little bad that my image was being used in this fear-mongering message. But I don’t think that this ad was the most classy move on her part. I think it was kind of a lowbrow sort of move. I’m not a big fan of the ad and the tactic."
The House Judiciary Committee has filed suit to enforce subpoenas of two White House aides in the probe of the firing of nine US attorneys. White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers ignored the subpoenas after President Bush claimed executive privilege protects them from testifying. It’s the first time either chamber of Congress has sued the Executive Branch to enforce a subpoena.
An Oklahoma state legislator is coming under criticism for a speech in which she says homosexuals are destroying the United States and are more dangerous than terrorists. Republican State Representative Sally Kern was addressing a small audience when she was secretly recorded.
State Rep. Sally Kern: "Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell of this country. I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat... If you got cancer or something in your little toe, do you say, well, you know, I’m just going to forget about it because the rest of me is fine? It spreads. OK? And this stuff is deadly, and it’s spreading, and it will destroy our young people, it will destroy this nation."
Kern has confirmed she made the comments and has refused to apologize.
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, violence in the Gaza Strip has eased amidst Israeli-Palestinian talks for a ceasefire. Egyptian officials are reportedly mediating the discussion between Israeli officials and members of Hamas. Palestinians are calling for an end to Israeli military attacks and the lifting of the intensified Gaza blockade.
In Iraq, at least twenty people were killed in attacks Monday, including eight US servicemembers. It was the worst single-day toll for the US military this year.
Back in Washington, House Oversight Committee Chair Henry Waxman is calling for a sweeping new probe of the private military firm Blackwater Worldwide. On Monday, Waxman asked the IRS and the Labor Department to investigate Blackwater’s classification of its mercenaries as "independent contractors" rather than employees. The move has allowed Blackwater to avoid up to $50 million in taxes and qualify for hundreds of millions in contracts reserved for small businesses.
In other Iraq news, a new Pentagon review has found no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The study analyzed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi documents captured following the US invasion of Iraq. In September 2002, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Bush administration had “bulletproof” evidence of cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iraq.
Former White House aide Karl Rove was treated to a hostile reception Sunday in a speech at the University of Iowa. Rove was interrupted several times as he spoke before more than 1,000 people. Two audience members were removed after they tried to perform what they called a citizen’s arrest for Rove’s involvement in Bush administration crimes. Rove was asked if he has ever shed a tear over the war in Iraq. Rove said he has cried for the parents of soldiers who support the war effort. Rove was paid $40,000 for the speech. Near the end of his talk, one audience member yelled, “Can we have our $40,000 back?” Rove replied, “No, you can’t.”
The Associated Press has revealed considerable traces of pharmaceutical drugs have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. The AP investigation found drugs including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones in the water supplies of twenty-four major metropolitan areas. The overall concentrations were small, measured in parts per billion or trillion. But experts say the findings raise concerns of long-term health effects.
And the Wall Street Journal has revealed the National Security Agency’s spying on US citizens has been more extensive than previously disclosed. Current and former intelligence officials say the NSA now monitors a huge collection of data, including emails, internet searches, bank transfers, credit card transactions, travel itineraries and telephone records. The data is amalgamated and searched for suspicious activity. Most of it comes from other agencies or private companies. Some of the data is supplied by several undisclosed so-called “black programs” — many established before the 9/11 attacks.