While the U.N. Security Council discussed a resolution to enforce an accord opening Iraqi sites to U.N. inspectors, U.N. chief Kofi Annan moved quickly to fulfill a key element of the agreement. Annan named the chief U.N. disarmament officer, Jayantha Dhanapala, to lead the special team of chaperones to accompany U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq’s disputed presidential palaces. Creation of the team was a critical part of the accord reached last weekend between Annan and Iraqi leaders, a deal that averted a U.S.-led military strike on Iraq. The United States and Britain, meanwhile, are pushing for a resolution to back the deal with specific penalties if Iraq violates the agreement. Any explicit threat of force, however, is unlikely to be supported by the other three permanent Security Council members — Russia, France and China — which all resisted U.S. and British threats of a military strike before the agreement was brokered. Councilmembers met informally for over an hour and a half Wednesday but produced no draft resolution. Consultations will resume today.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is blasting the U.N. deal. On Capitol Hill, Lott, of Mississippi, accused the administration of capitulating to President Saddam Hussein and abdicating its foreign policy to a “dubious negotiator,” Kofi Annan. He complained that the secretary-general is calling the shots, the United States is not. In a speech on the Senate floor, Lott also said, “It’s not too late to reject a deal if it leaves Saddam Hussein rejoicing.”
The CIA has reportedly drafted a plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The New York Times says the plan includes enlisting Kurdish and Shiite agents from within Iraq to sabotage key economic and political targets. An unidentified senior government official tells the paper that it’s not a propaganda operation, it’s a major campaign of sabotage. The Times reports it would target utility plants and government broadcast stations and increase political pressure through propaganda programs like a Radio Free Iraq broadcast to Baghdad. It would be the CIA’s fifth covert attempt to get rid of Saddam.
Hackers mounted an electronic assault on at least 11 U.S. military computer systems earlier this month, as the United States was stepping up deployments of troops and equipment to the Persian Gulf, this according to Pentagon officials, reported in The Washington Post today. The systems contain unclassified information, but the timing and magnitude of the assaults have alarmed U.S. authorities, although officials said no evidence has emerged that the intrusions were aimed at disrupting Gulf deployments or compromised preparations for possible military strikes against Iraq. Investigators have yet to determine their full impact.
New York Congressmember Bill Paxon, the Republican wunderkind who was stripped of his House leadership position last summer for conspiring to oust Speaker Newt Gingrich, announced that he would retire from office after his term and give up a career in politics to spend more time with his family. Paxon is the husband of former Congressmember Susan Molinari, who’s now a host of CBS’s Saturday morning program.
Advocates of rewriting the nation’s campaign finance laws swung a bare majority of the Senate behind them in several test votes, but failed to pick up enough support to push their measure to final passage.
The principal lawyer for Paula Corbin Jones said that he held secret discussions in recent weeks with one of President Clinton’s lawyers in which they offered his client a cash settlement and apology to drop her case.
South Korea’s new president, Kim Dae-jung, faced his first political crisis just hours after he was inaugurated, when the political opposition blocked Kim Jong-pil, Kim’s choice for prime minister, and delayed the formation of a cabinet. Negotiations began, and the president may coax enough votes in the National Assembly to allow the approval of his candidate.
The United States has decided to waive drug sanctions against Colombia on national security grounds, subject to President Clinton’s signature.
The U.S. Army is providing training to Mexican soldiers for the first time in an effort to create an elite counternarcotics unit that U.S. officials say has become the leading force in Mexico’s fight against international drug trafficking. At least that’s what U.S. officials say. The program started 18 months ago, includes training more than a thousand Mexican officers a year at more than a dozen bases across the U. S., according to U.S. officials and congressional documents. In addition, the CIA is giving extensive intelligence courses.