The U.S. Embassy has told a French judge probing the 1970s disappearance of French nationals in Chile that it does not want him to question former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Judge Roger Le Loire has asked Kissinger to testify on the alleged part played by the United States in the murder of opposition figures in Chile during the rightist rule of General Augusto Pinochet, who took power in a 1973 coup. A summons was delivered to Kissinger Monday while he was paying a private visit to France. However, the former U.S. foreign policy chief has since traveled to Italy without seeing the judge, leaving it to the U.S. Embassy in Paris to explain his position. According to a French judicial source, the embassy told the judge in a letter that Kissinger had other obligations and that the information requested by the judge was confidential. The letter, signed by an embassy official, suggested the judge should address an official request for information to President Bush’s administration. The French justice source said a request had been sent to Washington in 1999 during the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton, but no answer had been received. The source added the judge had a State Department document dated August 23, 1976, that suggested the U.S. administration knew about Condor, a plan agreed by Chile and other South American regimes to assassinate opposition figures. Kissinger became national security adviser under President Richard Nixon in 1969 and was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 under Presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford.
This news from Indonesia. Security forces pushed back thousands of supporters of President Abdurrahman Wahid besieging the gates of parliament today as legislators inside gave overwhelming support to impeachment of the Indonesian leader. Passage of the measure, which would set the stage for Wahid’s possible removal by August, became a certainty when the two largest parties in parliament backed impeaching him for mismanagement. A vote is expected later today. At the gates of the heavily guarded Legislature, 6,000 Wahid supporters, many carrying sticks and knives, demanded parliament be dissolved. They were confronted by thousands of troops backed by armored vehicles and tanks.
America’s NATO allies refused yesterday to endorse the Bush administration’s plans for a missile defense system and compounded the snub by rejecting U.S. efforts to persuade them even to accept that the West faces a common threat from so-called rogue nations, like Iraq, Iran and Korea. NATO foreign ministers meeting in Budapest agreed only to continue discussions with Washington. A surprisingly sharp communiqué added that the allies “intend to pursue these consultations vigorously and welcomed the U.S. assurance that the views of allies will be taken into account as it considers its plans further. Furthermore, despite a recent diplomatic charm offensive by senior U.S. officials, the prevailing view among allies is that there is little evidence that a hugely expensive missile defense system would even work, and, they say, it could erode existing arms control agreements and lead to a new arms race.
Two men face the death penalty after being convicted yesterday of murdering 224 people when U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed three years ago. Another two men were found guilty of being part of a conspiracy headed by the Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden that culminated in the bombing. Hearings start in New York today to decide whether the death penalty will be imposed on 24-year-old Rashed Daoud al-Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, already questions are being raised last night about how the international community would respond to their executions. A court in South Africa has ruled that Mohamed should not have been extradited to the U.S. without being assured he would not face death. Peter Bergen, an expert on terrorism who’s writing a book about bin Laden, said, “If you look at the four people convicted today, they were low- to mid-level. You’ve got a lower-level tier, not the leaders.”
This news from Phoenix, Arizona. One of 12 survivors of a border crossing that ended in 14 deaths in the scorching hot Arizona desert was charged yesterday with smuggling “illegal” immigrants. Jesus Lopez-Ramos, who’s 20, could receive up to life in prison or the death penalty. Lopez-Ramos was among a group rescued from the southern Arizona desert east of Yuma last week. They were the survivors from a group of 26 that attempted to cross 70 miles of desert in temperatures reaching 115 degrees.
Four Washington, D.C., jail officers, including the warden, have been fired in connection with the strip searches of several middle school students. The students visited the jail as part of an in-school suspension program. Nine boys say they underwent strip searches. Meanwhile, families of girls who say they were strip-searched on another occasion say they plan to file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
In negotiations over the $1.3 trillion tax cut that was approved by the House and Senate this weekend, the White House agreed to do without $90 billion in breaks to aid charities, as the Bush administration put a higher priority on reducing income tax rates. The breaks to aid charities, among Bush’s first campaign pledges, were a key part of the president’s effort to spur giving to charitable organizations so they could play a greater role in combating the country’s social problems. The breaks were in Bush’s initial tax cut proposal but were quickly dropped in Congress, and last-minute efforts by congressional sponsors to reinstate the provisions failed last week amid tepid White House support.
A U.S. district judge yesterday ruled that a gay psychiatrist owes the U.S. Air Force more than $71,000 for his education because he failed to fulfill his active-duty obligations. The judge said that the former U.S. Air Force captain should be required to pay back the government because he voluntarily announced he was gay and should have known the consequences of violating the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.