The CIA has launched a covert operation to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and has been given explicit permission by the White House to kill him if necessary, this according to anonymous officials quoted in a Sunday Washington Post exposé by Bob Woodward. President Bush signed the classified order earlier this year. The administration has already allocated tens of millions of dollars to the program. But the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, has told President Bush and his war cabinet that without companion military action, the CIA has only a small chance of succeeding in toppling the Iraqi leader. One source says the covert action is actually largely in preparation for a military strike so the agency can identify targets, intensify intelligence gathering on the ground and build relations with alternative future leaders and groups if Saddam Hussein is ousted. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and other prominent congressional Democrats endorsed the plan on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration ordered the expulsion of a U.N.-based Iraqi diplomat Saturday, alleging that he spied on the U.S.
As many as a thousand delegates to Afghanistan’s traditional Loya Jirga council walked out today. The meeting degenerated into arguments over how the country’s legislature should be appointed. Some delegates were angry at the suggestion that the newly selected U.S.-backed leader Hamid Karzai would create a separate assembly which would approve cabinet posts instead of the Loya Jirga itself.
Israel has begun work on a 225-mile fence that will wall off Palestinians from Israel. Israeli officials say the fence is expected to cost over a million dollars per mile and will have electric sensors that will detect any attempt to cut through it. The New York Times reported Saturday there will be new rules of engagement for the army, including guidelines on arresting or even shooting people caught crossing. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is rejecting the idea of an interim Palestinian state, an option being considered by President Bush.
This news from India: Islamic guerrillas attacked a party of Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir, killing three children. It was one of several raids over the weekend that claimed a total of 21 lives after a relative lull in violence.
A day after the U.S. formally abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Russia responded by saying it’s no longer bound by the 1993 accord known as START II. That accord outlawed multiple-warhead missiles, precisely the kind of missiles that the Pentagon has found impossible to shoot down with its Star Wars technology.
Meanwhile, federal officials began work in Alaska on Saturday on six underground missile interceptors as part of the so-called national missile defense system. People protested at the main gate of Fort Greely and along the highway.
A federal judge on Friday ordered South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges to allow federal plutonium shipments into his state. Hodges had called a state of emergency and ordered state troopers and other authorities in South Carolina’s borders to block the shipment. The judge said a blockade would be illegal and create a possible terrorist target.
Arthur Andersen this week begins the task of handing over some 1,600 clients to rival auditors after the accounting giant was found guilty of obstruction of justice Saturday. After 10 days of deliberations, a federal jury convicted Arthur Andersen based solely on the fact that an Andersen lawyer had ordered critical deletions from an internal memo. The case was supposed to be an easy one for the government, but the jury failed to unanimously conclude even that Arthur Anderson’s destruction of thousands of documents was illegal.
Hundreds of people protesting corporate influence in the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Madison, Wisconsin, rallied outside the meeting Sunday. Six people were arrested. The conference has drawn more than 200 leaders from around the country, but it’s also being attended by corporations that have contributed some, well, close to $1 million. Critics say those contributions give them access ordinary citizens can’t afford.
A leading U.S. lawyer is planning to file a class-action lawsuit against Citibank and Switzerland’s two biggest banks on behalf of victims of South Africa’s former apartheid regime. The banks are accused of profiting from loans to the white South African government while a U.N. embargo was in force. Attorney Ed Fagan played a key role in securing compensation for Holocaust survivors from Swiss banks. He says he will begin proceedings in a New York court today.
France swung to the right Sunday as voters handed a sweeping parliamentary majority to President Jacques Chirac’s center-right. The racist far-right National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen failed to win a single seat. Nearly 40% of the electorate didn’t vote. That’s the highest abstention rate for a general election in 43 years.
Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan González has been elected president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Leading an insurgent slate that was strongly opposed by the organization’s entire board of directors, Juan swept into office with 58% of the vote against the board’s candidate, Marilyn Garateix, an editor at The Boston Globe, during the group’s annual convention in San Diego this weekend. Several other insurgents also won seats on the 16-member board. During two major speeches before nearly 1,500 Latino journalists and top media executives, Juan blasted the “snail-like progress” of the mass media in hiring and promoting Latino journalists and the terrible news coverage they routinely provide of Latinos. That dismal record, he said, is only one manifestation of a wider problem: how corporate media concentration has decimated the quality of journalism and is threatening American democracy. He vowed that during his two-years term, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists will pursue policies of increased advocacy.