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The Justice Department announced yesterday that it has begun a full criminal investigation into allegations that Bush administration officials leaked the name of a covert CIA operative to the media. But the White House has rejected calls for an independent counsel even though Bush’s closest aide Karl Rove, who has been accused of having a role in the leak, once served as a consultant to Attorney General John Ashcroft. Rove did campaign work for Ashcroft beginning in 1985 and Rove lobbied for his nomination as Attorney General in 2000. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said “Given allegations about the involvement of senior White House officials and the past close association between the Attorney General and one of those officials, the investigation should be headed by a person independent of the administration.” Nearly three months after officials within the White House outted the operative, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales yesterday ordered the preservation of any documents related to the case. And President Bush asked anybody with information to come forward
The U.S. government has arrested a third person working for the military at Guantanamo Bay where over 600 men are being detained after being captured in the so-called war on terror. The man, Ahmed Mehalba, was arrested in Boston. Officials say he was carrying CDs containing classified information about the detention facility. Mehalba, who was born in Egypt and is a U.S. citizen, worked as a civilian interpreter at Guantanamo. The Washington Post reports the government has no ties that connect Mehalba’s case to the recent arrests of an Army captain who serves as a Muslim chaplain there and an Air Force officer who works as a translator.
President Bush broke his own fundraising record yesterday by raising $5.3 million for his 2004 run during a 12-hour visit to the Midwest. In one day Bush managed to raise more money than any of his Democratic opponents have raised over the past three months with the exception of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. In other campaign news, two top aides to Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton have resigned including his campaign manager, Frank Watkins.
This news from the California recall: Independent candidate Arianna Huffington has dropped out of the recall election and is now urging voters to keep Gov. Gray Davis in office. Huffington said last night “It has become clear to me over the last 48 hours that the only way to stop a Republican takeover of California is to vote no on the recall. My supporters are very galvanized to stop Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Israel’s Cabinet earlier today approved expanding the controversial new wall that Israel is building throughout the West Bank. The latest expansion would extend the wall to swing around several Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
The Israeli army today reportedly detained Bassam Saadi a leading member of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. 14 other Palestinians were arrested in West Bank raids.
Three Israeli settlers were sentenced yesterday to up to 15 years in prison for attempting to bomb a Palestinian school for girls in East Jerusalem last year.
In Arizona yesterday, a jury convicted Frank Roque of first-degree murder for killing Balbir Singh Sodhi on Sept. 15, 2001, four days after the attacks on New York and Washington. Roque targeted Sodhi because he looked like an Arab or Muslim. In fact Sodhi was a Sikh who had immigrated from India in 1999.
For the second time in two days, large demonstrations shut down portions of Bolivia as thousands of schoolteachers called for higher wages and the resignation of President Gonzales Sanchez de Losada. On Monday Bolivia’s main union called for an indefinite strike in part because Bolivia plans to begin exporting natural gas.
Newspapers in Pakistan are reporting that U.S. warplanes bombed a section of Pakistan Monday in attempt to kill men believed to be connected to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda.
The Western Shoshone Nation has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government claiming rights to 60 million acres of land including much of Nevada and parts of California, Utah and Idaho. The lawsuit charges the U.S. did not fulfill its obligations of an 1863 treaty.