Nearly 70% of Americans believe there should be a special counsel independent of the administration investigating the allegations that Bush administration officials illegally leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent. This according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle and three other Senators wrote to the president repeating their call for a special counsel and asked for all White House senior staff members to sign a statement saying they were not responsible for the leak. Separately, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel said that Bush “needs to get this behind him” by taking a more active role.
Bush remained quiet on the topic, but White House press secretary Scott McClellan was besieged by questions from reporters with the Wilson affair filling 22 of 24 pages in the transcript of yesterday’s White House press briefing.
The Los Angles Times today published a nearly 4,000 word expose highlighting the stories of six women who say there were sexually harassed by gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. Three women said Schwarzenegger publicly grabbed their breasts. A fourth woman said he reached under her skirt to grip her buttocks. Another woman said the actor groped her in an elevator and attempted to remove her bathing suit. And a sixth woman said she was grabbed and forced to sit on his lap while he suggested performing a sexual act with her. The incidents occurred between the 1970s and 2000. Schwarzenegger refused to be interviewed for the article but his campaign spokesperson said the candidate had never engaged in improper conduct toward women.
One woman interviewed noted how Schwarzenegger’s behavior changed when he was around wife Maria Shriver. She said, “When Maria was around, he was a gentleman. When she wasn’t around, he was the opposite.”
A North Korean official claimed today that the country has completed reprocessing its 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods and has begun using the extracted plutonium to make atomic bombs. North Korea says it needs nuclear weapons as a deterrent to what they say are U.S. plans to invade the country.
Meanwhile Mohamed El Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the world’s nuclear powers to disarm. He said, “Unless we are moving steadily toward nuclear disarmament, I’m afraid that the alternative is that we’ll have scores of countries with nuclear weapons and that’s an absolute recipe for self-destruction.”
The Supreme Court was asked yesterday to rule on the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi. For nearly two years, Hamdi, who is a U.S. citizen, has been locked up on a naval brig in South Carolina. The government has not filed charges against him, has not presented evidence of guilt and has barred him from meeting with an attorney. President Bush has designated Hamdi, who was captured in Afghanistan, to be an enemy combatant and thus stripped of any legal rights. Public defender Frank Dunham filed an appeal to the Supreme Court yesterday on behalf of Hamdi who he has been barred from seeing. Dunham said, “The man’s been locked up for two years. He wants an opportunity to be heard in court. It goes right to the heart of our liberties.”
Senate Democrats yesterday temporarily blocked the nomination of Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee were unable to take a vote on Leavitt because all eight Democrats on the committee boycotted the meeting. The Democratic Senators demanded the Bush administration release more information on the recent changes to the nation’s air pollution rules.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has resigned from ESPN three days after stating racist comments on air about an African-American football player, Donavan McNabb, quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Limbaugh issued a state saying he did not mean the statement to be racist but he has not retracted his comment. On his national radio program Limbaugh said, “All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something. If I wasn’t right, there wouldn’t be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community.”
35 years ago today, hundreds of Mexican students were massacred by the Mexican government in Tlatelolco Plaza. New government documents obtained by the Associated Press prove the massacre began when 360 snipers under government commands fired into a crowd of 10,000 students who were protesting the nation’s one-party government and lack of political freedom. The massacre came just a week before the Olympics were to begin in Mexico City. The government has long maintained that armed students provoked the massacre. New evidence has also that future Mexican president Luis Echeverria played a greater role than previously believed in the massacre.
Three more U.S. soldiers died in Iraq yesterday after coming under guerilla attacks. In other Iraq news, The New York Times reports the Bush administrations plans to seek $600 million more to fund the so-far failed hunt for weapons of mass destruction.
A federal judge has ruled that Michigan student Bretton Barber has the right to go to school wearing a t-shirt reading “international terrorist” with President Bush’s face on it.
The ACLU, which brought the case to court said, “The court’s decision reaffirms the principle that students don’t give up their right to express opinions on matters of public importance once they enter school.”
About 160,000 people die annually from the side-effects of global warming according to a new study done in part by the World Health Organization.
Palestinian officials are protesting Israel’s new plans to build 600 new settler homes in the West Bank.
Palestinian cabinet member Yasser Abed Rabbo said, “This is evidence that the road map has been fully assassinated by an Israeli policy of settlement expansion, to which the United States is a witness.”
The Pakistani government has reportedly killed 12 members of al-Qaeda in the start of a new offensive against Osama Bin Laden’s group.
A survey by the Bush administration has found the image of the U.S. in Muslim countries has rapidly deteriorated over the past years. One researcher John Zogby, said the standing of the U.S. in the Muslim and Arab world could not be any worse than it is. A panel appointed by Bush found that two thirds of Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan felt than in March 2003, the U.S. posed a greater threat than Iraq. The percentage of Indonesians who felt favorably about the U.S. dropped from about 60 percent to 15 percent over the past year.
And the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote today on the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering from Mississippi. Pickering’s nomination has been strongly condemned by Democrats and civil rights groups who claim he is racist. Opponents cite one case in which Pickering pressured prosecutors to drop charges against a man convicted of burning a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple. 80 historians of the South and the African American Experience who have signed a petition opposing the elevation of Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Among the historians was John Hope Franklin of Duke University.