In a private memo from last week Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld questioned how successful the Pentagon has been doing in the so-called war on terrorism. Rumseld begins the memo asking “Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?”
He goes on to say the government has had mixed results tracking down Al Qaida and he acknowledges many members of Osama Bin Laden’s organization remain at large. Rumsfeld also writes that the U.S. has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the 55 most wanted Iraqis. Near the end of the memo Rumsfeld writes “It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.”
Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the memo shows that Rumsfeld and the Pentagon is beginning to display “a little self-doubt.” Biden added that the memo was “the first sort of introspection that I’ve even whiffed coming out of the civilian side of the Defense Department.”
An independent panel appointed to investigate the August bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad has concluded that the UN failed to thoroughly assess security in Iraq or respond to warnings. The communications director of the Baghdad mission said “Many of those who died did not have to” and that the mistakes “clearly went well beyond gross negligence.” The UN bombing killed 22 staff members and visitors and injured more than 150 people.
The Pentagon has revealed that at least 28 soldiers who have been stationed in Iraq have not reported back to duty after they were granted a 15-day leave.
Meanwhile the commanding general in Iraq said attacks against the U.S. have increased greatly over the past two weeks. During the summer the U.S. faced between 10 and 15 attacks per day. Now the daily total ranges from 20 to 35.
In Saudi Arabia, 83 demonstrators will be sent to court after taking part in a rare anti-government street protest last week. Saudi police also detained another 190 people at the protest but they were later determined to be bystanders. Meanwhile Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz warned against any more protests because they are illegal under Saudi law.
A new study by the Congressional General Accounting Office found that recent rules changes by the Environmental Protection Agency will lead to the release annually of 1.4 million tons more air pollution spread over 12 states.
In Boliva, opposition leader Evo Morales has called for former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, to be tried for crimes against humanity following the deaths of 80 Bolivian protesters during the past month. He also said the defense and interior ministers should face trial.
President Bush was heckled both inside and outside Australia’s parliament yesterday as he wrapped up a six-nation Asian tour focused on security and trade. In his speech, Bush labeled Australia a regional “sheriff” and staunchly defended the Iraq war. He was stopped twice by heckling from Greens leader Bob Brown who shouted “We are not a sheriff,”
Five protesters were arrested in scuffles with police as a crowd of up to 2,000 chanted anti-U.S. slogans and waved banners reading: “Yankee Go Home”.