Chief Iraq weapons inspector David Kay yesterday officially told members of Congress that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller said Kay’s report proves that the nation’s soldiers were put at risk based on a threat that appears not to have existed. Kay, like many in the Bush administration maintain that even after six months of searching, stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons may still show up. Kay said, “We are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist, or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone.” Among other things the inspectors have has found no proof that Iraq had mobile biological production trailers as the Bush administration maintained prior to the invasion. The inspectors did find some equipment that indicated Saddam Hussein might have had plans to some day restart his banned weapons programs.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has come out opposed to the Bush administration’s draft resolution on Iraq thus throwing into doubt what the UN’s future will be in Iraq. Annan has advocated for allowing the Iraqis to first form a government before writing a constitution. The U.S. has warned against a quick transfer of power. One diplomat told Agence France Press that Annan said in a private meeting he saw no way for “two powers” to be in charge in Iraq and that, as long as the US is occupying Iraq, it would be difficult for the United Nations to take part. In addition Annan said the Security Council needs “radical reform” to remain relevant in a one-superpower world.
USA Today is reporting that Iraqis are now launching an average of 17 assaults a day against the U.S. occupying army, a marked increase in just the past few months. In September there were days when U.S. forces were attacked over 20 times. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who heads the occupying forces said yesterday, “The enemy has evolved. It is a little bit more lethal, little bit more complex, little bit more sophisticated and in some cases a little bit more tenacious.”
The Justice Department was dealt a major setback yesterday in its prosecution of suspected Al Qaida member Zacarias Moussaoui. A federal judge barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in the case and barred the government from attempting to link Moussaoui to the Sept. 11 attacks. The judge, Leonie Brinkema ruled that it would be impossible for Moussaoui to get a fair trial if the Justice Department continued to refuse to allow Moussaoui to interview captured members of al-Qaida. Brinkema described Moussaoui as a “remote or minor participant” in Al Qaida’s plans against the U.S. The Justice Department may now try to drop the charges against Moussaoui and move the case to a military tribunal. But analysts warn USA Today that this will make the Justice Department “appear to be shopping for the venue most likely to permit Moussaoui to be executed.”
In a sign that Attorney General John Ashcroft will not appoint a special independent counsel in the CIA leak case, the Washington Post reports the Justice Department plans to begin interviewing officials within the next few days to find out who illegally leaked the name of a CIA operative to reporters in July. It appears President Bush’s senior advisor Karl Rove may be among the first to be interviewed. A Justice Department official told the Washington Post, the first interviews will be with officials whose names have appeared in news reports about the case. The Justice Department announced it will also focus its investigation on the Defense and State Departments.
In a legislative setback to the Bush administration, the Republican-controlled House yesterday rejected a proposal to rewrite the nation’s overtime laws by a 221 to 203 vote. Labor analysts say up to 8 million workers in the U.S. could lose overtime benefits if the Bush-backed measure was passed.
Five days before the Oct. 7 California recall election, Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced to admit yesterday that he had behaved badly toward women. The admission came hours after the Los Angeles Times detailed at least six cases where Schwarzenegger had either sexually harrassed or sexually molested women over the past 25 years. Meanwhile he was forced to deny statements that he made 25 years ago that he admired Adolf Hitler. We’ll have more on this in a few minutes.
In Afghanistan, two Canadian peacekeepers died yesterday when a land mine exploded under their vehicle in Kabul. It was unclear if the mine was set to target international forces.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco has overturned a three-year-old law that forced federal inmates and parolees to give blood samples to be included in an FBI DNA database.
On Wednesday Chicago became the largest city in the country to condemn the USA Patriot Act. Chicago joins over 175 other cities, towns and counties as well as three states that have passed resolutions against the Act.
In Peru, the jailed New Yorker Lori Berenson got married yesterday during an eight-minute ceremony in prison. But her husband was barred from attending because he did not yet have a marriage certificate. Berenson is serving 20 years on contested charges that she collaborated with the rebel group Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
And South African writer JM Coetzee has won the Nobel prize for literature for his writings on post-apartheid South Africa.