Fears of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict growing into a regional war expanded yesterday as Israeli warplanes bombed targets deep inside Syria yesterday in a surprise airstrike. It was the first attack inside Syria in 30 years. Israeli warplanes strike outside of Damascus came hours after a Palestinian woman blew herself up in a suicide attack in the Israeli town of Haifa. 19 people died in the attack including four children. 60 more were injured. The suicide bombing came on the eve of the Jewish Holy Day Yom Kippour. Israeli described the target to be a terrorist training camp run by Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian group that had carried out the attack. But Syrian officials say the camp was largely abandoned. Israel’s bombing of Syria was widely condemned in the international community. UN Secretary Kofi Annan said this “has the potential to broaden the scope of current conflicts in the Middle East, further threatening regional peace and security.” Most of the Arab world and much of Europe condemned the attack. The Bush administration urged restraint on all sides but US ambassador John Negroponte said “The United States believes that Syria is on the wrong side of the war on terrorism.” Israel yesterday protested the UN Security Council’s decision to hold a closed-door meeting to discuss the attack. Israel’s ambassador, Dan Gillerman said “For Syria to call a Security Council meeting is as if Bin Laden had called a Security Council meeting after 9/11.” Israeli officials also suggested Iran could be a possible future target. On CNN a spokesman for Prime Minister Sharon said “This is a clear signal to the Damascus-Teheran-Gaza axis of terror.”
As Sign of Growing Problems, White House Reorganizes Iraq Effort
The White House has ordered a major reorganization of American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan to quell the violence and to speed the reconstruction. The New York Times reports that the reorganization is the closest the White House has come to an admitting it failed to plan for post-war conflicts and reconstruction in either Iraq or Afghanistan. One administration official said, “The president knows his legacy… and maybe his re-election, depends on getting this right. This is as close as anyone will come to acknowledging that it’s not working.” National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice will head the new Iraq Stabilization Group which is seen by some as supplanting much of the power originally given to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in handling post-invasion Iraq.
Ex UK Foreign Minister: Blair Knew Iraq Had No WMD
Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook revealed this weekend that Prime Minister Tony Blair had privately conceded before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Cook had resigned in protest shortly before the invasion to protest Blair’s handling of the Iraq issue. Cook also said Blair used purposely suggestive language to mislead the British public on the link between Iraq and
Pre-Invasion Report: Iraq Oil Industry In Shambles
A year ago the Bush administration was given a report that warned that the state of the Iraqi oil industry was in such poor shape that it would not be able to cover the costs of reconstruction. This according to the New York TImes. Despite receiving the secret Pentagon study, the Bush administration claimed repeatedly in the months before the invasion of Iraq that oil sales, and not taxpayer money would pay for the reconstruction. During the war Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress “we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” Now that the findings of the secret report have largely come true, the Bush administration has been forced to ask Congress for $87 billion to cover unexpected costs in Iraq.
Chalabi’s Nephew Opens Baghdad Law Firm w/ Pentagon Insider
Newsday is reporting that the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi who heads the Iraqi Governing Council has started a new law firm in Baghdad with a former law partner of the Pentagon’s Douglas Feith, who was one of the leading backers of the Iraq invasion. Salem Chalabi, has boasted of his daily contact with his uncle. Marc Zell was a partner for Feith for 15 years before Feith took the Pentagon post. Neither Chalabi or Feith claim they are connected to the businesses, but Newsday reports it is the latest examples of entrepeneurs with close ties to the Bush administration seeking profit from the Iraq reconstruction. The president of the watchdog group Common Cause said “The appearance of all this is terrible. It continues to harm our reputation at a time when we’re trying to justify the appropriateness of going to war, when a lot of people are asking, 'Was this about making money for the United States?'
Joseph Wilson: Family At Risk Following CIA Leak
Former ambassador Joseph Wilson said yesterday he and his wife have been forced to take security precautions after it was revealed in the press that his wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative. Wilson told CBS’s Face the Nation yesterday “Perhaps this does make her a target.” The outing of Plame also revealed the name of a CIA front business. In 2000, Plame identified her employment as an “analyst” with Brewster-Jennings & Associates when she donated money to former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign for president. Attorney General John Ashcroft has still refused to call for an independent counsel to investigate who within the Bush Administration outed Plame to reporters. This despite the close ties between Ashcroft and one of the chief suspects, President Bush’s senior advisor Karl Rove. Time Magazine reports that Ashcroft paid Karl Rove’s company nearly three quarters of a million dollars between 1984 and 1994 for offering direct mail services to Ashcroft’s campaigns in Missouri for governor and senator.
Bush Taps NYC Prosecutor For Ashcroft’s Deputy
On Friday President Bush nominated James Comey to become the next deputy attorney general, the Justice Department’s highest position behind Attorney General John Ashcroft. Comey had been serving as the federal government’s top prosecutor in Manhattan. Among the cases he handled were the indictment of civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart and Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen who is being held as a so-called enemy combatant.
10 States Plan to Sue US on Global Warming
California, New York and eight other states are planning to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over the Bush administration’s recent decision not to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
NC Congressman Says Muslim Group Caused Marriage Breakup
Republican Congressman Cass Ballenger of North Carolina is coming under criticism from Muslim groups after he claimed that he broke up with his wife of 50 years in part because of the stress caused by the close proximity of their home to the office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He claimed that he and his wife were worried that CAIR’s office was so close to the U.S. Capitol that “they could blow the place up.” He said having CAIR’s office in his neighborhood “bugged the hell” out of his wife. He told the Charlotte Observer that he reported the organization to the FBI and CIA claiming it was a fundraising arm of terrorists. A representative from CAIR responded by saying, “This is out-and-out bigotry. It’s unworthy of an elected official at the national level.” Ballenger also said his relationship with his wife worsened after Congress passed new laws that banned legislators from receiving gifts, including meals and theater tickets, from lobbyists.