For the first time in six months, the U.S. resumed air attacks in Baghdad Wednesday. In the first of two bombings, a U.S. gunship destroyed an Iraqi dye factory that the U.S. claimed was a base for militants opposed to the U.S. occupation. Later a U.S. Apache helicopter bombed a van carrying Iraqis. Officials said two people died and three were injured in the attack. The U.S. claimed Iraqis were using the van to transport a mortar. Later upon searching van the U.S. found no mortar or ammunition though officials said a mortar was found nearby.
The death toll from yesterday’s suicide bombing in Nasiriyah has risen to 31 including at least 18 Italians. It was the deadliest attack against a U.S. ally since the invasion began and it marked Italy’s worst military combat loss since World War II. Following the attack, Japan announced that it would not send troops to Iraq until next year due to the security situation.
The Washington Post reports that some top U.S. commanders see the recent string of attacks as a possible sign that this wave of guerilla warfare was planned ahead of time by Saddam Hussein.
A leaked top-secret CIA report from Iraq estimated that there are now 50,000 resistance fighters in Iraq. One U.S. official who read the CIA report said, “resistance is broad, strong and getting stronger. [The report] says we are going to lose the situation unless there is a rapid and dramatic change of course.”
Responding to the increasing resistance against the occupation, Bush administration officials said Wednesday, Iraqi elections may now take place before July of next year. And the White House now backs shifting power to a temporary Iraqi government even before a new constitution is drafted. Officials said the hand over of power would not result in the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Divisions remain between Washington and the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. The New York Times reports the Council opposes elections and wants the council to be turned into the provisional government.
Some members of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks are blasting the conditions that the White House has set in order for members of the commission to examine documents related to the attacks. Former Senator Max Cleland said, “If this decision stands, I, as a member of the commission, cannot look any American in the eye, especially family members of victims, and say the commission had full access. This investigation is now compromised.”
The Washington Post reports the White House has agreed to allow four members of the 10-person committee have varying degrees of access to the classified presidential briefings. Restrictions will be placed on what briefings can be seen and on what portions of the briefings may be shared with the rest of the commission. The White House is also demanding it review any notes that commissioners take concerning the documents. Former Congressman Timothy Roemer said “never have so few commissioners reviewed such important documents with so many restrictions. The 10 commissioners should either have access to this or not at all.”
The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops voted 234 to 3 Wednesday on a declaration opposing same-sex unions declaring that it would undermine the family and marriage.
The Iraqi doctors who treated Jessica Lynch have rejected reports that suggest Lynch was raped after her capture in Iraq. One doctor said “If she had been raped there is no way she could have survived it. She was fighting for her life, her body was broken. What sort of an animal would even think of that?” Lynch has said she does not remember any sexual assault but her new authorized biography written by former New York Times report Rick Bragg says U.S. military records indicate she was raped. Lynch has returned to the spotlight this week following the airing of a docudrama Sunday and the publication of the biography. Lynch however has been critical of her portrayal by the U.S. military. In her first TV interview she said “They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong.”
Four soldiers at Fort Benning in Georgia have been arrested and accused of stabbing a fellow soldier and then setting his body on fire and leaving it in the woods. The incident came just days after the soldiers returned from Iraq in July. According to the Associated Press, three of the soldiers were originally charged with murder but a judge Monday reduced the charges to concealing a body.
In Colombia, the head of the nation’s military has resigned becoming the fourth top official to do so in the past month joining the defense, interior and housing ministers. On October 25 voters rejected a series of reforms proposed by President Alvaro Uribe in a national referendum.
The Independent of London is reporting that the U.S. is attempting to severely curtail protests during President Bush’s visit to London. Police have told protest organizers that a rolling “exclusion zone” will be set up in order to ensure that television cameras will never capture images of Bush or his motorcade and protesters. Marches have also been banned in parts of central London. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said “[The police] are under pressure from the Americans, and the losers appear to be people of Britain who want to show their opposition to the Iraq war.”