Bush Says Saddam Should Face “Ultimate Penalty”; Vatican Cardinal Says Saddam Handled “Like a Cow”

Dec 17, 2003

During a rare television interview, President Bush Tuesday night called for the execution of Saddam Hussein saying he should face “the ultimate penalty.” But he said Hussein’s fate should be left to the Iraqi people.

Meanwhile Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced the CIA is now heading up the interrogation of Hussein although the captured leader remains in military custody.

Fighting between U.S. troops and members of the Iraqi resistance continued. West of Baghdad Tuesday, U.S. troops said they killed 11 Iraqis who were planning an ambush. Meanwhile in Baghdad at least 10 people died today and 15 were injured after a fuel tanker exploded. Police said the tanker collided with a bus setting off a bomb that was meant for a nearby police station. On Monday at least two Iraqi police stations came under attack leaving nine dead.

Meanwhile in Samarra, U.S. forces raided the city arresting 80 Iraqis over the past two days. Agence France Press reports US troops stormed into houses in the middle of the night and blew up doors and gates with explosives to gain access to locked homes. Pro-Saddam rallies were reportedly held in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul.

At the Vatican, a senior Cardinal strongly criticized the U.S. for releasing video footage of Saddam Hussein where the captured man was handled “like a cow.”

The Cardinal, Renato Martino, said “I feel pity to see this man destroyed. Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite all the heavy blame he bears. I had a sense of compassion for him.” The Cardinal also reiterated the Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty.

In South Korea, the government announced today that it would send 3,000 troops to Iraq in support of the occupation.

And France and Germany have issued a joint statement with the United States calling for a substantial reduction of Iraq’s staggering 120 billion dollar debt next year.

Washington Post: U.S. Considers Expanding FBI Database

Dec 17, 2003

The Washington Post reports that homeland security officials want to expand the FBI’s criminal databases to include the names of 140,000 illegal immigrants and foreign students. The database known as the National Crime Information Center includes the names of more than 40 million felons, fugitives, missing persons. It is used by more than 80,000 law enforcement agencies.

U.S. To Become More Dependent on Foreign Supplies

Dec 17, 2003

The U.S. Department Tuesday predicted that the U.S. will become more dependent on foreign oil supplies over the next 20 years. Currently about 54 percent of the oil used in the U.S. comes from foreign sources. The government is now predicting foreign oil will account for70 percent of the oil used in the U.S. by 2025.

Ashcroft Fined For Campaign Finance Violations

Dec 17, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft and his 2000 Senate Campaign have agreed to pay a $37,000 fine for campaign finance violations. The Federal Elections Commission determined that Ashcroft’s campaign had illegally received about $110,000 in excessive donations from political action committees. As part of the settlement Ashcroft denied any wrongdoing.

Morning-After Pill To Be Sold Over The Counter

Dec 17, 2003

Two advisory panels of the Food and Drug Administration have voted to recommend that the contraceptive known as the morning-after pill be sold over the counter. Planned Parenthood estimates that the pill could prevent as many as half of the three million annual unintended pregnancies in this country.

Bush Backs Amendment To Bar Gay Marriage

Dec 17, 2003

In an interview with ABC, President Bush said he backs a constitutional amendment that would bar same-sex marriages. He said “I would support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman.”

EPA Abandons Changes To Clean Water Act

Dec 17, 2003

The Bush administration has abandoned its plans to rewrite the Clean Water Act and remove protection from millions of acres of wetlands. The decision comes after the Environmental Protection Agency received more than 133,000 comments opposing the proposed plan.

CAFTA Negotiations Close To Collapse

Dec 17, 2003

In Washington negotiations over a Central American free trade agreement have come a step closer to collapse after Costa Rica walked away from talks with the US. This according to the Financial Times. Costa Rica is one of five Central American nations involved in the negotiations with the U.S. The others are El Salvadar, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

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