Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. had no new evidence that Iraq was pursuing weapons of mass destruction prior to the attack in March but he insisted the invasion was still justified.
Rumsfeld said: “The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq’s pursuit” of weapons of mass destruction… We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light — through the prism of our experience on 9-11.”
At the same hearing Rumsfeld came under intense questioning on the situation of post-war Iraq. The New York Times reports that Rumsfeld announced the estimated cost of military operations in Iraq has doubled from earlier estimates of $2 billion to $3.9 billion per month. Meanwhile Rumsfeld said the U.S. will maintain a presence of about 145,000 troops in Iraq into at least the fall.
As recently as May, the Bush administration estimated only about 30,000 to 40,000 troops would remain in Iraq.
USA Today is reporting that the Pentagon is having trouble with its plans to replace American troops with soldiers from other nations. India, Pakistan and Portugal have all balked at sending troops. The Pentagon hoped these three nations would contribute up to 30,000 troops.
Meanwhile a top US intelligence official who served under the Bush administration up until last year accused the White House yesterday of lying about Iraq.
Gregory Thielmann, a former director in the state department’s bureau of intelligence, said yesterday: “I believe the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq. Most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided.”
The BBC is reporting that “very senior sources” within the Blair government have virtually ruled out the possibility of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
In Iraq two U.S. soldiers were killed and a third wounded in attacks last night. One soldier was fatally shot south of Baghdad. Another was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack near Tikrit. A third U.S. soldier was killed in what the Pentagon described as a non-hostile gun incident. The Pentagon did not release any of the names of the deceased.
The Iraqi daily newspaper al-Dostour is reporting that there have been recent attempts to assassinate Paul Bremer, the top U.S administrator in Baghdad, as well as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The paper reports there have been four attempts on Bremer’s life since May. Rumsfeld’s convoy was exposed to fire from attackers while leaving the Baghdad airport during a recent visit.
This news from Falluja, Iraqi police there threatened to resign today unless the U.S. forces that trained them left town. They said saying the presence of American troops endangered their lives.
The police station last night came under attack overnight by rocket-propelled grenades.
A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the U.S. government has the right to designate U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” and to jail them indefinitely without ever seeing an attorney. The court denied a hearing for the Louisiana-born man Yaser Esam Hamdi who has been held since November 2001.
In a dissenting decision, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote: “The panel’s decision marks the first time in our history that a federal court has approved the elimination of protections afforded a citizen by the Constitution solely on the basis of the Executive’s designation of that citizen as an enemy combatant.”
In Los Angeles one of the city’s most high profile police brutality trials since the Rodney King case began yesterday
Officer Jeremy Morse is on trial for assault. Last year he was caught on videotape slamming a handcuffed African-American boy onto the back of a police car and then punching the boy in his face.
Protesters outside the court noted that only one of the 12 jurors in the case was African-American.
The Pentagon yesterday issued a 15-page report that debunks many of the myths that grew around the case of Jessica Lynch, the teenage US soldier who was injured during the Iraq war. She became a household name after reports that she was taken prisoner of war after she was shot and stabbed by Iraqis. Her story grew even larger when the military staged a dramatic videotape rescue of her from an Iraqi hospital.
The Pentagon now says Lynch suffered “horrific injuries” not at the hands of Iraqis but from an automobile accident. Her convoy’s Humvee crashed after it got lost and then came under enemy fire. Reports that Lynch heroically fought Iraqis by firing all her ammunition until it ran out and reports that she was shot and stabbed by her captors all proved to be untrue. These details all became top stories in the U.S. press based on intelligence intercepts and reports from military officials.
In addition a Pentagon source told the Washington Times, that Lynch survived “principally because of the medical attention she received from the Iraqis.”