150 Top Pentagon officials, nuclear scientists and defense contractors will meet behind closed doors today in a top secret meeting to discuss rewriting the country’s nuclear strategy. Congressional observers have been barred from attending. Some observers fear the attendees will agree to end the U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing and to launch a new generation of nuclear weapons.
The meeting is taking place at the Offutt military base also known as U.S. Strategic Command outside of Omaha Nebraska.
The Guardian of London notes many ironies of the meeting’s location and timing:
The Offutt site inspired the setting for the 1964 film Dr Strangelove.
Attendees of the meeting arrived last night on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing and some are expected to stay until Saturday, the anniversary of the attack on Nagasaki.
The B-29 planes which dropped those nuclear bombs, were both built at the base.
The Guardian writes QUOTE ” The use of those weapons marked the beginning of the cold war and the first nuclear age. Today’s meeting, many observers believe, could mark the start of a second.”
Protests outside the base took place over the weekend and resumed yesterday. We are joined on the phone by one of them, Father Frank Cordero from the Des Moines Catholic Worker movement.
This news from Baghdad: Up to 10 people have died after a car bomb exploded outside the Jordanian embassy today. Another 40 were injured.
Meanwhile two U.S. soldiers died last night in separate firefights in Baghdad. The New York Times reports the U.S. plans to scale back the number of house raids in Iraq because the raids are turning the population against U.S. troops.
Israel yesterday freed nearly 340 Palestinian prisons in a move hailed by Gen. Ariel Sharon as a sign that Israel is committed to peace. But the Guardian of London reports the Palestinian leadership dismissed the move as a public relations ploy. Most of the freed men were within months, weeks and days of being released.
The California gubernatorial race yesterday got a lot more crowded. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the star of films such as The Terminator and Conan the Barbarian, announced he would run as a Republican. Political pundit and columnist Arianna Huffington threw her hat into the ring. So did Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante and child acting star Gary Coleman of Different Strokes. Earlier in the week Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler, said he too would run. Over 200 people have now taken out papers to replace Gov. Gray Davis if voters recall him in October.
If Schwarzenegger wins, he would become the second actor elected governor in California. The first was Ronald Reagan.
An Indonesian court today sentenced Amrozi bin Nurhasyim to death by firing squad after he was found guilty of helping orchestrate last year’s bombing in Bali that killed more than 200 people.
Meanwhile the death toll of Tuesday’s bombing outside the Marriott Hotel in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta has risen to 14.
The New York Daily News is reporting that Attorney General John Ashcroft will soon go on a 10-day 20-state campaign to garner support to expand his power in the so-called war on terror and the war on drugs. The Daily News reports the campaign will be known as the Victory Tour because Ashcroft will be pushing for passage of the Victory Act which stands for the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act
The new legislation will allow the government to obtain private business records of suspects, increase surveillance of wireless communications, among other things.
In a setback to Rep. Richard Gephardt, the AFL-CIO has decided to wait until mid-October before endorsing a Democratic candidate for president. Gephardt, who already has the backing of the Teamsters, hoped an AFL-CIO endorsement would provide a much-needed push in his campaign.
In related news former New York governor Mario Cuomo is calling on Al Gore to enter the race. Gore is speaking in New York today in a forum sponsored by the anti-war group Move On Dot Org.
Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell has recommended the U.S. resume its role in tracking and sometimes shooting down suspected drug trafficking planes in Columbia. The U.S. stopped its involvement two years ago when a U.S. missionary and her baby were killed when their plane was mistakenly shot down over Peru.
In Texas, the planned execution of Jose Rivera was stopped by a federal appeals court last night three hours after he was scheduled to die. The prosececutor’s chief witness said Rivera did not commit the murder he was convicted for. And his attorneys said Rivera can not be legally executed because he is mentally retarded.
And the Republican governor of South Dakota has decided the state will not celebrate G. Gordan Liddy Day. The governor said his office accidentally signed off on a proclamation for today to honor Liddy who spent 4 and a half years in jail for his role in breaking into the Democratic Party national headquarters located at the Watergate complex in 1972.