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Aides to President Bush have said they will cooperate with a Justice Department investigation into who in the White House illegally revealed the identity of a CIA agent in an attempt to smear a chief critic of the Iraq invasion. A senior administration official told the Washington Post that six reporters were contacted by White House officials and told that the wife of former diplomat Joseph Wilson was a CIA agent. The Post also revealed this weekend that CIA head George Tenent has called on the Justice Department to probe who leaked the information.
The New York Times is reporting that the intelligence provided by Iraqi defectors connected to the Iraqi National Congress provided information to the U.S. that turned out to have little or no value in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Defectors connected to INC head Ahmad Chalabi often invented or exaggerated their credentials to give the impression they had direct knowledge of Iraq weapons programs. The Times report is based on an internal study done by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Meanwhile leaders of the House intelligence committee have sent a letter to CIA Director George Tenet criticizing the use of outdated, “circumstantial” and “fragmentary” intelligence regarding Iraq’s weapons program and the country’s ties to al-Qaida. The letter was co-written by committee chairman Republican Porter Goss of Florida and Democrat Jane Harman of California. Goss is a former CIA agent and longtime supporter of Tenet.
In other fallout from the invasion of Iraq, two of the top Democratic presidential candidates, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry have called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Kerry said Rumsfeld has handled the Iraq situation in “an arrogant, inappropriate way that has frankly put America at jeopardy.” Dean who also called for the resignation of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said, “There is no need to wait until the next election to hold the major architects of this disaster responsible for their gross incompetence. The time has come for the president to fire them.”
And Retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, who once headed up Central Command, has become the latest top official to question the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq. Zinni told ABC’s Nightline “either the intelligence was so bad and flawed — and if that’s the case, then somebody’s head ought to roll for that — or the intelligence was exaggerated or twisted in a way to make a more convenient case to the American people.”
In other Iraq news, in the lead-up to a day of international protests against the Iraq occupation, a California man accused President Bush for being responsible for the death of his 20-year-old son who was killed in Iraq. Fernando Suarez said of his son Jesus, “My son died because Bush lied.” Suarez went on to say “It is time for these troops to come home. Neither my wife nor my family want more children to die in this illegal war.”
In Iraq U.S. forces came under more attacks this weekend when rockets or grenades were fired at the al-Rashid Hotel, which houses U.S. military officers and civilian occupation officials. There were no reported injuries. Meanwhile U.S. forces killed at least four Iraqis at a checkpoint in Fallujah. Two of the victims were women.
The head of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Noeleen Heyzer, said Thursday that Iraqi women are in many ways worse off now than during Saddam Hussein’s regime. Heyzer said the lack of security and the threat from religious fundamentalists prevent many women from playing a larger role in the rebuilding of Iraq. Last week one of the three women on the Iraqi Governing Council, Akila al-Hashemi, was assassinated.
In domestic news, jean company Levi Strauss has announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs in North America and close its last open plant in the United States. Most of the company’s jeans are now made in Latin American and Asia.
New figures from the Census Bureau show 1.7 million people in the United States fell below the poverty line last year. Over 12 percent of the country now live in poverty.
A new CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll has found California voters will overwhelming vote to recall Gov. Gray Davis next week and elect actor Arnold Schwarzenegger by a 40-to-25 percent margin over Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante. Meanwhile the state’s largest paper, the Los Angeles Times, has officially come out against the recall and also opted to endorse none of the candidates if Davis is recalled.
And tennis pioneer Althea Gibson and film director Elia Kazan have died. Gibson was the Jackie Robinson of female tennis. She was the first African-American to play in the U.S. championship and was the first African-American to win the U.S. title and Wimbledon. She was 76. Kazan was an influential director who discovered Marlon Brando, James Dean and Warren Beatty. He directed “On the Waterfront” and “Streetcar Named Desire.” In 1999 he was greeted by large protests when he won lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards. In 1952 he went before the House Un-American Activities Committee and named names of people he claimed were members of the Communist Party thus destroying many lives.