The Army has ordered the tours of thousands of forces in the National Guard and Army Reserves in Iraq to be extended to a full year in the latest sign that the U.S. military has been stretched thin due to the ongoing troubles in Iraq. The Washington Post reports the Army issued the policy late Friday night but made no formal announcement of the change. The order affects 20,000 troops in Iraq and Kuwait.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that White House officials are already admitting that far more than $87 billion will be needed to rebuild Iraq. The acknowledgement came just a day after President Bush made his primetime appeal for more money.
In order to come up with the additional money, the U.S. plans to pressure other countries to help. An international donors conference is scheduled to take place in October in Spain.
The White House is also come under criticism for failing to outline where the requested $87 billion will be spent. Of the $51 billion earmarked for military operations in Iraq, the administration has detailed only how $1 billion will be spent.
A new poll by ABC News has found that nearly half of Americans now believe the invasion of Iraq has increased the risk of another terror attack in the United States.
The Arab League today granted a representative from the Iraqi Governing Council a seat at its meeting ending a two-month dispute over whether to recognize the Iraqi body set by the U.S. occupying forces. The Iraqi Foreign Minister will serve on the Arab League until a legitimated Iraqi government is formed.
The Washington Post is reporting that the CIA and other intelligence agencies warned the Bush administration that a U.S. occupation in Iraq would face significant armed resistance. One CIA report warned that “chaos after war would turn [Iraq] into a laboratory for terrorists.” One unnamed official told the Post “Intelligence reports told them at some length about possibilities for unpleasantness. The reports were written, but we don’t know if they were read.”
But former Army secretary Thomas E. White, who resigned in April, said postwar planning was based on the assumption held by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his civilian advisors that U.S. troops would be “greeted in the streets by a euphoric public, glad of being rid of Saddam Hussein.”
Meanwhile Congressman David Obey, a Democrat from Wisconsin, has sent President Bush a letter calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to resign because of their mishandling of the invasion of Iraq. And The Madison, Wisconsin based newspaper The Capitol Times has also called for Rumsfeld to resign.
Meanwhile Rumsfeld yesterday lashed out at critics of the Bush administration saying they were hindering the war on terrorists by giving encouraging signs to the enemies of the United States.
He said of the nation’s enemies “They take heart in that and that leads to more money going into these activities or that leads to more recruits or that leads to more encouragement or that leads to more staying power. Obviously that does make our task more difficult.”
The Supreme Court appears split on the constitutionality of the new campaign finance law that bans unregulated soft money from corporations and labor unions. In the first special summer session in three decades, the court yesterday heard four hours of debate.
The law laws are being challenged by a coalition of groups include the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. According to the Washington Post, the court appears to be split and the decision will likely rest on Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Those that appeared unsympathetic to the law were Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Among the attorneys arguing against the ban were Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
New York Senator Hillary Clinton is threatening to block the appointment of Mike Leavitt as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency in response to a recent report that the White House and the EPA mislead New Yorkers over the safety of air quality in downtown New York after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
In other news from the EPA, the Knight Ridder news agency is reporting that two of the agency’s top officials resigned shortly after the EPA weakened the nation’s clean air only to take jobs with industrial firms that greatly benefited from the rule changes.
John Pemberton, the chief of staff in the EPA’s air and radiation office, left to become the director of federal affairs for Southern Co., an Atlanta-based utility. The firm is considered to be the second biggest power-plant polluter in the nation and had spent millions lobbying for the rule changes.
In addition, Ed Krenik, who had been the EPA’s associate administrator for congressional affairs, left the EPA to work for the Houston-based law firm that coordinated lobbying for several utilities on easing the power-plant pollution rule.
In other lobbying news, Top Justice Department spokesperson Barbara Comstock announced yesterday she is resigning in order to take a job at the Washington lobbying and public relations firm Blank Rome Governmental Relations. Comstock is the fourth top Justice Department official to resign in recent months. The others were Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, the criminal division chief, Michael Chertoff and Viet Dinh, head of the Office of Legal Policy.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today hailed India as “one of the most important countries in the world” as he met with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Sharon said the so-called global war on terrorism has created a “strategic triangle” between India, Israel and the United States.
Sharon is heading up a 150-member delegation that includes the heads of major Israeli arms firms. Agence France Press is reporting that the countries are expected to soon sign an agreement where Israel will sell India the billion dollar Phalcon radar system.
Sharon, who is the first Israeli prime minister to visit India, is to visit the tomb of the apostle of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi, who led India’s independence movement.
Amnesty International yesterday issued a report yesterday charging Israel’s widespread use of closures, blockades, checkpoints and curfews in the Occupied Territories, have crippled the Palestinian economy, caused widespread poverty, unemployment and has essentially put 3 and a half million Palestinians under house arrest. Amnesty also called for a halt to the construction of new settlements and the security wall in the West Bank.
The Arabic television channel Al Jazeera is protesting the arrest of its prominent war correspondent Taysir Alouni who has been detained since Friday in Spain. Police there arrested him alleging that he had ties to a Spainish Al Qaeda cell. Since Sept. 11 Alouni has received videotaped messages from Osama Bin Laden and has interviewed him.
Journalists at Al Jazeera and Arab human rights organizations have protested his detention which was extended Monday for at least another 72 hours. A letter of protest from Al Jazeera reads “On several occasions Western journalists met secretly with secret organizations and they were not subjected to any legal actions because they were doing their job, so why is Alouni being excluded?” Police say Alouni has admitted he gave some money and temporary housing to individuals who are suspected members of Al Qaeda. But Alouni said he provided the assistance solely out of solidarity to fellow Syrian exiles, not out of support for Al Qaeda.
And the Recording Industry Association of America yesterday filed more than 250 lawsuits against music listeners who downloaded songs off the Internet. Thousands of more such lawsuits have been threatened. Among those sued was Durwood Pickle, a 71-year-old grandfather in Texas who allowed his grandchildren to use his computer.