The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a federal court ruling that allows for the government to secretly arrest and detain people inside the United States. Without comment the court decided not to review a lower court ruling that backed up the Bush administration’s post 9/11 policy in which hundreds of Muslim men were secretly picked up and detained. The Justice Department refused to release the names of the detainees or their charges claiming the release of information could jeopardize national security. This comes after the Supreme Court decided to hear appeals in cases involving detainees at Guantanamo Bay and the detention of so-called enemy combatants. Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said Monday the court has now given its blessing to “a secrecy regime in which arrests are off the public docket, people are held in secret, deported in secret.”
The Reuters news agency has filed a formal complaint with the Pentagon over the “wrongful” arrest and apparent “brutalization” of three of its staff this month by US troops in Iraq. This according to a report in the Guardian of London. The three Reuters staff members–all of whom were Iraqi–were shot at and then detained for 72 hours after they attempted to cover the story of a downed U.S. helicopter. The U.S. reportedly placed bags over the heads of the detainees and threatened to send them to Guantanamo Bay. In one instance a U.S. soldier shoved a shoe into the mouth of one of the Iraqis. One source told the Guardian, “They were brutalised, terrified and humiliated for three days. It was pretty grim stuff. There was mental and physical abuse.” The source added: “It makes you wonder what happens to ordinary Iraqis.” The U.S. claims they detained the men after the soldiers came under fire from gunmen wearing jackets that read PRESS. The Guardian reported a spokeswoman for the US military’s coalition press and information centre in Baghdad hung up when a reporter asked her to comment.
Meanwhile the New Yorker has published a piece on the Bush administration this week in which President Bush tells the magazine “No President has ever done more for human rights than I have.”
On Monday night in Baghdad, U.S. soldiers killed an Iraqi man and his 10-year-old son who were driving behind a U.S. military convoy. This according to the New York Times. An Iraqi police man told the Times, “You want to know the truth? I’ll tell you the truth. The Americans did this. I know after this conversation they will fire me from my job, but that’s what happened.” Apparently the soldiers opened fire on the car after a roadside bomb went off nearby.
In Samarra occupation soldiers killed seven Iraqis who were suspected of siphoning oil from a pipeline.
In western Iraq, Iraqi forces shot down a U.S. helicopter today marking the third time in two weeks a U.S. helicopter has been downed. The two crew members survived. One U.S. soldier also died Monday bringing the U.S. death toll since the start of the invasion to just under 500. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has suffered its 100th fatality since it invaded two years ago.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer is reporting that nearly as many U.S. soldiers were wounded in Iraq last month as during the entire six-week period of major combat operations. The figures are based on Pentagon statistics compiled by the GlobalSecurity.org think thank. Its director John Pike said “It suggests that the level of intensity of operations over there is a lot higher than would be suggested by the 'killed in action' numbers. … The 'killed in action' numbers suggest that we’re winning the war, and the wounded in action numbers suggest that we’re losing.” Based on Pentagon figures, Pike said 530 U.S. troops were wounded in December slightly less than the 550 wounded during the six weeks of combat operations.
The U.S. Treasury Department has announced it will investigate whether former Treasurer Secretary Paul O’Neill illegally disclosed internal documents from the Bush administration to reporters. O’Neill came public this week saying Bush decided to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government almost as soon as he took office. O’Neill, who also served as a member of the National Security Council, says the administration never had evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And O’Neill said during cabinet meetings Bush acted like “a blind man in a room full of deaf people.” One of the internal documents O’Neill showed reporters revealed that the Bush administration was considering how to split up Iraqis oil supply months before the Sept. 11 attacks. O’Neill is the highest-ranking official to part ways publicly with Bush. Regarding the Treasury Department probe, the political website TalkingPointsMemo.com notes that it took the Bush administration 74 days to announce an investigation about who within the White House outted the CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporters. Meanwhile It took the administration less than one day to announce an investigation of Paul O’Neill for possibly revealing secret information.
According to the New York Daily News, the federal 9/11 commission plans to ask for meetings with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and former president Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. The requests to appear will not be legally binding. A spokesperson from the commission also said the panel may seek to extend its investigation by several months beyond the May deadline. This will likely cause debate in Washington as to whether the commission’s findings should be released before or after the November presidential elections. Based on preliminary comments from the commissioners, the panel’s findings could be embarrassing to President Bush. The head of the commission Thomas Kean recently said about the Sept. 11 attacks, “As you read the report, you’re going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn’t done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen.””
In the Mexican city of Monterrey, a summit of more than 30 leaders from across the Americas has opened. Before the summit President Bush met privately with Mexican President Vicente Fox. Fox backed Bush’s new immigration proposal that would permit millions of Mexican workers to legally work temporarily in the United States. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin hinted that he was upset with new U.S. border policies. He said borders “must be open to our respective populations going back and forth.”
Meanwhile in Venezuela on the eve of the summit, President Hugo Chavez charged the United States was plotting to overthrow him through a coup or assassination if he is not ousted by a citizen referendum.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is planning to run for her old seat in November against the woman who beat her two years ago, Democrat Denise Majette. The newspaper said McKinney’s father confirmed her intentions on Sunday. The announcement came a day after Cynthia McKinney issued a statement turning down an invitation from the Green Party to run on its ticket for president. During her last term in Congress McKinney was one of the most vocal critics of the Bush administration, the so-called war on terror and U.S. support for Israel.
And the actor and monologist Spalding Gray, has been reported missing by his wife. Gray who is best known for writing “Swimming to Cambodia” has suffered from depression in the past and tried commit suicide two years ago.
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