In Britain, calls are increasing for Prime Minister Tony Blair to make a full apology to the House of Commons over the way his government used faulty intelligence to make the case for war against Iraq. Yesterday the British government formally admitted that one of its main claims regarding Saddam Hussein’s threat to the world was false. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said yesterday that the government no longer stands behind its claim that Iraq had the ability to launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes. Opponents of the war in Britain are now calling on Blair to come before Parliament to answer questions about Iraq. One liberal Democrat said, “The Iraq Survey Group Report shows beyond doubt that we went to war in Iraq on a false premise. The Prime Minister must not avoid these questions any longer and he should not bypass Parliament.”
In Iraq, US troops entered Ramadi yesterday, arrested a leading Sunni clergyman and raided seven mosques. The head of one mosque said, “This cowboy behavior cannot be accepted. The Americans seem to have lost their senses and have gone out of control.”
Meanwhile in Fallujah, the daily U.S. air raids continue killing at least 11 people including two at one of the city’s most popular restaurants.
The Washington Post reports tension is increasing in Fallujah between the Iraq national resistance and foreign fighters based there. The Post reports local residents are now blaming the likes of Abu Musab Zarqawi for the daily US air attacks. One resident said of Zarqawi, “He is mentally deranged, has distorted the image of the resistance and defamed it. I believe his end is near.”
In other Iraq news, the New York Times reports that the unelected Iraqi Prime Minsiter Iyad Allawi is making moves to allow more former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party back into the new government despite protests from the Shiite and Kurdish populations. Allawi is a former Baathist himself.
In Baghdad, three U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday when a bomb exploded near their convoy. The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq is now 1,072.
Meanwhile back at home, a group of soldiers who recently returned from Iraq have taken the unusual step of producing a TV advertisement criticizing the war. The group is known as Operation Truth. The ad features Robert Acosta who lost his arm in the war.
A coalition of over 650 foreign affairs specialists calling themselves “Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy,” have signed an open letter opposing President Bush and are accusing of him of having the most misguided foreign policy since the Vietnam War era. The letter charges that American actions in Iraq have made Osama Bin Laden more popular in some countries than President Bush. The letter reads, “This increased popularity makes it easier for al-Qaida to raise money, attract recruits, and carry out its terrorist operations than would otherwise be the case.’ The signatories include former staff members at the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council, as well as six of the last seven Presidents of the American Political Science Association.
Hans Blix: Iraq Invasion Has “Stimulated Terrrorism
Meanwhile former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has charged the US invasion of Iraq has “stimulated terrorism” around the globe. Blix told the BBC, “I think, like everybody else, that it is good that Saddam is gone. The world is better off without Saddam. But the world is not any safer. If this was meant to be a signal to terrorists to stop their activities, it has failed miserably, it has stimulated terrorism.”
Haaretz is reporting today that the CIA is running a top-secret interrogation facility in Jordan where it is detaining at least 11 of Al Qaida’s top leaders including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The news comes a day after Human Rights Watch issued a report criticizing the top-secret detentions center. According to the group, the location of the detention center has been so secret that President George Bush asked the CIA heads not to report it to him. Until now the whereabouts of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other Al Qaeda leaders has been unknown. Haaretz reports that their detention outside the U.S. enables CIA interrogators to apply interrogation methods that are banned by U.S. law. According to the Human Rights Watch report, the CIA was granted special permission by the U.S. law enforcement authorities to operate “other laws” at the secret facility with regard to interrogation methods. Detainees are subjected to physical and psychological pressure that includes the use of simulated drowning, loud music, sleep deprivation, and sensory deprivation. Some of these methods were exposed with the revelation of torture techniques used by American interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross are warning the residents of Gaza are facing serious food shortages and on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. Some 15,000 Palestinians in northern Gaza have been living under siege without access to food, water and hospitals since September 28 when Israel launched a major offensive that has already killed over 100 Palestinians. To compound the problem Al Jazeera reports Israel has blocked international humanitarian staff from the UN from entering Gaza since Sept. 21.
In other news from Gaza, Haaretz is reporting the Israeli military has suspended a military commander following the shooting death of 13-year-old Palestinian girl last week. The unarmed girl was reportedly shot as many as 20 times. Meanwhile a 10-year-Palestinian girl was shot in the stomach yesterday by Israel forces while she was attending class at a UN school in the Khan Yunis refugee camp. Last month, a 10-year-old girl was killed by Israeli gunfire while sitting at her desk at the same school. And in Hebron, Israeli forces today arrested a senior military leader of the Palestinian group Hamas.
The Nevada tv station KLAS is reporting workers at a Republican-funded voter registration company charge that hundreds, and perhaps thousands of voter registration forms signed by Democrats were thrown into the trash. The company, Voters Outreach of America, has employed up to 300 part time workers in Nevada collecting new voter registrations across the country. What the company didn’t tell the new voters is that it is funded by the Republican National Committee. The workers allege the company sorted through the new registration forms, appropriately submitted the Republican forms and tossed the Democratic forms. This could possibly leave thousands of Democratic voters who thought they were registered unable to vote in the presidential election. Meanwhile in Florida, the Washington Post reports that African American leaders are complaining that voting officials in Duval County are unfairly rejecting new voter registrations from Democrats. An analysis by the Post found county officials were flagging Democratic registrations at three times the rate as Republicans. And no group has more flagged registrations than African Americans.
In science news, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has soared over the past two years raising new concerns that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming. The Guardian of London reports that some scientists fear that the greater than normal rises in C02 emissions mean that instead of decades to bring global warming under control we may have only a few years. At worst, scientists say the figures could be the first sign of the breakdown in the Earth’s natural systems for absorbing the gas which would make the planet’s soaring temperature become impossible to contain.