Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick II was sentenced yesterday to eight years in jail for his role in torturing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prsion. The sentencing came one day after he plead guilty to eight counts of abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees. Frederick admitted forcing detainees to masturbate and helping attach wires to a detainee with the intention of making him think he might be electrocuted. He also pleaded guilty to punching a detainee in the chest so hard that a medic was called. He is the highest-ranking of eight soldiers charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. In addition, on Wednesday, he testified that an interrogator from the private company CACI ordered him to use dogs to threaten prisoners.
In Mosul, mortar shells were fired at the entourage of U.S-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi as he was leaving the northern city. Journalists reported hearing five explosions. Allawi was not harmed. When asked about the attack, Allawi suggested he was expecting to face an assassination attempt. He said, “My visit to Mosul had been announced publicly, and I was surprised that this did not happen at the beginning of my visit, but only at the end.” Meanwhile a member of Allawi’s National Accord Party was assassinated in Samarra on Wednesday.
A new U.S. financed poll has found that more Iraqis still feel their country is heading in the wrong direction and that Iraq’s religious leaders would win elections if they were held today. The poll found that leaders of Iraq’s religious parties have emerged as the country’s most popular politicians and would win the largest share of votes if an election were held today. Meanwhile the U.S.-backed government of Allawi is losing serious ground. The Washington Post reports today on the poll conducted by the IRI. The Post reports the Bush administration is hoping the interim president, Iyad Allawi, a former CIA asset, wins the election but that appears unlikely faced with opposition from Iraq’s religious leaders. Less than half the country even supports Allawi serving in the national assembly. The poll found the most popular politician to be Abdel Aziz Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq — a group the U.S. claims is funded by Iran.
Iraqi support of the current U.S.-backed government is plumetting. In late summer 62 percent of Iraqis said the new government was being effective. Today that figures stands at just 43 percent. One U.S. official told the Post “The picture it paints is that, after all the blood and treasure we’ve spent and despite the [U.S.-led] occupation’s democracy efforts, we’re in a position now that the moderates would not win if an election were held today.”
Middle East analyst Juan Cole is reporting a Baqubah mosque leader was arrested by Iraqi police for allegedly urging on the resistance and funding it. The preacher, Shaikh Muhammad Ali Samarra’i, regularly uses his Friday prayers sermons to call for a rejection of U.S. presence in Iraq. Meanwhile the New York Times is reporting that senior Bush administration officials are now admitting privately that Iraq’s resistance has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than had been previously estimated.
Agence France Press is reporting the Iraqi government has lost some $7 billion in oil money due to sabotage and lack of funding. Iraq’s production of oil is so low it has been forced to begin importing $200 million worth of oil every month.
Meanwhile in the Guardian of London, jouranlist Naomi Klein reports that the cash-strapped Iraqi governnent was forced yesterday to pay $200 million in reparations to foreign countries and corporations stemming from Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Since Hussein was toppled the post-Hussein Iraqi government had paid out a total of $1.8 billion in reparations — and nearly 80 percent of that has gone to foreign corporations. According to Klein millions will go to U.S. corporations who claimed there business was somehow harmed — even if in the most indirect way — by the Kuwait invasion. Some of the corporations profiting include Texaco, Halliburton, Bechtel, Mobil, Shell, Nestle, Pepsi, Phillip Morris, Sheraton hotels, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Toys R Us.
Former CIA Director George Tenet admitted to an audience in Michigan that the invasion of Iraq was “wrong.” This according to a report by the Michigan newspaper The Herald Palladium. Tenet’s comment came while speaking before the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan.
Senate Democrat Carl Levin yesterday issued a 46-page report charging that one of the Pentagon’s top officials, Douglas Feith, deceived Congress by asserting U.S. intelligence had definitively established ties between the government of Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Levin said that Feith was misrepresenting what the intelligence said as recently as January 2004. Levin called on the Armed Services Committee to take “appropriate action” against Feith.
A new report by the Physicians for a National Health Program has found nearly 1.7 million military veterans have no health insurance or access to government hospitals and clinics for veterans. The study reported the number of uninsured veterans jumped by 235,000 since 2000 and that veterans are losing their health insurance at a rate faster than the general population.
The United Nations warned yesterday that northern Uganda is suffering the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world. The head of UN’s humanitarian affairs estimated 20,000 children are caught up in a war and 1.6 million people have been displaced.
Russia’s lower house of parliament is expected to vote today on the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. If it is approved the international treaty on climate change will go into force as a legally binding document.
In Cuba, 78-year-old President Fidel Castro is recovering from a fall Wednesday night during which he fractured his knee and arm. Castro fell to the floor at a televised ceremony. In Washington, when the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, was asked Thursday whether he wanted to wish Castro a speedy recovery, he replied, “No.” This according to a report in the Washington Post.
And in Boston, a 21-year-old journalist student celebrating the Red Sox victory died yesterday after she was shot in the eye by a police officer with a so-called non-lethal projectile. Police shot projectiles doused in pepper spray at a crowd who took to the streets to celebrate the Red Sox victory over the New York Yankees.
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