The major U.S. report on Saddam Hussein’s pre-war weapons capacity has concluded Iraq had no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion and that most of the country’s weapons of mass destruction were destroyed a decade earlier after the first Gulf War. The 1,000-page report stands in stark contradiction to the Bush administration’s repeated claims before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein posed a global threat because of his stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Weapons inspector Charles Duelfer also reported that Iraq’s capability in restarting its weapons of mass destruction program was eroding at the time of the U.S. invasion. This also contradicts comments by the Bush administration that Saddam posed a growing threat.
In other Iraq news, a car bomb exploded outside an army recruiting center killing at least 12 people in the western town of Anah. Another 25 people were injured.
Meanwhile two major unions representing United Nations employees are calling on Secretary General Kofi Annan to withdraw all UN employees from Iraq as soon as possible because of security concerns. 22 UN employees including Iraq’s UN chief, Sergio Vieira de Mello, were killed in Iraq last year. The request comes as both President Bush and his main challenger, John Kerry, are calling on the United Nations to get more involved in Iraq.
In Britain, former cabinet minister Clare Short yesterday publicly expressed support for the Iraqi resistance which she likened to the French resistance who battled the German occupation in World War II. She said, “killing civilians is always wrong… but I think the cause is just.”
The Pentagon announced yesterday that it is investigating an incident in Iraq caught on a cockpit video camera that reportedly shows U.S. pilots attacking and killing unarmed Iraqi civilians. The investigation was prompted by the footage being broadcast on British television earlier this week.
In other news from Israel, the government has backed off a claim that it has video evidence showing Palestinian militants using a United Nations ambulance to transport rockets. Over the weekend Israel distributed a video to the press and posted it on the Internet that showed a white object being inserted into a UN ambulance. After calling for a UN investigation, Israel is now admitting the white object may not have been a rocket but a white stretcher. The government has taken the video off its website.
Meanwhile the United Nations is accusing Israel of detaining 25 of its workers without charging any of them with a crime or even telling the UN of their detention. This according to a report in the New York Post.
In New York, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau yesterday dropped charges for all 227 people arrested on August 31 during a Republican National Convention protest organized by the War Resisters League. The protesters were attempting to peacefully walk from Ground Zero to Madison Square Garden, the site of the convention. But before the demonstrators walked more than a few blocks, police corralled them with orange netting and arrested everyone inside the netting. Some of the demonstrators were then detained for over 48 hours. The New York Civil Liberties Union Attorney Christopher Dunn said “During the Republican National Convention, the NYPD used mass-arrest tactics to arrest hundreds of demonstrators and bystanders who were doing nothing illegal. The district attorney’s action today should send a strong signal to the NYPD that it must stop using these tactics.”
For the second time in a week, the House ethics committee has admonished Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas for asking federal aviation officials to track an airplane involved in a Texas political dispute, and for conduct that suggested political donations might influence legislative action.
People will soon be able to carry guns and other dangerous firearms onto the grounds of parking lots of Reagan National and Dulles International airports after officials eased what they said were overly restrictive rules. The action comes after pressure from an increasingly high profile Virginia gun rights group that has taken to wearing firearms on their hips to make the case. This according to a report in the Washington Post.
Health clinics across the country are struggling to respond to the nation’s loss of 48 million doses of the flu vaccine. Doctors say million of adults will be forced to forgo getting vaccinated this year. The government is saying the remaining flu shots should be reserved for children under the age of six and for senior citizens as well as for families with infants.
Virginia is considering becoming the first state to embed drivers licenses with radio frequency identification chips. The chips known as RFID chips would store detailed personal information about the individual. Yesterday during a hearing on the issue, Kent Willis of the ACLU of Virginia called on lawmakers to reject the plan because of privacy issues. He said “Almost everyone carries a driver’s license, and RFID chips allow people to be tracked…FBI agents, for example, could sweep up the identities of everyone at a political meeting, protest march, gun show, or Islamic prayer service.”
And in Texas, 59-year-old Ernest Willis walked out of prison yesterday after spending nearly one-third of his life on death row. He was convicted in 1986 of setting fire to a building that killed two sleeping women. During his trial, prosecutors described Willis to jurors as a “satanic demon.” But now the county’s district attorney is saying that Willis is not only innocent but that no crime may have ever been committed. There are strong indications the fire was an accident.
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