This news from Iraq: an NBC cameraman has caught on tape video of a US Marine shooting dead an unarmed and wounded Iraqi prisoner in a mosque in Fallujah. The NBC correspondent Kevin Sites said the Iraqi man who was killed was one of five Iraqis who had been injured after the US raided a Fallujah mosque. Another 10 Iraqis had already been killed in the raid. The Marine is heard on tape claiming the Iraqi was faking his death. A marine can be heard saying on the pool footage provided to Reuters, “He’s [expletive] faking he’s dead. He faking he’s [expletive] dead.” The marine then raises his rifle and fires into the man’s head. The Marine involved in the shooting has been removed from the field and was being questioned by the US military. The NBC correspondent on the scene said the shot prisoner “did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way”. The shooting came on the same day that another US soldier was charged with murder for the killing of an Iraqi detainee in Baghdad.
In news from Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell has resigned and President Bush is expected to nominate National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice to fill the position as early as today. The move is expected to make the Bush administration more hawkish and hardline. One of the chief neoconservative leaders of the nation, Gary Schmitt of the Project For the New American Century praised the selection of Rice. Schmitt told the Washington Post “Condi knows what the president wants to accomplish and agrees with it.” The secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, told CNN last night that Powell was the “voice of moderation” in the Bush administration. While Powell’s resignation was expected the Washington Post is reporting that Powell considered staying and had prepared a list of conditions under which he would be willing to stay. The list included “greater engagement with Iran and a harder line with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.” The Washington Post reports Powell was not asked to stay on board after he distributed his conditions for staying. Like Alberto Gonzalez who has been tapped to serve as Attorney General, Rice is seen as extremely loyal to President Bush. The Bush administration is expected to nominate Rice’s deputy Stephen Hadley to become the country’s new National Security Advisor.
Three Other Cabinet Members Resign
In addition to Powell, Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham all announced their resignations yesterday.
In Iraq, the US military is claiming it has secured Fallujah but resistance continues to spread to other parts of the country. The Iraqi resistance launched attacks yesterday in Baquba, Mosul, Kirkuk and Suwaira. Police stations were stormed. Oil wells were set ablaze. And several suicide car bombings targeted U.S. troops. At least 50 Iraqis died in fighting across the country. In Baquba, the fighting was so intense, the US dropped a pair of 500 pound bombs on the city killing 20. In Mosul, the US has diverted some 1,000 troops from the attack on Fallujah to fight the Iraqi resistance in this northern city.
In Fallujah the civilian death toll from the 8-day assault is still unknown. Yesterday the US military refused to allow an aid convoy from the Iraqi Red Crescent to enter the city. The convoy was carrying food, water and medical supplies. Even doctors inside Fallujah have said they could do little to help injured Iraqis because if they left their houses they would be shot dead. One doctor told the Los Angeles Times “I saw the injured people on the street, covered in blood, staggering, screaming, shouting, 'Help me! Help me!' but we could not get out and help them because we would be killed.”
Meanwhile the U.S. military is now claiming it has captured just over 1,000 suspected insurgents in Fallujah. Although the US military had been claiming Fallujah was filled with foreign fighters all but a dozen of the captured men are Iraqis.
The New York Times is reporting that nearly 2,000 former U.S. soldiers are resisting orders to return to duty. The military has sent notices to more than 4,000 former soldiers on the Individual Ready Reserve — 1800 of them have already requested exemptions or delays. Of the 2500 who were supposed to attend training last week, over 700 did not show up.
In news from Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported yesterday that it has found no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program despite such claims by the Bush administration.
In election news, the Green Party has announced that it has raised $150,000 over the past week, enough to file the required fee for a statewide recount of the vote in Ohio. The Green Party and its 2004 nominee David Cobb have said the recount is needed because of widespread reports of voting problems in Ohio including reports of mis-marked and discarded ballots, problems with electronic voting machines and the targeted disenfranchisement of African American voters. Meanwhile in electronic voting news, the Indiana TV station WTVW is reporting the a recently uncovered electronic voting glitch has altered the results of the vote for the County Commissioners race in Indiana’s Franklin County. The glitch caused some machines to record votes for Democratic candidates for Libertarians. When the votes were re-counted after the glitch was uncovered, the Democratic candidate had won enough new votes to beat the Republican candidate who had been named the winner.
In political news, President Bush has selected his former campaign manager Ken Mehlman to be the new head of the Republican National Committee. Mehlman is seen by many as a protégée of presidential advisor Karl Rove.
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader yesterday called for the resignation of Terry McAuliffe, the head of the Democratic National Committee. Nader said, “You have taken the Democratic base for granted and as a result are losing support among Americans who should be supporting an alternative to the Republican Party.”
The Sunday Times of London is reporting that it has obtained evidence that the US government is leasing a special Gulfstream Jet to transport detained suspects to other nations that routinely use torture in their prisons. Logs for the airplane show the Pentagon and CIA has used the plane more than 300 times and dropped off detainees in Syria, Egypt and Uzbekistan.