More evidence has emerged that US troops in Iraq carried out extensive torture inside Iraqi jails. Newly released military documents show Marines carried out mock executions, used electric shocks and burned prisoners. The documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that at least13 Marines were court martialed for taking part in the abuse. Some were jailed. The names of the Marines were blacked out of the documents. None of there cases had been previously reported. In one case, three marines were convicted after they “ordered four juvenile Iraqi looters to kneel beside two shallow fighting holes and a pistol was discharged to conduct a mock execution”. The American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the documents, has accused the Pentagon of withholding more information on torture in Iraq. Meanwhile the Pentagon has admitted that at least eight detainees have died in US custody in Afghanistan. The admission came following a critical report by Human Rights Watch that assailed the military’s “culture of impunity” on prisoner abuse.
In other news from Iraq, the country’s defense minister Hazem Shaalann claimed today that Iranian and Syrian intelligence agents were supporting the Iraqi resistance and he warned that a pro-Iranian Shiite could win next month’s election. Hazem Shaalann said “They are fighting us because we want to build freedom and democracy and they want to build an Islamic dictatorship and have turbaned clerics to rule in Iraq.” Some polls show that backers of pro-Iranian Hussain al-Shahristani could win the election. The defense minister’s warning came on the first day of campaigning for the January elections.
The government also announced today that the man nicknamed “Chemical Ali” will be the first of Saddam Hussein’s top aides to be tried. Ali Hassan al-Majid has been accused of gassing the Kurds.
Meanwhile eight more bodies have been discovered in Mosul. About 150 bodies have been found in the northern city over the past month.
And the Polish government has announced it in cutting the size of its force in Iraq by about a third, from 2500 troops to 1700.
The head of the British Red Cross has warned that the Bush administration’s “war on terror” has threatened the capacity of the Red Cross and Red Crescent to operate in areas of conflict. While visiting Iraq Sir Nicholas Young said “I had a very strong sense that we were regarded as the occupying powers. And this was something I hadn’t felt before.” Young said the Red Cross’s mission was severely jeopardized when Secretary of State Colin Powell called humanitarian aid “an important part of our combat force” in Iraq. Young also told the Guardian of London that the US-led coalition has been in defiance of international law in Iraq.
In Haiti, hundreds of United Nations troops raided the Cite Soleil section of Port Au Prince Tuesday populated by many supporters of ousted President Jean Betrand Aristide. The BBC reports Brazilian, Chilean and Sri Lankan troops took part in the operation, backed by the Chilean air force, as well as Chinese and Jordanian riot police. The United Nations is planning to set up a permanent presence in the area. The US-backed government of Gerard Latortue has blamed backers of Aristide for much of the political violence since the February coup.
The Unocal Corporation of California has agreed to settle a human rights case filed by 15 Burmese villagers who were raped and killed by soldiers guarding a natural gas pipeline owned by Unocal. Human rights activists have hailed the settlement as a landmark test in holding multinational companies responsible in the United States for atrocities committed abroad.
In the Occupied Territories, Haaretz is reporting that the Palestinian group Hamas has rejected Mahmood Abbas’ position that the armed intifada has to end. On Tuesday Abbas called the armed uprising a mistake and said it must end.
Cuba Stages War Games; Signs Pact w/ Venezuela
In news from Cuba, the country’s armed forces are conducting its biggest military exercise in almost 20 years. Hundreds of thousands of troops and millions of civilians are expected to participate. The exercise is meant to be a warning to Washington that Cuba defend itself against a US attack. Meanwhile Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has traveled to Havana to meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro. They announced the formation of a new trade bloc to challenge the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
In media news, Fox News has announced it has hired retiring Georgia Senator Zell Miller to work as a commentator for the network. Miller was the sole Democrat to speak at this year’s Republican National Convention.
Inuit leaders are expected to announce today that they will seek a ruling from an international court that the U.S. government’s position on global warming is threatening their existence as a people. About 155,000 Inuit, or Eskimos, live around the Arctic where the icecaps have begun to melt. The New York Times reports the Inuit are casting the issue as no longer simply an environmental problem but as an assault on their basic human rights. The announcement to seek a ruling from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is expected to be announced in Buenos Aires at the 10th round of international talks on climate change.
Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has announced his resignation at the University of Notre Dame after failing to obtain a visa to enter the United State. The State Department has yet to tell Ramadan or Notre Dame why Ramadan’s visa was rejected claiming the decision is classified. But the government has admitted his visa was denied under a section of US law that bars terrorists and their associates. Ramadan is well-regarded in intellectual circles as a scholar who seeks to bridge the Western and Muslim worlds. The Washington Post reports he has drawn criticism from some Muslims that he is not Muslim enough and from some Westerners that he is insufficiently Western.
In Greece, two armed men have hijacked a bus carrying 25 people. The hijackers are demanding a million Euro and to be flown to Russia.
And the number of hungry and homeless in the country has increased for the 20th year in a row. Requests for emergency food increased by 14 percent and the requests for shelter increased by six percent. The figures were released in a report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.