The Washington Post has revealed the CIA has been operating a top-secret detention center inside Guantanamo Bay base isolated from the Pentagon’s jail and outside the reach of the International Red Cross. The Post reports the president has signed a directive that allows the CIA to capture and detained certain types of suspects without accounting for them in any public way and without revealing the rules for their treatment. The roster of who has been disappeared by the CIA is not made public. One military official described the unit as “off-limits to nearly everyone on the base.” The level of secrecy is so high about the CIA jail that the Washington Post reported it could not confirm if the jail is even still open. Since Sept. 11 the CIA has operated a number of these top secret jails including the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, on ships at sea, on the island of Diego Garcia and in Thailand.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is coming under increasing criticism by conservative lawmakers and backers of the Iraq invasion who have had all but called for his resignation. Earlier in the week Senator John McCain said he had “no confidence” in Rumsfeld. Senator Trent Lott called on Rumsfeld to be replaced within the next year. He said, “I am not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld. I don’t think he listens to his uniformed officers.” Conservative thinker and writer William Kristol said, “These soldiers deserve a better defense secretary than the one we have.” This all comes just two weeks after president Bush asked Rumsfeld to stay in his cabinet.
In other cabinet news, the Financial Times reports Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan rejected an offer to replace Treasury Secretary John Snow. The offer was extended by senior Republicans and not officially the White House.
In another sign of the deteriorating situation in Iraq, the Christian Science Monitor reports the country’s total war spending will increase by at least 25 percent this fiscal year. The paper found the total cost of the US military effort in Afghanistan and Iraq through next year will almost certainly surpass $200 billion
The National Guard has fallen about 30 percent short of recruiting in October and November leaving the guard 10,000 troops short of its authorized size. In response the guard is hiring 1400 more military recruiters — a near 50 percent spike. The Guard has also tripled its retention bonus. Meanwhile new Pentagon statistics show that more than 5,000 soldiers have now been charged with desertion from bases in the U.S. and overseas since the invasion of Iraq in early 2003. And a U.S. Army veteran who fought in Iraq has been hospitalized after a friend shot him in the foot. Police say the solider, 23-year-old Specialist Marquise Roberts had a friend shot him in order to prevent him from going back to Iraq to fight.
In news from Iraq, former president Saddam Hussein has met with his attorney for the first time since being captured a year ago this week. The first of Hussein’s top aides are expected to go on trial for war crimes beginning next week. Most of them have yet to see attorneys.
The Guardian of London reports Britain is facing a near constitutional crisis following Thursday’s high court ruling condemning the government’s anti-terror laws. The court ruled the British government can not indefinitely detain foreign terrorism suspects without trying them in court. The decision came less than 24 hours after the main architect of the law, Home Secretary David Blunkett, resigned over a personal scandal. In court, one judge declared the anti-terror laws posed a threat to the British people. He said, “The real threat to the life of the nation… comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these.” Another judge said the legislation reminded him of “Soviet Russia in the Stalinist era.”
In Canada, Prime Minister Paul Martin has announced Ottawa will not help the United States fund a missile defense shield and will also not allow Washington to station rockets for the system insides it border. The announcement is the second setback for the program this week. On Wednesday a major test of the system failed.
In news from Capitol Hill, Public Citizen is criticizing retiring Congressman Billy Tauzin for taking a $2 million post to head the country’s largest pharmaceutical lobbying firm. The watchdog group said the hiring indicated Washington’s revolving door between Capitol Hill and the lobbying world has spun out of control. Meanwhile Center for Responsive Politics reports the pharmaceutical industry donated more than $200,000 to Tauzin’s campaigns over the past 15 years.
In news from Israel, the Israeli soldier on trial for killing 22-year-old British peace activist Tom Hurndall in the Gaza Strip has admitted he was lying when he said his victim was carrying a gun. This according to the Guardian of London. Hurndall was killed in April 2003 as he tried to shelter children from Israeli gunfire. On the witness stand Israeli Sergeant Idier Wahid Taysir said he was under orders to open fire even on unarmed people.
Earlier today in Southern Gaza Israeli troops killed three Palestinians and demolished several houses. Meanwhile five Palestinians are trapped in a tunnel that collapsed as it was being dug under an Israeli-controlled security strip along the Egyptian border.
Outgoing Georgia Senator Zell Miller is in the news again. A day after Fox News hired the arch-conservative Democrat to work as a commentator, the American Conservative Union has announced it has tapped Miller to present a “Courage Under Fire” award to the Swift Boat Veterans who attacked John Kerry’s war record.
And police in Maryland have arrested and charged a security guard from Security Services of America with setting a massive fire that caused $10 million in damage at a luxury housing development under construction. Officials called it the largest residential arson in Maryland history. 26 houses were damaged including 10 that were destroyed. Originally police suggested the fires may have been the work of environmentalists opposed to the decision to locate the new houses next to an environmental reserve.
And in TV news, Bill Moyers is retiring tonight from his show Now on PBS. Over the past three decades, Moyers has won over thirty Emmys and produced a string of groundbreaking documentaries. Upon his retirement from Now, Moyers told the Associated Press, “I’m going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee.” He went on to say, “We have an ideological press that’s interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that’s interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don’t have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people.”