CIA Director George Tenet admitted yesterday that he warned senior administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, that they were overstating the threat posed by Iraq. As recently as January, Tenet privately told Cheney that he was wrong to state that two truck trailers recovered in Iraq were “conclusive evidence” that Saddam had a biological weapons program. Tenet told the Senate Armed Forces Committee: “When I believed that somebody was misconstruing intelligence, I said something about it. I don’t stand up publicly and do it.” Tenet also said he planned to warn Cheney again for citing a leaked Pentagon top-secret memorandum that was never cleared by the CIA that linked Saddam Hussein to Osama Bin Laden. Tenet also said he was never told that a special intelligence unit at the Pentagon privately briefed senior officials at the White House on alleged ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. According to the Los Angeles Times, the disclosure suggests that the controversial Pentagon office played a greater role than previously understood in shaping the administration’s views on Iraq by bypassing usual channels to make a case that conflicted with the conclusions of CIA analysts. The office known as the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group was created by Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of Defense for policy, after Sept. 11 2001.
A new study by the University of Maryland found that the U.S. press failed to challenge the government in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. The report’s author, journalism professor Susan Moeller said “Too many journalists acted as virtual stenographers for the current administration, in effect validating President Bush’s linkage of terrorism, Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.”
Obesity may soon be killing as many as 500,000 people a year in the U.S. The head of the Centers for Disease and Control said “Obesity is catching up to tobacco as the leading cause of death in America. If this trend continues it will soon overtake tobacco. This is a tragedy.” In 2000, 64 percent of the country was founded to be obese or overweight. Government critics say the Department of Agriculture should change its policies to subsidize the food industry for makin healthy foods, require labeling at fast-food restaruatns and barring certain sugary, fatty products from schools.
In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government Tuesday approved the commercial farming of genetically modified corn. Britain has tested genetically modified corn but until now none had been commercially grown.
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said Tuesday that he supports a bill that would ban almost all abortions in South Dakota. The signing of the law could lead to a Supreme Court challenge to Roe vs. Wade.
The City Council in San Jose California Monday night voted 8 to 1 to recognize gay marriage licenses granted by San Francisco and other cities. In New Jersey, officials in Asbury Park began marrying same sex couples Monday only to be blocked by the state’s attorney general yesterday. And the Log Cabin Republicans have announced it will launch a $1 million advertising campaigning attacking the administration’s view on same sex marriage.
In campaign news Senator John Kerry easily won primaries Tuesday in Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
In Iraq, the Palestinian hijacker Abu Abbas died in U.S. military custody. U.S. officials said he died of natural causes likely of a heart attack or stroke. In 1985 he masterminded the hijacking of an Italian passenger ship during which a wheelchair-bound American tourist was killed and thrown overboard. The Palestinian Authority had been demanding his release from U.S. custody, saying Washington had pledged not to prosecute him as part of a blanket agreement not to press charges against Palestinians who acted against Israel before interim peace accords were signed in the 1990s.
A leading Saudi judge has joined the country’s clerics in warning Saudis from watching the new Arabic satellite tv station, al-Hurra, that is funded by the U.S. government. Meanwhile in Jordan, the country’s trade unions have called for a boycott of the station which they have described as QUOTE “a new colonial tool that seeks to polish the image of the United States and Israel.”
The leaders of the National Governors Association has written to Congress urging legislators not to enact cuts to Medicaid. The governors warned that states were facing the most severe budget crisis since World War II and that cuts in Medicaid funding could add millions more to the ranks of the uninsured.
Mike Leavitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is scheduled to go before Congress today to defend President Bush’s proposed environmental budget for 2005 which slashes about $600 million or 7.2 percent from the EPA’s budget.
And Police in Miami have set up a wide surveillance campaign of hip hop stars visiting Southern Florida including P. Diddy, DMX, 50 Cent and Ja Rule. According to the Miami Herald, police have been photographing rappers, staking out hotels where they are staying and watching nightclubs. They have also started monitoring all members of their entourages who have arrest records from New York. Anthony DeCurtis, an editor at Rolling Stone magazine, said he has never heard of such extensive surveillance of musicians before. The Miami Herald also reported that police from Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta and other cities went to New York in May for a three-day training session where they were given dossiers on hip hop stars. Police claim they are doing the monitoring in order to protect the stats and are just trying to learn more about hip hop culture. Critics say their lack of understanding is in part due to the lack of African-Americans in power within the police. Only one of 97 officers in supervisory positions at the Miami Beach police department are African-American. In Miami just over 10 percent of the city’s ranking officers are African American.
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