A year ago tonight the U.S. invasion of Iraq began. To mark the anniversary scores of protests throughout the world are scheduled tomorrow as part of a global day of protest against war.
In France French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told the French newspaper Le Monde today that “the Iraq war hasn’t led to a more stable world.”
And a day before the anniversary the president of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski said that he felt he was mislead about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. But unlike other countries including Spain and Honduras, Poland said it had no plans to pull its troops out of Iraq.
Meanwhile Secretary of State Colin Powell landed in Baghdad to mark the one year anniversary. This morning more than 20 Arab journalists walked out of a Powell press conference in Iraq protesting the death of two Iraqi journalists from the Arabic news channel Al-Arabiya who were allegedly killed by the US Thursday. According to the station, one of their cameramen and correspondents witnessed a car accident between a U.S. vehicle and an Iraqi. Fearing a car bombing, they ran from the scene and were shot. The U.S. claimed it killed only one person when he tried to run through a check point. Meanwhile in Northern Iraq three Iraq journalists were killed by gunmen. They had been working for a TV station funded by the U.S.-led coalition.
In other Iraq news, the BBC is reporting the Bush administration fired General Jay Garner from overseeing the Iraq occupation last year because he advocated for free elections and rejected privatizing Iraqi industries. He told the BBC “My preference was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can, and do it with some form of elections … I just thought it was necessary to rapidly get the Iraqis in charge of their destiny.”
In Pakistan near the Afghanistan border, thousands of Pakistani soldiers–with US help–have launched an offensive against a large group of suspected Al Qaeda members who are cornered in an isolated mountaneous region. The US has worked with the Pakistani forces by supplying Predator drones and U2 spy planes. On Thursday Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said his troops had ringed a “high-value target.” The U.S. is hoping the target is Ayman al-Zawahri, a top member of Al Qaeda, but there is little hard evidence he is there. Zawahri is believed to be Osama Bin Laden’s spiritual advisor and doctor as well as the architect of Al Qaeda’s ideology. The US has offered a $25 million reward for his capture. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the House doubled its reward for capturing Osama bin Laden to $50 million.
News of the possible capture came Thursday just hours after Secretary of State Colin Powell announced in Pakistan that the U.S. has upgraded Pakistan to “major non-NATO ally” status. This will make it easier for the country to buy U.S. made weapons.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia issued a 21-page memo Thursday saying he would not recuse himself in a case involving Vice President Cheney. Scalia had come under intense criticism after it was revealed he went duck hunting with Cheney at a time the court was deciding whether it should force Cheney to make public the minutes from his energy task force meetings. Scalia wrote “A rule that required Members of this Court to remove themselves from cases in which the official actions of friends were at issue would be utterly disabling.”
Meanwhile 13 Republican members of Congress are now asking Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to withdraw from all future cases related to abortion because she has spoken at events sponsored by the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.
In campaign news, Republican Senator John McCain broke with party ranks to defend Senator John Kerry’s record on defense. McCain said “I do not believe that he is, quote, ’weak on defense. This kind of rhetoric, I think, is not helpful in educating and helping the American people make a choice.” Despite the comment, McCain said he is still supporting Bush. On Wednesday Vice President Cheney said “The senator from Massachusetts has given us ample doubts about his judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security.”
In Taiwan, the country’s president and vice president were both shot just hours before the country goes to the polls. The two were campaigning together in an open-air motorcade. The President Chen Shui-bian was shot in the stomach and his Vice President Annette Lu was shot in the knee. Both were hospitalized and then released. Sunday’s election is expected to proceed. In addition to choosing a president voters will be asked if China should reduce its military threat against the island.