For the first time since the invasion of Iraq began, photos of flag-drapped coffins returning from Iraq have begun appearing in the press. The Pentagon enacted a ban on such photos on the eve of the invasion.
On Sunday the Seattle Times ran a photo of caskets that was taken in Kuwait by an employee of the military contractor Maytag Aircraft. The worker who took the photo and her husband have since been fired after the Pentagon complained to Maytag.
And now some 350 photos of flag-draped caskets that were taken by the military have appeared on the internet. The website, the memory hole dot org, received the photos from the Air Force after filing a request via the Freedom of Information Act. The photos are appearing on the front covers of newspapers across the country today, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe. According to the New York TImes, all of the major TV news channel ran photos as well, with one exception — Fox News.
Meanwhile the Defense Department has ordered no more such photos be released.
Bush administration officials confirmed they still plan to hand sovereignty over to the Iraqis on June 30 but administration officials admitted the post-June 30th Iraqi goverment would have little power to do anything. The still-to-be-formed government would have no power to enact or change laws. And it would have no power over its own police forces or military nor the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, “The interim government should not have a law-making body. We don’t believe that the period between the first of July and the end of December should be a time for making new laws.”
The Boston Globe is reporting the US has been forced to shift hundreds of millions of dollars from reconstruction and humanitarian projects in Iraq to rebuild police stations that have come under attack and to train new Iraqi military and police recruits because of the high level of deserters. The military is now estimating 10 percent of the U.S.-trained Iraqi forces have joined the resistance and another 40 percent have quit. Meanwhile according to USA Today the US now plans to recruit Iraqis to form an elite volunteer unit that to fight the Iraqi resitsance movement.
60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl told an audience in Virginia Wednesday that she regretted how she covered two segments before the invasion of Iraq that cast doubt on Iraq’s claims that it had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. She said “I look on those two stories as mistakes, journalistic mistakes. I made them, and I regret it.”
In Haiti, a former leader of the country’s death squads, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, surrendered to justice officials yesterday. Chamblain was sentenced in absentia to life in prison in 2000 for killing supporters of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. He was also a leader of the paramilitary group FRAPH, the Front for the Advancement of Progress of the Haitian People, that is believed to have killed 3,000 civilians during the 1990s. Chamblain fled to the Dominican Republican in 1994 but returned in February to help lead the U.S.-backed ouster of Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president.
A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va. decided Thursday restore the government’s death penalty case against alleged 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui.
In North Korea, two-fuel laden freight trains collided in a highly populated area. 1800 homes have been reportedly destroyed. Estimates on the death toll vary wildly. Initial reports had 3,000 people dead. But North Korea is reporting only 54 people have died.
In California, a state advisory panel said Thursday that the state should ban the use of 15,000 touch-screen voting machines in the November election because the equipment manufactured by Diebold malfunctioned last month.
In Guatemala, President Oscar Berger has joined the heads of Congress and the Supreme Court in publicly acknowledging the government’s responsibility for the 1990 killing of human rights activist Myrna Mack.
A top British medical journal is reporting that major drug companies are withholding studies that suggest several popular antidepressants like Paxil and Zoloft are not safe or effective enough to warrant their use by children.
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