In Iraq, eight U.S. soldiers have died today in a car bomb explosion south of Baghdad. Two others died in separate incidents bringing the total US death toll in Iraq to 737.
Meanwhile In Fallujah, CNN is reporting Iraqi and U.S. Marine generals have reached a tentative agreement that would hand over control of Fallujah to the new Iraqi army.
A New York Times report is claiming that some within the Pentagon now believe many of the attacks against US forces in Iraq have been carried out by members of Saddam Hussein’s secret service who planned the insurgency before the fall of Baghdad. One governmental official told the New York Times, “They carefully laid plans to occupy the occupiers. They were prepared to try and hijack the country. The goal was to complicate the stabilization mission, and democratization.” The Times admits it hasn’t seen the report that was prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency. Its based on reports by unnamed governmental officials who claimed to have seen it.
Meanwhile a new poll in Iraq has shown that opposition to the US occupation is widespread. 57 percent of Iraqis want the US to leave Iraq immediately. In Baghdad the percentage is at 75 percent.
Here in the United States, a new CBS/New York Times poll released Wednesday found President Bush’s approval rating at an all-time. Less than half the country now support the invasion of Iraq. Despite Bush’s falling ratings the poll found he remains in a statistical dead heat with Senator John Kerry for president.
And 60 Minutes II aired photos last night of US soldiers abusing Iraqis prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. The prison was notorious during Saddam Hussein’s era as a torture center. One showed an Iraqi prisoner with electric wires attached to his genitals; another showed a dog attacking a prisoner and a third showed prisoners being forced to simulate having sex with each other. Last month the Army announced it had suspended 17 soldiers over allegations of abuse of prisoners. The military announced today a U.S. general has also now been suspended. One U.S. soldier interviewed by 60 Minutes said he had received little training on treating prisoners and said that he had never seen a copy of the Geneva Convention which governs the treatment of soldiers.
The Los Angeles Times has learned a senior Pentagon official is under investigation for altering a multi-million dollar mobile phone contract proposal in Iraq that would have benefited his friends and colleagues. According to the Times, deputy undersecretary for international technology security John Shaw is believed to be the first senior Pentagon official investigated for wrongdoing in connection with the massive $18.4-billion package funded by U.S. taxpayers to help rebuild Iraq.
Iraqi leaders released another version of the new Iraqi flag Wednesday after a preliminary version received widespread criticism in Iraq for resembling the Israeli flag. The flag has two blue strips running along the bottom and a crescent above them on a white background. The strips on the new version is a much darker shade of blue
In business news, cable giant Comcast has abandoned its plans to buy the Walt Disney Company and ABC.. Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy said “”This is a victory for all Americans who are concerned about the dangers of media consolidation. It wasn’t just the negative response from investors that helped to undermine the proposed deal. There was a strong expression of opposition from citizen groups, unions, cable subscribers and many others.”
The American Civil Liberties Union revealed Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit three weeks ago to challenge aspects of the Patriot Act but the group has been barred from releasing the text of the lawsuit because the government claims it would violate secrecy provisions of the Patriot Act. The ACLU’s associate legal director Ann Beeson said, “It is remarkable that a gag provision in the Patriot Act kept the public in the dark about the mere fact that a constitutional challenge had been filed in court. President Bush can talk about extending the life of the Patriot Act, but the ACLU is still gagged from discussing details of our challenge to it.” The ACLU is challenging a provision in the Patriot Act that gives the FBI power to request financial records and other documents from businesses without a warrant or judicial approval. The ACLU released a redacted version of the lawsuit Wednesday. The full lawsuit remains under seal.
The Supreme Court has upheld Pennsylvania’s new congressional map even though the redistricting might have been divided to benefit Republicans.
In New York, the city’s park department has rejected a permit requested by United for Peace and Justice to stage a large anti-war rally in Central Park during the Republican National Convention. The city claimed that the Central Park’s Great Lawn was not big enough for the 250,000 protesters. This marks the second time in just over a year the city has rejected a permit for an anti-war event organized by the United for Peace and Justice.