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The former Iraqi human rights minister is accusing the head of the US occupation Paul Bremer of ignoring his warnings last November that Iraqi prisoners were being abused in US-run jails including Abu Gharib. Abdel Basset Turki, who recently resigned his post in protest of the US actions in Fallujah, said “In November I talked to Mr Bremer about human rights violations in general and in jails in particular. He listened but there was no answer. At the first meeting, I asked to be allowed to visit the security prisoners, but I failed. I told him the news. He didn’t take care about the information I gave him.” The former minister’s charges came as criticism of the US intensifies over the prison abuse scandal. On Monday the top U.S. commander in Iraq issued administrative rebukes to six commissioned and noncommissioned officers. But none of the officers are facing criminal charges. One unnamed U.S. officer in Baghdad said QUOTE “The officers at Abu Ghraib aren’t facing criminal charges. They did not know or participate in any crimes. Their responsibility is to set the standards in the organization. They should have known, but they did not.”
It is unclear how the government will reprimand the private contractors who played a role in the prison abuse. The Boston Globe reports a legal could allow four American civilian contractors allegedly involved in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners to escape punishment. A Pentagon report found evidence that civilian interrogators employed by the Virginia-based firm CACI and civilian interpreters with the San Diego-based Titan Corp were directly involved in the abuses at the prison. The private contractors can not be tried under military law and it is unclear if criminal charges will be filed against them. A military spokesperson told the Globe “The military has no jurisdiction over the civilian contractors. The military can make recommendations, but it is going to be up to the employer to decide what measures to take.” Meanwhile some Iraqis are now publicly saying that they were treated better in Saddam Hussein’s prison system than under the US.
In Iraq, Monday night four U.S. troops died apparently when their Humvee rolled over near Khalis northeast of Baghdad. More than 150 US troops have died since April 1. Ten times as many Iraqs died as Americans during the month of April. This according to the Associated Press which put the month’s death toll at 1,360 Iraqis and 136 Americans.
The chief editor of a U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper has resigned along with the paper’s entire staff to protest American interference in the publication. The newspaper, Al Sabah, was set up by the U.S. as part of the Pentagon-funded Iraqi Media Network which is being overseen by the private company Harris Corporation. The paper’s editor, Ismail Zayer, said of the U.S. and Harris, “We had a project to create a free media in Iraq. They are trying to control us. We are being suffocated.”
The former head of the National Security Agency, General William Odom, has become the most prominent retired military official to call for the US to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible. He told the Wall Street Journal, “We have failed.” He went on to call for U.S. forces to be pulled out “from that shattered country as rapidly as possible. The issue is how high a price we’re going to pay-less by getting out sooner, or more by getting out later.” Meanwhile the magazine American Conservative has also called for the US to hand over sovereignty and leave Iraq. The lead article in this month’s edition begins “The administration’s Iraq policy is in shambles. Iraq has become a geopolitical humpty-dumpty that America cannot put back together, and the time has come for the United States to withdraw.” The cover of the magazine read “The No-Win War.” Meanwhile in Vietnam, one of the masterminds of the Vietnam War is warning the US will suffer a similar defeat in Iraq. General Vo Nguyen Giap said “Any country that wants to impose its will on another nation will certainly fail and all nations fighting for their own independence will be victorious.”
The Tehran Times is reporting that Syria recently thwarted an attempt by the Israeli spy agency Mossad to assassinate the Damascas-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshal. According to the paper, five members of Mossad who were disguised as Muslims were detained by Syrian officials after they tried to meet with Meshal. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, another Mossad assassination plot of Meshal was foiled in 1997 after two agents were caught in Jordan with forged Canadian passports.
American Civil Liberties Union is suing officials around Sea Island Georgia where city and county officials have enacted strict restrictions on public protest in the lead up to next month’s G8 economic summit there. in March the city of Brunswick and Glynn County passed a law that forces any gathering of six or more people to get a permit if they are meeting on public property for any purpose aimed at attracting attention. Protest groups will also be required to put up deposits to cover the cost of clean-up and security if they plan to hold public demonstrations. And new laws bar anyone from carrying signs larger than two feet by three feet or any signs on sticks.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), has found that 2003 saw a record number of bias attacks on Muslims in the United States. The organization said it received just over 1,000 claims of physical and verbal abuse–a 70 percent increase over the previous year.
The Congressional Research Service has determined the Bush administration likely violated federal law by ordering the chief Medicare actuary to withhold the true cost of the new Medicare bill to members of Congress before they voted on the act.