The London Independent is reporting Iraqis are already highly skeptical of the new interim government that was selected by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council with many fearing that it is simply a front for a new version of U.S. occupation. One Iraqi told the paper “In one sense the Americans are transferring power but only to their own agents. The new government are all pawns of the CIA.” At least one top Iraqi offiical, Iyad Allawi, the appointed prime minister, is a former CIA agent. The New York Times reported earlier this week that Allawi’s group the Iraqi National Accord carried out bombings on Iraqi civilians during the 1990s for the CIA.
At the G8 conference in George, President Bush held a rare press conference. He said NATO is not likely too contribute troops to Iraq and he refused to rule out that torture was used during interrogations. Asked repeatedly about what message was sent to interrogators about the using torture, Bush said “The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you.” Earlier this week internal Bush administration memos were leaked to the press that indicated the administration had concluded the president had the power to ignore U.S. and international law regarding torture on the grounds of national security. When asked on Thursday, Bush said he couldn’t recall if he had seen the memo.
The Washington Post is reporting today that U.S. intelligence personnel ordered military dog handlers at Abu Ghraib to use unmuzzled dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees during interrogations.
In Iraq the latest ceasefire between U.S. troops and Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr appears to be breaking apart. Sadr’s militia have seized a police station in Najaf and fighting there killed up to seven people. Earlier this week, the Guardian of London reported Sadr has been essentially banned from running for elective office by the head of the US occupation Paul Bremer. Bremer signed an order stating that, with immediate effect, members of illegal militias will be barred from holding political office for three years after leaving their illegal organization”. Sadr’s Mahdi Army is still considered an outlaw militia by the U.S. because it is not one of the nine militias who agreed to dissolve earlier this week in return that its members be offered pensions, retraining, or integration into the new security forces.
The New York Times is reporting that Iraq’s electrical grid is in shambles after being attacked by saboteurs. Power has been cut to more than 100 power lines that form the backbone of Iraq’s electrical system. Nearly 1,200 electrical towers have been toppled. Informal surveys have shown that residents in Baghdad have electricity for between 6 and 12 hours a day. A day when the power is off for 2/3 of the day is typical.
A new report from the Congressional General Accounting Office is estimating that 100,000 troops — mostly American — may have been exposed to chemical warfare agents during the 1990 Gulf War when troops destroyed stockpiles of chemical agents in southern Iraq.
An 18-year military veteran has been sentenced to 14 months in confinement after he refused to fight in Iraq. Sgt. First Class Abdullah Webster had applied for conscientious objector status but was rejected.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a group of opposition soldiers took over the national TV station and claimed they had seized power. Shortly after the country’s president Joseph Kabila appeared on TV saying a coup had been thwarted.
In New York, the mayor of the town of New Paltz has been cleared of criminal charges for marrying same sex couples. The mayor Jason West could have faced up to a year in jail.
In Boston, the District Attorney’s office has dropped charges against a 21-year-old protester who stood outside a military recruiting office dressed like a prisoner at Abu Ghraib. He wore a black hood over his head. He stood on a milk crate with his arms extended out. stereo wires dangled from his fingers. After an hour of carrying out the protest, Joseph Previtera was arrested and charged with three crimes including the felony of making a bomb threat. After prosecutors determined no such threat was made and that Previtera simply stood in silence, the charges were dropped. To hear our interview with Previtera and the District Attorneys’ office visit democracynow.org.
In Washington, the federal government has closed down for the state funeral of President Reagan. President Bush and the other four living former president will be in attendance as will many world leaders including former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan will be buried later today near his presidential library in California.
And the 12-time Grammy Award winning singer Ray Charles has died at the age of 73.