The New York Times is reporting today that the detainees held in isolation at Guantanamo Bay have produced little useful intelligence and that maybe no more than a dozen of the 600 detainees are sworn members of Al Qaeda. The Times concludes “government and military officials have repeatedly exaggerated both the danger the detainees posed and the intelligence they have provided. The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon whether the US government can legally detain the men there indefinitely without ever pressing charges.
While Guantanamo Bay is the most publicized U.S.-run detention center, the Washington-based group Human Rights First has issued a new report on how the U.S. is now running two dozen secret detention centers around the world. The report concluded “The U.S. government is holding prisoners in a secret system of off-shore prisons beyond the reach of adequate supervision and accountability of law.” Some of the detention centers are believed to be located in Pakistan along the Afghan border; on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and in Jordan.
On Friday, in Saudi Arabia a group connected to Al Qaida beheaded Paul Johnson an American contractor working for Lockheed Martin. The group that carried out the attack is now claiming sympathizers in the Saudi security forces helped kidnap Johnson by setting up a fake checkpoint to stop Johnson and abduct him. Saudi officials denied the report. Soon after Johnson was beheaded Saudi officials said they killed four men connected to Al Qaeda including alleged ringleader Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin. It is unclear how the Saudis were able to track down al-Muqrin so quickly after days of being unable to find him. Initial reports said Saudis had found Johnson’s body which lead them to Al-Muqrin but now the Saudis are saying they are still searching for Johnson’s body. Meanwhile in Iraq a South Korean man has been taken hostage by members of the Iraqi resistance who are threatening to kill him if Korean troops do not leave Iraq.
The Guardian of London is reporting British military police are investigating claims that British soldiers mutilated the bodies of seven members of the Iraqi resistance after a firefight last month. One of the Iraqis reportedly had his right eye gouged out of his eye socket. Doctors found the eyeball in the dead man’s pocket.
The National Lawyers Guild has called for President Bush to be prosecuted for war crimes for approving or for failing to stop the torture of detainees. The Guild also charged that the Bush administration has illegally tried to justify the use of torture by claiming the president has the right to disregard existing laws. In related news, more than 400 legal scholars signed a letter last week to Congress urging them to consider impeaching President Bush.
Meanwhile a U.S. military judge has ordered the Abu Ghraib prison not be torn down because it is a crime scene.
Hersh: Israeli Mossad Operating in Iraq, Iran & Syria
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has revealed in the pages of the New Yorker that hundreds of Israeli agents, including members of Mossad, are now operating in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. In addition Mossad is now conducting covert operations in Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. One former Israeli intelligence officer told Hersh “It’s Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria.” In other news from northern Iraq, the New York Times is reporting mass numbers of Kurds are ignoring US orders and reclaiming land in the area that had been seized by Iraqi Arabs during Saddam Hussein’s reign.
The appointed prime minister of Iraq Iyad Allawi announced Sunday the new unelected government may soon impose martial law and ban all public demonstrations. Other Iraqi officials said the government may set up more checkpoints, issue curfews and change the existing law to make it easier for police to search homes.
In addition, Allawi defended the U.S. military attack in Fallujah that killed 22 people. The U.S. said it was attempting to kill Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian man who has been blamed for leading the Iraqi resistance. The U.S. claimed it hit a safehouse and that close associates of Zarqawi died but a member of the US-backed Fallujah Brigade told USA Today that the house contained ordinary families with women, children and elders.
A new study by the Defense Manpower Data Center has found the military discharged 770 people last year because they were gay under the Pentagon’s ’don’t ask, don’t tell policy’. The majority of the discharged were enlisted personnel. This comes at a time that the military is issuing stop orders to prevent thousands of soldiers from retiring or returning home from Iraq. Hundreds of the discharged were specialists including 88 linguists, seven of whom spoke Arabic 39 specialists who worked on nuclear, chemical and biological warfare were dismissed as were 90 nuclear power engineers.
The Observer of London is reporting Vice President Dick Cheney could be indicted in a $180 million bribery investigation in Nigeria involving Halliburtion, the company that he headed before becoming the Vice President.
On Friday Roman Catholic bishops in the United States agreed on a statement that concludes any Catholic politician who supports abortion rights is “cooperating in evil.” Some Bishops are urging that churches deny giving communion to Catholic politicians — such as Senator John Kerry — who support a women’s right to choose.
In campaign news, John Kerry has called for the minimum wage to be increased from $5.15 an hour to $7 an hour by 2007.
And sources close to the grand jury probing the collapse of Enron report the company’s founder Kenneth Lay could be indicted on charges by the end of the month. Lay is a close friend of President Bush and was one of his top campaign backers during the 2000 election.
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