Israel’s High Court has ruled Israel must reroute part of its massive wall through the West Bank because portions would cut off tens of thousands of Palestinians from their jobs, schools and farms. The court ruled that the wall “injures the local inhabitants in a severe and acute way while violating their rights under humanitarian and international law.” The ruling affects a 19-mile section of the wall near Jerusalem but opens up challenges to other portions of the structure, which will eventually stretch for 400 miles through the occupied territory. Israel says the wall is a necessary security measure but Palestinians view it as an apartheid wall. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei praised the ruling but said the whole wall should be torn down. He said, “It’s a racist separation wall and therefore it should fall. There is no other alternative.” The International Court of Justice is scheduled to also rule on the legality of the wall, which is largely built on Palestinian land, on July 9.
Saddam Hussein remains in a U.S.-run jail today but the new Iraqi government has taken legal custody of the former president. He is expected to be arraigned today in an Iraqi court along side 11 other top officials. Some Republicans in Congress are urging the US to back a swift trial of Hussein before the November election. Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania Republican said putting a spotlight on Saddam’s record of execution and torture could help shore up public support for the invasion damaged by a US prison abuse scandal.
The New York Times has found the U.S. has been far behind its scheduled plans for rebuilding Iraq. Of the 2,300 promised construction projects, only 140 are under way.
News reports indicate that the Marine corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun who is being held hostage in Iraq may have been attempting to desert the military when he was abducted. Hassoun may have been trying to flee to Lebanon where he was born. About two months ago, Hassoun told a cousin that several American deserters had escaped by bribing Iraqis to help get them out of the country.
Meanwhile new Congressional report has found that the desertion rate in some units of the newly formed Iraqi security forcers has run as high as 80 percent. The report by the General Accounting Office calls into question how prepared Iraq is to handle security following the so-called handover of power. The report read “Iraqi security forces proved unready to take over security responsibility from the multinational force, as demonstrated by their collapse during April 2004.
The father of the American contractor who was beheaded last month in Iraq, blasted the Bush administration yesterday in London. Michael Berg, whose son Nicholas was killed, said “People like George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld don’t see the pain that people have to bear — they don’t know what it feels like to have your guts ripped out. What I’m trying to do is show to the American people and the British people … that war has a wretchedly horrible face.”
The New York Times today chronicles the story of a Nepalese man who spent three months in solitary confinement before being deported largely because he accidentally videotaped a building in Queens that contained an FBI office. He was arrested and then detained because he had overstayed his tourist visa. Soon he was in solitary confinement. Three months later he was deported. Even after FBI investigators confirmed that the man was harmless, post 9/11 rules by the Justice Department made it near impossible for the FBI to clear the man of wrongdoing. One FBI investigator even reached out to the Legal Aid Society of New York for help in dealing with the case. But it was to no avail. In order to free the man, the FBI would have been forced to secure signatures from high-level anti-terrorism officials in Washington. When that didn’t happen he was deported.
Meanwhile a Pakistani immigrant detained almost three years ago is now scheduled to be deported. He was first picked up in October 2001 for taking photographs of an upstate New York reservoir in the Catskills Mountains. Ansar Mahmood lost his final appeal yesterday.
The Supreme Court upheld the right of foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for human rights abuses and violations of international law under the 1789 Alien Tort Statute but the justices attempted to narrow the interpretation of the two-century-old law. The ruling marks a defeat for the Bush administration and business community.
Also yesterday the Supreme Court blocked a law requiring internet filters on public computers in order to prevent children from seeing online porn. The Court ruled that such measures can stifle free access to information.
24 UN workers died yesterday after their plane crashed in Sierra Leone. Before the crash, 137 UN peacekeeping troops had already been killed in the country.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Bush administration is now considering moving hundreds of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to prisons within the United States. This comes a day after the Supreme Court granted the detainees access to U.S. courts.