By a unanimous vote, the United Nations Security Council OK’d a new Iraq resolution that recognizes the new unelected interim government of Iraq while allowing the US to maintain its force of 138,000 troops in the country. The U.S. will maintain control over its forces but agreed to confer with the Iraqi governing body over sensitive offensive operations. While President Bush hailed the UN resolution as a “great victory for the Iraqi people”, some fear it could break the country apart. Kurdish political leaders are now threatening to pull out of the government because the UN resolution abandons a provision of the interim Iraqi constitution that gave the Kurds veto power over new laws.
The New York Times is reporting that the new appointed Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, helped the CIA carry out a series of bombings in Iraq during the 1990s including possibly one attack that targeted a movie theater filled with civilians. The CIA worked with Allawi’s exile organization the Iraqi National Accord to sabotage Saddam Hussein’s government. The Times based its report on interviews with former CIA officials who gave conflicting accounts of how effective and how lethal the attacks were. Allawi, who also has ties to British and Saudi intelligence, is not believed to have ever spoken publicly about the terror campaign. But one former member of the Iraqi National Accord came forward in 1996 and described himself as the group’s chief bombmaker and he admitted carrying out attacks.
Attorney General John Ashcroft rejected calls by Congress Tuesday to discuss or release secret government memos that reportedly determined the Bush administration could ignore domestic and international laws and allow U.S. interrogators to torture detainees. According to news reports, one 50-page Justice Department memo said inflicting physical or psychological pain might be justified if it was done in order “to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network.” The administration’s support for the use of torture has been widely criticized by human rights groups. Today several of the country’s major newspapers weigh in with editorials. The Washington Post writes “Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of 'national security.'
One of the country’s leading manufacturers of electronic voting machines, Diebold, has announced that it is banning its senior executives from making donations to political candidates. The company has come under intense criticism for its ties to the Republican party. Its chairman and CEO Walden O’Dell wrote a letter last year to potential supporters of President Bush in which he said he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” O’Dell also held a $1,000 plate Republican fund-raiser at his home in Columbus. Critics of electronic voting machines fear the presidential election could be fixed if electronic voting machines are used especially if they are being operated by such partisan companies.
In other voting news, the chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is expected to propose a series of recommendations today to his fellow commissioners to help increase voter confidence in electronic voting machines before the presidential election. According to the New York Times, the commissioner, DeForest Soaries will call on makers of voting machines to allow elections officials to examine their source code; ask elections officials to publicly outline what measures are being taken to ensure security of their systems; and have voting software companies submit their software for review to the National Software Reference Library.
An American working for the Vinnell Corporation was shot and killed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Tuesday. Last year seven workers for Vinnell died in an attack on a housing compound that killed a total of 35 people. Since 1975 Vinnell has been paid to help train and help arm the Saudi National Guard whose main job is to protect the Saudi monarchy from domestic attacks. Vinnell is also working in Iraq helping to train the new Iraqi army. Since May 1, 28 foreigners have been killed in Saudi Arabia. CNN is reporting a new poll in Saudi Arabai has found that almost half of all Saudis have a favorable view of Osama bin Laden.
At the G8 meetings in Georgia, a group of Arab leaders has rejected an invitation from President Bush to meet today for lunch with G8 leaders. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco all turned down the invitation. Morocco and Egypt claimed there were scheduling issues. The U.S. is trying to push the G8 to pass a measure calling for more democratic reforms in the Middle East.
In Israel, two members of Prime Minister Gen. Ariel Sharon’s government have resigned and said they would oppose his government, bringing Sharon’s government closer to collapse.
In Venezuela, the elections council announced on Tuesday a presidential recall referendum will be held on Aug. 15 to determine if President Hugo Chavez stays in power. If he is defeated in the recall, presidential elections will be held within 30 days.
The Nation is reporting the chief Latin American expert at the Council on Foreign Relations has quit under pressure from associates of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The scholar, Kenneth Maxwell, had been the target of Kissinger after he reviewed a new book titled The Pinochet File that examines the U.S. role in the Chilean coup that overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende and put in place the military dictator Augusto Pinochet. In his review of the book, Maxwell concluded there was “deep involvement of the U.S. intelligence services in Chile prior to and after the coup.” The book written by Peter Kornbluh is based on 25,000 declassified U.S. documents. Maxwell’s review, which appeared in the journal Foreign Affairs, outraged associates of Kissinger, most notably William Rogers, the former assistant secretary of state for Latin American Affairs under Kissinger and a vice president of his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates. After both Maxwell and Rogers fired responses back in forth in the pages of Foreign Affairs, the debate was stopped. Maxwell accused Kissinger and Rogers of pressuring the Council and the journal from ending the debate. The author of the Pinochet book, Peter Kornbluh, also became involved when Foreign Affairs refused to allow him to publish a letter to the editor.
In San Francisco, 150 protesters were arrested Tuesday outside a major biotech conference in San Francisco. Over 1,000 people marched in the city against the use of genetically modified food, cloning and biotech drugs.