President Bush has nominated Republican congressman and former CIA officer Porter Goss of Florida to be the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency. For the past eight years he has been the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Goss’s appointment has been criticized from many in Washington.
Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner, who served in the Carter administration, called the nomination”the worst appointment that”s ever been made.” Senator John Rockefeller, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will hold hearings on the nomination, declared that it was a mistake to select “any politician, from either party.”
In Iraq, at least 30 people have been killed and over 200 injured over the past 24 hours in intense fighting between U.S. forces and backers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr. The Health Ministry in Baghdad said most of the fatalities were civilians. In Najaf, the U.S. is continuing to bomb the holy city including areas near the revered Imam Ali shrine and the city’s historic cemetery where Shiite Muslims from around the world are buried. The US is now saying that marines have been given permission by the Najaf governor to enter the shrine to launch an attack.
For the first time U.S. forces are also calling on residents of the city to evacuate their homes in a sign that even heavier attacks may be planned. Meanwhile Iraq’s interim deputy prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari called on the US to pull out of Najaf completely. In Baghdad, members of Sadr’s Mehdi Army have taken over portions of the capital city and set up checkpoints. The New York Times reports practically all of Sadr City appeared to be under the control of militiamen.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera is reporting that Basra’s interim leaders are considering breaking away from the rest of Iraq and forming an independent southern Iraqi government to include the heavily Shiite areas of Basra, Misan and Dhi Qar. The head of the Misan council said the move is in part due to the situation in Najaf. He said “This reaction comes in response to the crimes committed against Iraqis by an illegal and unelected government, and occupation forces who claimed they came to liberate Iraq, but it turned out that they have come to kill Iraqis.”
In other Iraq news, the unelected Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has ordered Ahmed Chalabi’s party to vacate its Baghdad headquarters within 24 hours. A U.S. soldier delivered the order yesterday to Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. On Sunday an Iraqi judge ordered the arrests of Chalabi and his nephew Salem. The INC is the first political party to have its headquarters shut down by the new unelected Iraqi government.
The Department of Homeland Security announced yesterday that it plans to give border patrol agents the authority to deport undocumented immigrants without giving them a chance to go before an immigration judge. The new rules do not affect Mexicans or Canadians. The sweeping new power will take effect later this month. Backers of the policy say it is needed to deter undocumented workers and to net people trying to avoid tighter security measures at airports.
Border Patrol agents are currently required to bring undocumented immigrants to detention centers in order to be processed through the courts. The new rule covers non-citizens caught within 100 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders who have spent under two weeks in the country. During fiscal year 2003, about 43,000 immigrants were deported from airports and seaports without going before a judge—the new rule could double that figure.
Another provision of the new rule will allow Mexicans to visit the U.S. for thirty days, increased from the current three-day pass. Canadians are already allowed to visit the United States for six months.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has issued a new reporting criticizing Israel’s decision to bar Palestinians from traveling on 41 roads in the West Bank. The report reads “By unlawfully discriminating against Palestinians based on their national origin, the Forbidden Roads Regime is reminiscent of the apartheid system that existed in South Africa.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations is warning Israel over repeatedly violating Lebanese airspace over the past 36 hours. According to the UN envoy in the area, there have been at least 10 violations since yesterday.
In Venezuela, the latest polls indicate that President Hugo Chávez will likely survive a recall vote this Sunday. One recent poll found 45 percent of the country was against recalling Chávez. 34 percent favored his recall. And 19 percent remained undecided.
Vermont has announced it will become the country’s first state to sue the Food and Drug Administration for denying it permission to import prescription drugs from Canada.
And this news on the upcoming Republican National Convention, Secretary of State Colin Powell has announced he will not be attending the convention later this month in New York. Powell told the UNITY 2004 conference last week that he was obliged as secretary not to take part in “parochial debate.”
And New York city has once again rejected a request by protest group United For Peace and Justice to hold a massive anti-war rally in Central Park before the opening of the Republican National Convention. The group submitted another permit request yesterday but the city rejected it within hours. Now protest organizer Leslie Cagan said the group may take their case to the federal courts. The group had agreed to hold its Aug. 29 rally on the West Side Highway but now the group says that site is not suitable.