Overnight the US pounded the holy city of Najaf in the heaviest bombardment in the past two weeks. But the standoff continues. Yesterday the unelected Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi issued a final warning to the Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr to leave the holy Imam Ali and disarm his militia. Backers of Sadr are sending mixed messages from the holy shrine where they are based. Some reports indicate that Sadr is refusing to stop fighting, others indicate he is prepared to hand over control of the shrine to other Shiite religious leaders. Yesterday backers of Sadr attacked the Najaf police stations with mortar rounds killing 7 and injuring 35. In Baghdad, mortar rounds were fired at the former Republican Palace which now houses most of the U.S. embassy staff. Fighting also erupted in Sadr City leaving at least 5 Iraqis dead. And the U.S. bombed the Sunni city of Falluja killing at least two people.
New questions have arisen over how the government maintains its secret no-fly lists that are designed to help airlines spot potential terrorists. Yesterday Senator Ted Kennedy revealed that his name recently appeared on the no-fly list and that earlier this year he was stopped and questioned at five different airports. And it appears every Kennedy in the country who had the first initial T may have been stopped. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the government had determined “T Kennedy” had been used as an alias by a terrorist suspect.
An article in Britain’s leading medical journal, Lancet, alleges that U.S. military physicians were complicit in the abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. According to the article, doctors routinely attributed detainee deaths on death certificates to natural causes when the deaths were the result of torture. The article also alleges that a psychiatrist helped “design, approve and monitor interrogations at Abu Ghraib.”
Bob Herbert of the New York Times is reporting that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement recently sent armed state troopers into the home of dozens of elderly African-American voters to question them about an investigation into election fraud. The Florida Voters League reported the investigation has sent chilling messages to African-American voters to stay away from the polls in November.
Senator John Kerry accused the Bush campaign of setting up a front group to attack his military record in Vietnam. Most of the attacks have come from a group of Vietnam veterans called the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth which formed after Kerry received the Democratic nomination. The Austin Statesman has revealed the group was organized by a Republican PR specialist from Houston named Merrie Spaeth. Spaeth formerly worked as a PR consultant to Kenneth Starr during his investigation of President Clinton. Her late husband, Tex Lezar, was Bush’s running mate for the governor’s seat in Texas in 1994. Kerry said yesterday of Bush “If he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”
And this news from the Olympics and Greece. Sports Illustrated is reporting that the Iraq national soccer team is calling on President Bush to stop running campaign ads using the team. In one ad, a narrator states “At this Olympics there will be two more free nations — and two fewer terrorist regimes.” The soccer team’s coach said “My problems are not with the American people. They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?”