Republicans turn spotlight on Bush leadership after Sept. 11 The Republican National Convention opened last night in New York at Madison Square Garden just three miles from Ground Zero. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Senator John McCain and others called for President Bush’s re-election and praised his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks and the war on terror. The theme of the evening was the “courage of a nation.”
Outside Madison Square Garden, protests are continuing today for a fifth day in a row. The A31 Coalition has called for a day of direct action against the Republican National Convention. Meanwhile The War Resisters League, Voices in the Wilderness and other activist groups are planning to stage a die-in in front of Madison Square Garden tonight. On Monday more than 15,000 marched in a protest organized by the Still We Rise coalition. Thousands also rallied in the Poor People’s March for Economic Human Rights. Police arrested about 20 protesters in protests yesterday bringing the total to around 600 over the past five days. The National Lawyers Guild yesterday accused the city of preventing jailed protesters from seeing lawyers and they charged the arrested protesters were being held in poor conditions.
Earlier in the day, the Republicans approved a new party platform with little debate. The New York Times reports that for the first time the platform puts the party firmly on the record against legalized abortion, gay marriage and other forms of legal recognition for same-sex couples. The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign called the platform one of the “most discriminatory platforms in modern history.” On economic issues, the platform calls for the privatization of social security and for making President Bush’s tax cuts permanent. Democrats have accused the Republicans of trying to mask the conservative nature of the party’s platform by showcasing speakers who appeal to moderate voters such as Arnold Schwarzenegger who is speaking tonight. Meanwhile 17 former Republican office holders, including ex-senators and governors, have joined together to call on the GOP to “come back to the mainstream.” The group has taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times calling for the party to take more moderate stances on the environment, foreign policy and judicial appointments.
While speakers at the convention repeatedly praised how President Bush has waged the so-called war on terror, the president has for the first time cited doubts if the war on terror is winnable. Matt Lauer of NBC asked him recently “Can we win?” Bush replied “I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.”
And the Washington Post reports that the FBI has interviewed senior Pentagon officials including Douglas Feith in connection to an investigation into a Pentagon analyst who is suspected of spying for Israel. The analyst, Larry Franklin, is suspected of sharing classified documents on U.S. policy towards Iran with the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee which then turned the documents over to Israel. Franklin worked in the Pentagon’s Near East and South Asia Bureau which was headed by Feith, who also oversaw the controversial Office of Special Plans. They were both part of the neo-conservative wing of the Pentagon that advocated for the invasion of Iraq and has pushed for a hardline stance toward Iran. The Post also reports that law enforcement agents are close to filing charges and that Franklin may soon be arrested.
In news from Iraq, Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr has ordered his militia to suspend attacks across Iraq. Sadr’s armed movement has led much of the Shiite resistance against the U.S. occupation. In addition, Sadr called for the U.S. to pull its troops out of all city centers in Iraq. Aides to Sadr said the cleric would soon announce his entrance into politics. In other news from Iraq, an Iraqi resistance group has claimed that it has executed 12 Nepalese hostages. Pictures of their throats being slit have appeared on the Internet.
In Afghanistan, U.S warplanes have reportedly bombed a village in eastern Afghanistan killing at least six people and destroying eight houses. The attack came after rockets were fired on a nearby security post. Meanwhile the death toll in Sunday’s bombing of the Dyncorp headquarters in Kabul has increased to 12. Dyncorp provides a private militia to protect Afghan President Hamid Karzai and trains the Afghan police force. It was the first major attack in Kabul in more than a year.