Three British men who served time in Guantanamo Bay are charging they were the victims of systematic abuse, were interrogated at gunpoint and photographed naked in prison. One of their attorneys said "The account they have given from start to finish of their time in detention is an account of systematic brutality, systematic, perverse attempts to obtain confessions, interrogation ... in ways banned by the international community." The U.S. military has denied any abuse has occurred at Guantanamo. The men are releasing a 115-page report on their experience today.
Meanwhile in other prison abuse news, the attorney for Private Lynndie England said yesterday she was acting under orders from superiors when she abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. England appeared in photographs pointing at prisoners genitals and holding a naked Iraqi detainee on a leash. Her attorney Richard Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times that the government was holding a few rank-and-file soldiers accountable for a "systemic problem" in Iraq. He said it was "far from the truth" that interrogators and senior officers were not aware of what was happening at Abu Ghraib. The 21-year-old England faces 19 charges of mistreatment and neglect of duty. If convicted, she could receive a maximum punishment of 38 years in prison. Also during the hearing at Fort Bragg military officials revealed that the Iraqi prisoners abused by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison held no intelligence value.
Yesterday Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge denied politics played any role in the recent raising of terror threat level. Ridge said "We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security." Questions were raised about the timing of the alert after it was revealed that most of the Al Qaeda intelligence was based on surveillance carried out before the Sept. 11 attacks. Yesterday unnamed officials told the New York Times the decision was made in part on new intelligence that pointed to a possible attack by Al Qaeda in August or September.
Agence France Press is reporting the U.S. has spent just under 550 million dollars on Iraqi reconstruction since an $18.4-billion package was approved last year. The report is based on documents from the governmental agency Project and Contracting Office. The documents show that most of the money has not been spent on reconstruction but law enforcement and security.
A delegation of Iraqi civic and community leaders who are on a State Department sponsored trip of the United States were barred from entering Memphis City Hall because the city council chairman claimed they were a security risk. The city council chair warned he would evacuate the building and bring in the bomb squards if the Iraqi delegation stepped foot in city hall. The Iraqis were in Memphis to learn about the civil rights struggle in the south.
Voters in Missouri approved an amendment of the state constitution yesterday banning same-sex marriage. Missouri is the first state to vote on the issue since the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year. Nine other states will vote on same-sex marriage bans this fall. Three states have such initiatives pending. And four other states—Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada— already passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage before the Massachusetts ruling.
In campaign news, the Democratic nominee for president John Kerry is expected to release a list of 200 corporate executives who have endorsed his campaign. The list includes many CEOs who backed President Bush four years ago including former Chrysler chief Lee Iacocca.
The right-wing book publisher Regnery is preparing to release a new book titled "Unfit for Command" that attempts to discredit John Kerry’s entire military service. The book claims that Kerry received two of his three Purple Hearts based on injuries from self-inflicted wounds, not enemy fire. The book also claims he fabricated war reports and once burned down an abandoned Vietnamese village. The book is co-written by John O’Neill, a veteran who served with Kerry in Vietnam and have been very critical of his candidacy.
Halliburton agreed yesterday to pay a $7.5 million penalty to settle an investigation into charges that the company mislead investors by failing to disclose a change in how it accounted for cost overruns on large construction projects. The Securities and Exchange Commission said the problem occurred in 1998 when Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton.
Tens of thousands of people marched today in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, protesting any foreign intervention in the Darfur region. Some participants said they would be willing to fight and die if foreign troops came to Darfur. A United Nations Security Council resolution last Friday gave the government a month to reign in the government-backed militias. The UN has called the refugee crisis in western Sudan the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today.
The American Library Association is reporting that the Justice Department wants libraries to remove and destroy five public documents published by the government because the Bush administration has deemed the documents to be no longer be "appropriate for external use." Two of the documents are texts of federal statutes. The topics addressed in the documents include information on how citizens can retrieve items that may have been confiscated by the government during an investigation.
And 40 years ago today the bodies of civil rights organizers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were found buried in a dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. The three young men were in Mississiippi as part of the 1964 Freedom Summer project, which focused on desegregation and voter registration campaigns through out Mississippi. The three were on their way to investigate a church burning when they went missing on June 21, 1964. Members of the Ku Klux Klan were suspected of the murder, but no one was ever prosecuted in the case. Last month, James Chaney’s brother called on the Justice Department to reopen the murder investigation.
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