The Red Cross said yesterday that the U.S. may have committed war crimes at Guantanamo Bay if reports of detainees being tortured at the military base are true. This according to a report in the Guardian of London. The comment by the Red Cross comes a day after three former detainees from Britain revealed they were the victims of systemic abuse at the hands of their US captors both in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. The men said they were beaten, shackled, photographed naked and in one incident questioned at gunpoint while in US custody. In addition a leader in Britain’s Liberal Democrats’ party called on the Foreign Office to launch an investigation into the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
The U.S. Army yesterday awarded a $23 million no-bid contract to CACI International to continue providing private interrogators to gather intelligence in Iraq. This according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. CACI received the contract even though one of its interrogators was cited by the military for being involved in the prison abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. Last week the treasurer of California recommended that the state pension fund divest itself from any CACI stock if the company remained in the business of providing interrogators.
In other news from Iraq, a U.S. helicopter carrying a wounded soldier was shot down today near Najaf. The crew was recovered alive. In Mosul, at least 12 people died during fighters between Iraqi police and members of the Iraqi resistance. And four Jordanian workers taken hostage were released yesterday.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced yesterday that it will no longer publicly reveal safety lapses at nuclear power plants. The announcement came during the Commission’s first public meeting on power plant safety since the Sept. 11 attacks. The move rolls back procedures that were put in place after the Three Mile Island accident 25 years ago.
Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts warned that the move will “further deepen public skepticism of the commission’s performance and calls into question whether the commission is doing what it must do to keep nuclear reactors safe from terrorist attacks.”
Meanwhile the Progressive Magazine reveals in its August issue that the Bush administration has decided to ease fire safeguards at nuclear power plants. One former nuclear industry consultant told the magazine, “A nuclear power plant can kill a million people. There are more fire barriers in a nursing home than in a nuclear power plant.”
The Washington Post is reporting that federal investigators have concluded that Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama divulged classified intercepted messages to Fox News and CNN while he served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. But the Justice Department has decided not to undertake a criminal prosecution against the Republican Senator.
Shelby revealed that the National Security Agency intercepted messages in Arabic on the eve of Sept. 11 that said “The match is about to begin” and “Tomorrow is zero hour.” He also revealed that the messages were not translated until after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Federal Communications Commission agreed yesterday to support Justice Department and FBI requests to subject internet telephone services to the same laws allowing surveillance of conventional phones.
The Guardian of London is reporting that the United Nations is evacuating most of its foreign staff out of Gaza because of security concerns. The UN Relief and Works Agency was formed to care for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Gaza. A UN spokesperson said the main reason for the evacuation was the expanding Israeli military operations in northern Gaza. Yesterday Israeli forces shot dead four young Palestinians, including three in the Jabaliya refugee camp. One of the Palestinians killed was said to be about 10. The othes were both under 18. And in the West Bank, Israel has announced it will seek US approval to build thousands of more illegal housing units in settlements near Jerusalem. The Bush administration’s mideast envoy Elliot Abrams is expected to meet with Prime Minister Gen. Ariel Sharon today.
A superior court judge in Washington state ruled yesterday that same-sex marriage is legal because a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. If the state Supreme Court approves the decision, the ruling will go further than the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage because Washington has no residency requirements for marriage, so out of state couples would be able to travel there to wed.
After protests from the American Librarian Association, the Justice Department has rescinded a request that libraries destroy five public documents including the text of two federal statutes. Topics addressed in the documents includes information on how citizens can retrieve items confiscated during government investigations. Justice Department officials said Tuesday the documents had been mistakenly distributed but did not contain sensitive information requiring removal from the library system.
And independent candidate Ralph Nader was dealt another setback over the weekend when the California Peace and Freedom Party declined to nominate him for president. The nomination would have put Nader on the California ballot. Instead the party has nominated jailed Native American leader Leonard Peltier as its presidential candidate this year.
In music news, musical icon Bruce Springsteen announced yesterday he would play a series of concerts in swing states as part of a beat-Bush tour that will also include REM, the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam and several other bands. Proceeds from the benefit concerts will benefit the group America Coming Together.
Springsteen writes in today’s New York Times “Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out.” Springsteen goes on to write “Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.”