Two senior Army generals revealed to Congress yesterday that the CIA secretly hid * as many as 100 prisoners* at Abu Ghraib and other prisons from Red Cross inspectors. The New York Times reports the number of prisoners kept off the official roster is far higher than * previous estimates*. The exact number of so-called ghost detainees is still unknown because no records were kept by the CIA. One general put the total number of secretly held detainees at about two dozen but another said it as high as 100. The Times reports that military officials have said the C.I.A.’s practice of using Army-run prisons in Iraq to hide prisoners held for questioning violated military regulations and international law Both Democratic and Republican Senators criticized the military and CIA for not being more forthcoming. Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island asked “Why would all these people not follow Army regulations, not report violations to the Geneva Convention,[and then] wait months to inform commanders of vital information?”
For the first time, Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell said yesterday that * genocide has been committed in the Sudan* where mass rapes, killings and other abuses have forced over a million Sudanese to flee their homes. Powell said the Sudanese government and the government-sponsored Arab militias * bear the responsibility* for the attacks on the black African population. Powell also issued a * report* based on over 1,000 interviews with refugees. More than 60 percent of them had witnessed the killing of a family member. This comes as the United Nations Security Council is debating a resolution to impose new sanctions against the Sudanese government and to form a UN commission to determine if the government and the militia are responsible for genocide. According to the Washington Post, * a finding of genocide does not impose obligations on the United States*, but as a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention, the United States is committed to preventing and punishing genocide.
Hurricane Ivan Death Toll Up To 23
The death toll from Hurricane Ivan has risen to 23 people including at least 13 in Grenada where the government estimates 90 percent of the island’s homes have been damaged. The hurricane — the worst in the Caribbean in a decade — is expected to hit Jamaica later today and then Cuba. In Florida, evacuation of the Keys have already begun.
The Washington Post is reporting that some experts are questioning whether the documents unearthed by * 60 Minutes* regarding President Bush’s military history might be * forgeries*. Questions were raised if the font used in the documents and the formatting could have been done by a Vietnam War-era typewriter. CBS stands by the documents and says they were vetted by independent experts and verified by individuals who saw them at the time they were written. The White House has not officially raised questions about the authenticity of the documents. On Wednesday night the press office emailed reporters copies of the documents that were supplied by CBS.
In Gaza five Palestinians including a 10-year-old boy were killed yesterday as Israeli forces mounted a * new offensive in Northern Gaza*. Three other Palestinians were killed elsewhere in the Occupied Territories. Earlier today an Israeli helicopter gunship bombed the Jabliya refugee camp wounding three Palestinians. Meanwhile Israel has announced that Gaza and the West Bank will be sealed off until at least the end of the Yom Kippur holiday in late September.
In Iraq U.S. backed forces have * killed 45 Iraqis and injured 80 more* in heavy fighting in the northern Iraqi city of Tall Afar. Following the fight, US troops helped seal off the city. Using loudspeakers US troops warned city residents that no one will be allowed to enter the city for at least five days. The US claims the city has been infiltrated by fighters from Syria.
Osama Bin Laden’s deputy and spiritual advisor has issued a warning that * the defeat of US-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan* is only a matter of time. In a video aired released to al-Jazeera, Ayman al-Zawahri said “If they continue they will bleed to death, and if they withdraw they lose everything,” he said.
On Capitol Hill, the House voted 223 to 193 to * restore overtime pay to millions of US workers* after new Bush administration policies took it away. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said “President Bush’s overtime regulations will affect six million workers and are the biggest pay cut ever for middle-class families.”
Republican leaders in both the Senate and House are refusing to allow a vote on renewing a 10-year-old ban on military assault weapons. If Congress does not renew the ban before Monday, it will again become legal for people to own AK-47s and Uzis.
In other news from Washington, the nation’s most famous whistleblower, * Daniel Ellsberg* joined with other ex-governmental officials and called on current employees to disclose documents that the Bush administration is unnecessarily keeping secret.
In campaign news, the Bush campaign’s chief spokesperson, Terry Holt, has left the campaign to become a senior adviser to the Republican National Committee. The unexpected move comes a week after Roll Call reported that Holt told a gathering of young Republicans at the party’s convention that reporters were * “the scum of the earth”*.