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A new top secret CIA study has concluded that the ongoing troubles in Iraq may * lead to a civil war by the end of next year*. The warning comes in a classified National Intelligence Estimate that was approved by acting CIA director John McLaughlin in July before the recent upsurge in violence. The New York Times revealed the existence of the report today. One government official who saw the classified report said "There’s a significant amount of pessimism." The government is predicting the worst case scenario foresees developments that could lead to civil war, the most favorable scenario predicts a tenuous stability in political, economic and security terms. The Times notes that the tone of the report stands in direct contrast to recent statements by the Bush administration.
Yesterday Senate Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee criticized the president’s request to divert more than $3 billion from reconstruction projects to security measures. Of the $18.4 billion Congress approved last year for Iraqi reconstruction, only $1.1 billion has been spent because of violence and other problems. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska called that record * "beyond pitiful and embarrassing; it is now in the zone of dangerous."* Hagel said the shift in funds shows that the U.S. is "in deep trouble."
Meanwhile the Washington Post is reporting that Bush administration officials are hoping to make an upcoming visit to Washington by unelected Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi the * centerpiece of a vigorous election-year defense of its troubled Iraq policy*. Next week Allawi is expected to address a joint session of Congress and speak at the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.
A new report by the Government Accountability Office warns the US military may * run out of national guard and reserve troops* for the war on terrorism because of existing limits on involuntary mobilizations. Since the September 11 attacks more than 335,000 guard and reserves have been involuntarily mobilized for active duty. The report also notes that the army national guard has failed to meet recruiting goals in 14 of 20 months between October 2002 and May 2004.
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has accused the U.S. of * illegally invading Iraq* and said the attack contravened the charter of the United Nations. Annan’s comments came during an interview on the * BBC*. Annan said, "I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time–without UN approval and much broader support from the international community. From our point of view and the [UN] charter point of view it was illegal."
In news from Iraq, two U.S. citizens and a British citizen were * kidnapped today* when 10 gunmen stormed a house where they were in central Baghdad. The men are believed to be private contractors.
And the controversy over last week’s 60 Minutes report on President Bush’s military service in the Texas Air National Guard continues. For the first time CBS News and Dan Rather admitted the * possibility that their report was based on forged documents. But Rather continued to stand by his reporting. The documents in question were allegedly from the personal files of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who served as Bush’s squadron leader in the Texas Air National Guard. Yesterday Rather interviewed Killian’s secretary * Marian Carr Knox. She told CBS that she believes the * documents are fake* but that they reflected the sentiments of Kilian. In other developments, the New York Times is reporting that an unnamed employee at CBS is saying the source of the controversial documents was * Lt. Col. Bill Burkett*. Burkett is the Texas Air National Guardsman who has previously said he witnessed Bush’s military records being purged in the late 1990s as the then governor was preparing to run for the White House.
The Financial Times is reporting that factions within the Bush administration are debating whether the US should consider carrying out * military strikes against Iran to stop its nuclear program*. The paper reports that analysts close to the administration say military options are under consideration, but have not reached a level of seriousness that indicate the US is preparing actual action.
An Afghan court yesterday * sentenced three Americans* to up to 10 years in prison after finding them guilty of charges that included running a private jail and torturing detainees during a self-appointed counter-terrorism mission. One the men, Jonathan Idema, is a former US soldier who claims he and his co-defendants came to Afghanistan with official backing from the US military and the Afghan government.
For the first time, the * State Department* has named Saudi Arabia as a country that severely violates religious freedom. Saudi Arabia joins seven other countries on the list including Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Eritrea and Vietnam. The State Department determined that * freedom of religion does not exist in Saudi Arabia* and that "non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and sometimes torture."
Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians yesterday in the deadliest day in the West Bank for Palestinians in more than two years. In Nablus, Israel killed five Palestinian militants and an 11 year-old girl. Later in Jenin, two Palestinian civilians, a police officer and one militant was killed in an attack on a car repair shop. Meanwhile Palestinians are marking the 22nd anniversary of the * Sabra and Shatila+* massacre this week. In 1982 up to 2,000 unarmed Palestinian refugees were slaughtered near Beirut by Lebanese Christian militia forces allied to Israeli forces. At the time Gen. Ariel Sharon was the Israel’s Defense Minister.
And in Knoxville Tennessee, the Federal Communications Commission has shut down community radio station * KFAR*. Yesterday morning three federal marshals raided the station’s studios and confiscated all of the station’s equipment. The three-year-old station was operating without an FCC license though it was in the process of applying for a license. One supporter of the station said, "The real criminals are the FCC officials who have given the public airwaves away to huge media conglomerates like Clear Channel." KFAR stands for Knoxville First Amendment Radio.
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