On the campaign trail, Senator John Kerry yesterday accused President Bush of continuing to lie to the public and members of the military about how bad the situation has become in Iraq. Kerry’s comments came hours after the New York Times revealed that a new * National Intelligence Estimate* on Iraq admitted the crisis in Iraq might turn into a civil war. The highly classified report represents the collective judgment of the various branches of the US intelligence community. It is the first known overall assessment of Iraq in two years. Kerry made his comments at the National Guard convention in Las Vegas. He accused Bush of * “living in a fantasy world of spin.”* Kerry went on to say “He did not tell you that with each passing day, we’re seeing more chaos, more violence, more indiscriminate killings. He failed to tell you the truth. You deserve better.”
The former head of the National Security Agency, William Odom, is warning that the Iraq situation is as grim as any war he’s ever seen. He told the Guardian of London * “This is far graver than Vietnam.* There wasn’t as much at stake strategically… now we’re in a region far more volatile and we’re in much worse shape with our allies.”
The Bush administration yesterday rejected the bleak assessment of the intelligence community and critics. One official told reporters, “The Iraqi people continue to defy the predictions of talking heads, pundits, hand-wringers and nay-sayers.”
But USA Today is reporting that the Iraqi resistance now appears * more powerful than ever*. As many as three dozen Iraqi cities and towns are now controlled by leaders hostile to the U.S-backed government in Baghdad. U.S. and coalition forces are now facing an average of 50 attacks a day.
In Baghdad today, a major car bombing at a police checkpoint in central Baghdad has * killed up to 13 people*.
Meanwhile in Fallujah US air attacks have * killed at least 44 people*.
In other Iraq news, the new US weapons inspector in Iraq has concluded that Saddam Hussein * did not have any stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction*.
In other Iraq news, reports are emerging out of the northern city of Mosul that US troops are torturing Iraqi detainees there. British attorney Phil Shiner said he has statements from two Iraqis who said they were * hooded, stripped naked, beaten unconscious and doused with cold water*. One was threatened with sexual assault. The men were held at a jail nicknamed “the disco” because troops force detainees to listen to western music at near deafening levels. According to Reuters this marks the first reports of torture in Mosul. One of the victims of the abuse has been described as an Iraqi attorney who helped found the Islamic Organization for Human Rights. He was arrested after he had been investigating reports of abuse in Mosul. The British attorney Shiner said, “The only reason he was detained was that he was working on documenting these cases of torture, at this prison and the Americans then went and detained him.”
The death toll from Hurricane Ivan has now topped 80 after the storm killed at least 22 people in the Southeast. Ivan hit the US coastline yesterday with winds up to 135 miles per hour. At least a dozen tornados spun off. Homes were ripped apart. Streets were flooded. Beaches were heavily damaged. President Bush declared Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to be disaster areas. Meanwhile another storm is already hitting the Caribbean. Tropical storm Jeanne has killed four people in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Grenada is still suffering most from Hurricane Ivan. Up to 90 percent of the buildings on the island have been destroyed. A Red Cross official told the BBC that on this island of 100,000 people, * 60,000 of them have lost everything*.
In Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed president Hamid Karzai survived an assassination attempt yesterday after a * rocket was fired at his helicopter* near the town of Gardez. Karzai was attempting to land in the provincial capital to campaign for the presidential elections. Karzai was traveling in a U.S. military helicopter. After the attack he canceled his trip to Gardez and he returned to Kabul. Karzai has yet to make any campaign stops outside of the capital city in part because of security. Meanwhile eight out of Karzai’s 17 rivals yesterday called for the election to be put off by one month because there was not enough time to campaign because of poor roads, communications and security in much of the country. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
A Republican Congressman from California has introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow foreign-born citizens to run for president. The move by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is widely seen as an effort to allow the Austrian-born * Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for president. The proposal would need the support of two-thirds of both the House and the Senate and the backing of 38 state legislatures. A recent * Newsweek poll found Republicans viewed the star of the Terminator film series as one the most attractive GOP candidates for the 2008 race.
A top State Department analyst on Asian affairs has been arrested for passing on secret documents to Taiwanese intelligence agents and for making an unauthorized trip to Taiwan. The Washington Post reports the analyst, Donald Keyser, has worked for the State Department for more than three decades and was extremely well regarded by his peers.
A federal judge has ordered a New York Times reporter to testify about private conversations she had with sources dealing with the case of the outting of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The reporter, Judith Miller, is the fifth reporter who has been directed to talk with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Plame’s identity was revealed in an article by columnist Robert Novak. Novak and his attorney have refused to comment on whether he has been subpoenaed.
A mother of a soldier killed in Iraq was arrested yesterday at a campaign stop by Laura Bush in New Jersey after she interrupted the First Lady’s speech. The woman, Sue Niederer, was wearing a t-shirt that read “President Bush, You Killed My Son.” The shirt bore a picture of her son Army Lt. Seth Dvorin who was killed in February. He was 24 years old.
And finally this news from the Rocky Mountain News. Hundreds of soldiers in a Colorado combat unit are reporting that they have been issued an ultimatum–re-enlist for three more years or be transferred to another unit expected to deploy to Iraq. The military has denied it threatened the soldiers but admit they are conducting a re-enlistment campaign to keep soldiers in the military.
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