President Bush is nominating his longtime friend and attorney Harriet Miers to serve on the Supreme Court. This according to the Associated Press. The 60-year-old Miers is currently working as White House counsel and was formerly President Bush’s personal lawyer in Texas. Miers met Bush in the 1980s and she was counsel for his 1994 campaign for governor. He appointed her chair of the Texas Lottery Commission in 1995. If confirmed by the Senate, Miers will fill Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat and become the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court. As an attorney, she was the first woman to serve as president of the Texas State Bar and the Dallas Bar Association. Miers has never served as a judge. Without a judicial record, it may be difficult for Senators to know where Miers stands on key issues facing the court. Last year Legal Times reported that Miers ” has long been one of the most discreet, most private, and most protective members of George W. Bush’s inner circle.”
In Iraq, political tensions between the ruling Shiites and Kurds are intensifying. Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish president of Iraq, has called on Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari to resign and he accused Jaafari and the Shiites of monopolizing power and ignoring Kurdish demands. Middle East analyst Juan Cole warns this could split the country. Cole writes “If the Kurdish-Shiite alliance is over with, then I suspect so is Iraq… When the political will of a country’s elite fragments, the country falls apart. It happened in Lebanon. It is happening in Iraq.”
Meanwhile the U.S. is launching another major offensive in western Iraq near the Syrian border. About 1,000 U.S. troops backed by attack helicopters and tanks raided the town of Al-Qaim on Saturday. At least 12 people were killed. The U.S. claims the offensive is needed to root out fighters connected to Al Qaeda. Over the past month the U.S. has repeatedly attacked Sunni strongholds displacing thousands of Sunnis, just weeks ahead of the October 15 vote on the constitution.
In other news on Iraq, the news outlet Agence France Press reports it has obtained Iraqi government statistics that shows 700 Iraqis–mostly civilians — were killed in attacks in September. In August, 526 Iraqis were killed.
A U.S. military report has confirmed that Knight Ridder journalist Yasser Salihee was killed by an American sniper in June but claimed the shooting was justified. Salihee was shot as he was driving in western Baghdad. He was then left lying dead in his car, splattered with blood. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists U.S. troops have killed at least 13 journalists in Iraq since the war began.
The Army has suffered its worst year for recruiting since 1979. The Army had set an annual goal of 80,000 new recruits by September 30 but fell 7,000 recruits short. The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve also fell short of their annual goal. Meanwhile the Armed Forces is trying new ways to reach the nation’s young. The Army National Guard is now offering to give away three free music downloads from Itunes to individuals who sign up online to be contacted by recruiters.
In Washington–political scandals involving the Republican leadership remain the talk of the town. Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating whether Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist engaged in insider trading. Then Tom Delay was forced to step down from his role as House Majority Leader after he was indicted for criminal conspiracy involving funneling corporate donations to Texas politicians. Now a series of new questions are being raised about another scandal–the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Her cover was blown shortly after her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, publicly disputed the Bush administration’s claim that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium in the African nation of Niger for use in its nuclear weapons program.
On Sunday ABC News host George Stephanopoulos said his sources told him that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were involved in the discussions about Valerie Plame. “A source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions,” Stephanopoulos said. Little is known about President Bush’s role except that he spent more than an hour answering questions from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
Meanwhile the Washington Post reports Fitzgerald may be planning to bring criminal conspiracy charges against White House officials, possibly Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. On Friday, New York Times reporter Judith Miller testified that she discussed the story with Libby, who serves as Dick Cheney’s top advisor. Miller had been jailed for refusing to testify. She decided to talk after she received permission from Libby to discuss their conversations.
Over the weekend it was also revealed that Scooter Libby had personally written letters to Miller while she was in jail. One letter began “Dear Judy, Your reporting, and you are missed.” He closed the letter by writing “You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover-Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work—and life. Until then, you will remain in my thoughts and prayers.” Those are the words of Lewis Libby to Judy Miller.
The former Muslim chaplain at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay has revealed in a new book that military authorities knowingly created an atmosphere in which guards would feel free to abuse prisoners. James Yee said the prison’s commanding officer — Major General Geoffrey Miller — would regularly incite anger toward the prisoners. Miller would later oversee the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. For Yee, the book also discusses his imprisonment. In 2003 he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of espionage. The case proved groundless.
The GAO–the Government Accountability Office–has determined the Bush Administration violated laws when it secretly paid columnist Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. By doing so, the GAO said the government had illegally disseminated “covert propaganda.”
Up to 26 people have died in the Indonesian island of Bali after three separate suicide bombers targeted restaurants. Over 120 people were injured. Amateur video shot moments before the blast shows a man clutching a backpack walking through a crowded restaurant. Then there is a blast and the restaurant’s lights go black. The attacks are being blamed on individuals connected to the Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
In Connecticut, town offices have begun giving civil union licenses to same sex couples. Connecticut is the first state to grant same sex partners the same rights as married couples without a court forcing the action.
Military contractor Boeing and its partner Bell Helicopter have been forced to apologize after they published a magazine ad that depicted U.S. Special Forces troops rappelling from an Osprey aircraft onto the roof of a mosque. The ad reads “It descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes hell.” The ad also states: “Consider it a gift from above.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations had criticized the ad saying it deepens concerns that the so-called war on terror is a war on Islam.
And Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson has died at the age of 60. The New York Times writes that his series of plays on the African-American experience in the 20th century will “stand as a landmark in the history of black culture, of American literature and of Broadway theater.”