President Bush is preparing to nominate federal appeals judge Samuel Alito Jr. today to the Supreme Court. Alito’s nomination comes just four days after Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination. The 55-year-old Alito is widely seen as a judicial conservative who has been nicknamed “Scalito” for his philosophical similarities to Justice Antonin Scalia. The Christian Right has been lobbying Bush to pick a candidate who will oppose abortion rights and overturn Roe v. Wade. In Alito, Bush has picked a judge who has been involved in the one of the most significant abortion case in recent years. As a federal appellate judge, Alito backed a Pennsylvania law that required women to inform their husbands before they sought an abortion. His support came in the form of a dissenting vote in the landmark case Planned Parenthood v. Casey which eventually went to the Supreme Court in 1992. The high court voted 6-3 to strike down the spousal notification requirement. Last night Senate minority leader Harry Reid said Alito is not one of the names of acceptable nominees that he gave to the president. Reid said of Alito’s nomination “I think it would create a lot of problems.”
For the first time in 130 years, a White House staff member has been indicted for crimes committed in the office. On Friday, Lewis “Scooter” Libby was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents during the CIA leak investigation. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Until Friday Libby was a central figure in the Bush White House holding three top positions: chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, national security adviser to the vice president and assistant to the president. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment on Friday. President Bush’s chief advisor Karl Rove has so far escaped indictment for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. But Rove remains under investigation. On Sunday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Bush to apologize and for Rove to resign. Bush and Cheney have both praised Libby for his service. The top candidate to replace Libby is David Addington who currently works as the vice president’s legal counsel. Three years ago he wrote a memo that asserted the war on terrorism renders obsolete the Geneva Convention’s limitations of questioning detainees. Ambassador Wilson accused Libby and the White House of outing his wife, Valerie Plame. He said, “Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.”
New polls show that the public trust in the Bush administration has reached a new low. A new ABC News/Washington Post Poll has found Bush’s approval rating to be just 39 percent–the lowest of his presidency. Meanwhile 46 percent of the country says the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined under Bush. Only 15 percent of the country feel Bush has restored honesty and ethics to the government. This comes after what Time Magazine described as the worst week of Bush’s presidency. Within a span of four days the U.S. death toll in Iraq topped 2,000, Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court and Lewis Scooter Libby was indicted and resigned. Time described it as Bush’s QUOTE “Week from Hell.”
In Washington, over10,000 people began lining up Sunday outside the Capitol to pay homage to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks who died last week at the age of 92. Parks’ body is lying in honor at the U.S. Capitol in the Rotunda. According to Senate historian Richard Baker, Parks is the first private citizen to ever be accorded the honor. She is also the first woman and second African-American to lie in honor at the Capitol. The tribute is usually reserved for heads of state. President Reagan was the last person to lie in state at the Capitol. A memorial service will be held today at the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington. Her body will then be flown to Detroit for a funeral on Wednesday. On Sunday a memorial service was also in Montgomery Alabama. We’ll have more on Rosa Parks later in the show.
In Iraq–the Pentagon has announced the U.S now has more troops in Iraq than at anytime during the invasion or occupation. The total number of troops has now topped 161,000. At least eight U.S. troops have died since Thursday bringing the total to 2,015. Meanwhile attacks on Sunday killed the brother of one of Iraq’s two vice presidents and wounded a deputy minister.
This comes as the Arab League increased its calls for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. In an interview, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said “The end of foreign occupation is one of the pre-requisites if we are to witness any progress in our efforts to help Iraq go forward.” He went on to say QUOTE “It is not a taboo… we cannot talk about the future of Iraq without discussing (the) foreign presence and the end of the occupation.
Meanwhile Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is now claiming that he tried to convince President Bush not to invade Iraq. “I have never been convinced that war was the best system to make a country democratic and help it escape dictatorship, even a bloody one,” he said. “I tried many times to convince the American President not to go to war.”
In India–at least 62 people died on Saturday in the Indian capital of New Delhi in a string of bombings that targeted three crowded market areas in the city. Over 200 people were injured. At least 89 remain hospitalized. The attacks came during the Hindu festival of Diwali. Police in Delhi are now staging one of its biggest manhunts ever in the nation’s capital. A little know Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.