On Capitol Hill, the Senate is coming under increased criticism for hastily voting last week to overturn a Supreme Court ruling on the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. By a 49 to 42 vote, the Senate agreed to strip detainees of their right to challenge their detention in federal courts, eliminating their writ of habeas corpus. The measure only passed because it received support from five Democrats: Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon. Now Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico is planning to put forward an amendment as early as today to reverse the Senate’s vote. Meanwhile former military officials are also criticizing the decision to strip detainees of their right to habeas corpus. John Hutson, a retired rear admiral, is collecting signatures from about 60 former officers who oppose the proposal. The National Institute of Military Justice has also announced its opposition to the measures. Attorneys and legal historians have noted that the right to habeas corpus dates back 800 years. Attorneys Jeremy Hirsh and Timothy Fisher write “Since the time of the Magna Carta, the rule of law has meant that a person may not be imprisoned without a lawful reason, and now is no time for us to deviate from that rule of law.”
In Jordan, police have arrested a 35-year-old Iraqi woman in connection with last week’s attacks on three western hotels that killed 57 people. On Sunday Jordanian TV aired a confession from a woman identified as Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi. She is the wife of one of the other three Iraqi suicide bombers. During her confession she explained her role in the bombings. In the videotaped confession, she is wearing the explosives belt that was meant to be used in the attack. According to news reports the woman’s late brother had been the Anbar province leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
In news from Iraq–an Iraqi Red Crescent doctor has told the Reuters news agency that 54 bodies have been found in the rubble in the Iraqi town of Qaim near the Syrian border. Among the dead were women and children. Last week the U.S. led a major assault on the area. Until now the military had claimed only insurgents were killed in the offensive.
With President Bush’s approval ratings falling to new lows, the White House has launched a new public relations offensive to defend the invasion of Iraq. On Friday Bush lashed out at critics of the war during a Veteran’s Day speech at an Army depot in Pennsylvania. “While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,” Bush said. “Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.” Throughout the weekend, Republican operatives repeatedly attacked Democratic Senators for criticizing the war even though many of them initially backed the invasion. In October, 2002, 29 Democratic Senators voted to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq. Only 21 Democratic Senators voted against the war.
Meanwhile new opinion polls show President Bush’s approval ratings have sunk to just 36 percent. This according to a new poll from Newsweek. Meanwhile 68 percent of respondents said they are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.
In New Jersey, the Republican candidate who lost last week’s governor’s race has blamed President Bush in part for his defeat. Doug Forrester said, “If Bush’s numbers were where they were a year ago, or even six months ago, I think we would have won on Tuesday. Katrina was the tipping point.” The Republicans lost gubernatorial races on Tuesday in both New Jersey and Virginia.
The White House has been accused of trying to rewrite history after requesting Congressional Quarterly and the Federal News Service to alter the transcript to a October 31 press briefing. Both news agencies reported White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan responded to a question about the CIA leak case by saying “that’s accurate.” But the White House insists he said, “I don’t think that’s accurate.” So far both Congressional Quarterly and the Federal News Services have refused to change their transcripts but the White House website now claims McClellan said “I don’t think that’s accurate.”
Time Magazine is reporting CIA interrogators apparently tried to cover up the death of an Iraqi “ghost detainee” who died while being interrogated at Abu Ghraib prison. Autopsy reports show the detainee Manadel al-Jamadi died of blunt force injuries and asphyxiation. He is believed to have suffocated after an empty sandbag was placed over his head while his arms were secured up and behind his back, in a crucifixion-like pose.0. To cover up the killing, blood was mopped up with a chlorine solution before the interrogation scene could be examined by an investigator. A bloodstained hood that had covered his head also disappeared. Although the CIA has ruled the killing a homicide, the CIA interrogator involved in his death remains free and continues to work for the agency. Jamadi was being held in a secret part of the Abu Ghraib prison that was off limits to international observers including the Red Cross. Concern has been growing in recent weeks over what takes place in these secret CIA prisons. The Washington Post recently revealed the CIA is operating a network of secret prisons around the world including two in Eastern Europe.
In Italy, federal prosecutors have requested the extradition of 22 CIA operatives who have been accused of illegally seizing a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan. The cleric disappeared in February of 2003 and ended up in an Egyptian prison where he was reportedly was tortured.
In Canada, the country’s federal court announced Friday it would review the case of American war resister Jeremy Hinzman. Hinzman is a U.S. soldier who fled to Canada to seek asylum instead of going to fight in Iraq. Earlier this year his asylum request was denied.
Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn is warning the Gaza Strip could turn into a “giant prison” unless Israel eases its border controls and permits the free movement of goods and people. Since evacuating the Gaza Strip, Israel has maintained tight control of its border essentially isolating the region from its neighbors. Wolfeson is the former World Bank president who now serves as the special envoy to the Middle East for the United States, European Union, Russia and United Nations.
Meanwhile, in Israel tens of thousands gathered on Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
In Brazil, a well-known environmentalist is in critical condition after setting himself on fire. The 65-year-old Francisco Anselmo de Barros set himself ablaze on Saturday during a protest against the construction of alcohol factories in the Pantanal wetlands region. Barros has been active in the environmental movement for decades and serves as president of the Foundation for the Conservation of Nature in Mato Grosso do Sul.
In Japan, thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday to protest the U.S. military’s plan to expand its base at Camp Zama. Some 3,000 people surrounded the U.S. base to form a human chain. The Pentagon has announced plans to move the Army 1st Corps headquarters from Washington State to Camp Zama in Japan and to set up a Ground Self-Defense Force headquarters at the site.
The Boston Globe is reporting that more than 5,000 high school students in five of Massachusetts’ largest school districts have removed their names from military recruitment lists. In Boston, about 3,700 students, or 19 percent of those enrolled in the city’s high schools, have removed their names from recruiting lists. At Cambridge Rindge and Latin School more than half the student body, ordered the school system not to give their names to the military this year.