In Detroit Wednesday, over 4,000 mourners attended a funeral service for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. The service lasted over seven hours, three hours past its scheduled time. Guests included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former President Bill Clinton, and singer Aretha Franklin. Parks died on October 24th at the age of 92.
The Bush administration is refusing to confirm or a deny a Washington Post account that the CIA is using a secret, Soviet-era prison run in Eastern Europe to hold prisoners. The prison is apparently a part of global network of CIA-run prisons in several countries. At the request of US officials. the Post did not reveal the location of the facilities. Human Rights Watch has identified Poland and Romania as likely locations, citing flight records of CIA aircraft transporting detainees from Afghanistan. A spokesperson for the Polish defense ministry denied the allegations to the Financial Times. A Romanian spokesperson declined comment. Agence France Presse is reporting Czech Republic Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan says his country recently turned down a US request to set up a detention center on its territory.
In light of the Washington Post revelations, Bush administration officials insist they will not tolerate the use of torture at home or in any foreign prisons. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said: “We’re doing everything we can to protect America but we obviously do everything we can to do it in a way that’s consistent with our legal obligations.” Yet there are no indications the Bush administration has dropped a controversial proposal that would exempt CIA agents from a Senate ban on torture. Speaking in New York yesterday, President Jimmy Carter criticized the Bush administration’s stance: “The insistence by our government that the CIA or others have the right to torture prisoners in Guantanamo and around the World is just one indication of what this administration has done that’s a radical departure from past policies.” Carter also lashed out at the Bush administration’s justifications for the war on Iraq. Carter said: “I think that the claims that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and the claims that he had massive weapons of mass destruction that would threaten our country were manipulated at least to mislead the American people into going to war.”
Meanwhile the White House responded to a Democratic move that moved the Senate to a secret session on pre-war intelligence Tuesday. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said: “If Democrats want to talk about the threat that Saddam Hussein posed and the intelligence, they might want to start with looking at the previous administration and their own statements that they’ve made.” McClellan said the Democrats “used the intelligence to come to the same conclusion that Saddam Hussein and his regime were a threat.”
The Washington Post is reporting several top colleagues of Karl Rove believe he should be dismissed from his position as President Bush’s chief advisor. The Post reports senior Republicans say Rove will have to at minimum issue an apology for making misleading statements about his role in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. A Republican strategist who has discussed Rove’s future with top administration officials said: “Karl does not have any real enemies in the White House, but there are a lot of people in the White House wondering how they can put this behind them if the cloud remains over Karl. You can not have that [fresh] start as long as Karl is there.” Meanwhile, indicted White House aide Lewis Libby is set to make his first court appearance at an arraignment hearing in Washington today. Libby faces 5 charges including obstruction of justice and perjury in connection to the outing of Plame’s identity.
This news on Bolivia–the country’s former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was served more than wine and cheese at a Washington luncheon Tuesday. U.S. citizens acting on behalf of Bolivian human rights organizations handed Sanchez de Lozada a summons to appear before a Bolivian investigation into human rights abuses under his administration. The allegations center around the deaths of more than 50 people during anti-government protests in the fall of 2003. Sanchez de Lozada fled the country shortly after, and now lives in Washington. Doug Hertzler, an American anthropologist who delivered the legal papers, said: “I approached him and I said Mr Sanchez de Lozada I hereby serve you with legal documents from the Bolivian government requiring you to appear in court to answer questions about the wrongful deaths of 2003. He took the documents from me, but the man standing next to him immediately began to say ’don’t do that’ and pushed me from the room. At that point I didn’t really see what happened after that, I’m pretty sure Mr. Sanchez de Lozada didn’t say anything he just had a kind of stunned look on his face.”
In Iraq, separate incidents claimed the lives of at least 53 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. troops Wednesday. Two U.S. troops were killed near Ramadi when insurgents reportedly shot down their helicopter. The Washington Post reports U.S. aircraft returned and dropped bombs near the crash site, killing at least 20 people. Elsewhere in the country, a suicide bomber exploded a minibus in an outdoor market in the town of Musayyib, killing 20 people and wounding 60 others.
In other Iraq news, the interim Iraqi government announced plans to re-incorporate thousands of dismissed military officers from the Saddam Hussein regime. The officers were layed off in April 2003 by Paul Bremer, the former head of the U.S. occupation. Analysts interpreted the move as an attempt to lure back disaffected Sunni Arab former soldiers who joined the resistance after the dismissals.
In this country, a coalition of grassroots organizations is calling on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to release a long-expected inspector general’s investigation into wrongdoing by former Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson. Common Cause, the Center for Digital Democracy and Free Press have urged the CPB’s board of directors to immediately release the report, which has only been reviewed in private. Tomlinson is accused of committing ethical and procedural breaches and misusing CPB funds.
In other media news, CNN has replaced prime-time news anchor Aaron Brown with Anderson Cooper, who currently occupies the network’s seven to eight p.m. timeslot. Brown will leave the network.
In France, riots that have gripped several Paris suburbs continued for a seventh day Wednesday. The protests erupted following the deaths of two teenagers last week. Young people clashed with police and burnt cars in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of the French capitol. Protesters told the Associated Press the unrest was an expression of frustration with unemployment and police harassment in the areas. The suburbs are home to a large North African immigrant population. One protester said quote: “People are joining together to say we’ve had enough. “We live in ghettos. Everyone lives in fear.” Police say they have made at least 35 arrests.
The Washington Post is reporting House Republicans are pushing a measure that would remove nearly 300,000 people off food stamps. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the number includes 70,000 legal immigrants. 40,000 children would lose eligibility for subsidized school lunches. The food stamp cuts are one several measures included in a congressional budget cutting-package. Others include a $5 billion reduction in state child-support enforcement, and a cut of almost $400 million in foster care programs. The Post notes these cuts would be more than offset by the $70 billion in tax cuts Republicans will be pushing in the coming weeks.
And thousands of people took part in the World Can’t Wait protests against President Bush yesterday. Rallies took place in major cities across the country on the anniversary of Bush’s re-election a year ago. In New York, students walked out of schools to join a march that drew thousands of people to Times Square. In San Francisco, over 2,000 people demonstrated. Ten people were arrested, including nine for blocking traffic. Police used force to disrupt a “die-in” at a downtown intersection.