In his first public comments as CIA Director Porter Goss has admitted that the Bush administration’s policies in the Middle East are fueling Islamic resentment and are helping anti-American terrorists recruit new members. Goss said “These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries.”
In news from Iraq, the Shiite political coalition that won last month’s election will pick its nominee to be Prime Minister by secret ballot on Friday. Members of the United Iraqi Alliance will choose between Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi. Jaafari is Iraq’s interim Vice President and is expected to win the secret vote. He is the leader of the religious Dawa Party. Chalabi is a secular Shiite and the head of the Iraqi National Congress. For years Chalabi was closely allied to right-wing U.S. politicians who backed regime change in Iraq. The U.S. public relations company Rendon helped create Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress as the face of the opposition to Saddam Hussein. But relations between Chalabi and the U.S. soured last year. In August an Iraqi judge issued an arrest warrant for Chalabi but the arrest was never carried out. He has also been accused of secretly maintaining close ties to Iran and of feeding fabricated information about Iraq’s weapons capabilities to US intelligence agencies and to journalists ahead of the Iraq invasion.
In other news from Iraq, four former private security contractors who worked in Iraq have told NBC News that they witnessed private contractors kill innocent Iraqi civilians. Retired Army Ranger Captian Bill Craun said”What we saw, I know the American population wouldn’t stand for.” Contractors reportedly terrorized civilians, shooting indiscriminately as they ran for cover, smashing into and shooting up cars. Craun quit after seeing innocent Iraqi teenagers shot dead on the street. In an email after the incident Craun wrote “I didn’t want any part of an organization that deliberately murders children and innocent civilians.” Another contractor quit saying he didn’t want to witness anything that could be classified as a war crime.
Iran announced Wednesday that it would join with Syria to face any “challenges and threats” from the United States. Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said “We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats.”
The announcement comes at a time that relations between the two countries and the United States are quickly worsening. Earlier this week the U.S. pulled its ambassador in Syria following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. On Wednesday Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “we have an increasing list of problems with Syria.”
In London, 35 demonstrators from Greenpeace marked the enactment of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming by storming the trading floor of the International Petroleum Exchange in London. Trading was interrupted for one hour. Some of the protesters were attacked and 12 were injured. The Guardian of London reported that angry traders pulled a large metal bookcase on top of the protesters. Meanwhile guards punched and kicked other protesters. Three Greenpeace climbers hung a banner from the roof declaring “Climate change kills. Stop pushing oil.” At least 10 of the protesters were arrested.
The Associated Press has obtained evidence that outgoing Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge met with Republican pollsters at least twice last spring while he was on a trip through several presidential battleground states. While Ridge was meeting with Republican strategists Frank Luntz and Bill McInturff, the agency was publicly saying it was playing no role in Bush’s re-election campaign. Ridge once said, “We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security.” The evidence of the meeting appears in a just-released copy of Ridge’s calendar from last year. Ridge released the calendar just three days before he left office. Ridge denied the meetings had anything to do with the presidential campaign.
In his first official move as Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales has announced the government will go after a pornography company in California for violating federal obscenity laws. Last month a U.S. District Judge dismissed the government’s indictment against the hard core film company but Gonzales announced Wednesday the government would appeal the ruling.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives has voted to raise the maximum fines against broadcasters that air indecent material to as much as $500,000 for each violation. That marks a more than tenfold increase over the current maximum fine of about $32,000. The new fines are so large, a single violation could take many community and public radio stations off the air.
And in South Dakota, the state affairs committee has unanimously passed a bill that would make conducting an abortion a felony if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade. Doctors who did abortions could face up to two years in prison and a $2,000 fine.