In Iraq, at least 22 people have been killed so far today in a series of attacks in Baghdad. 13 died in a bomb blast at an army recruitment center. Meanwhile eight police officers were shot dead in their squad cars. Some 250 people have died over the past week since since Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari announced part of his cabinet line up.
Meanwhile the military is saying it will not files charges against a Marine who was caught on film shooting dead an unarmed Iraqi lying in a mosque in Fallujah. Investigators said they had determined the Marine Corporal was acting in self-defense. Sources have told NBC that the Marine corporal also shot three other unarmed insurgents inside the mosque. The killing was captured by a NBC News cameraman and broadcast around the world.
In Britain, voters are heading to the polls today for national elections. Election observers have predicted Prime Minister Tony Blair will win a third term. We’ll have a report on the British elections on tomorrow’s broadcast.
In New York, at least one small explosion occurred early this morning outside the British consulate in midtown. No injuries were reported.
One of the Pentagon’s top analysts working on Iran — Larry Franklin — has been arrested for passing top secret information to employees of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The highly classified information was then passed on to Israeli officials. Franklin turned himself in on Wednesday and denied any wrongdoing. He has been under investigation for a year. He faces up to 10 years in prison. AIPAC is not named in the criminal complaint but government officials had previously said Franklin met with two officials from the organization at a restaurant in June 2003. Two weeks ago, those two men — AIPAC’s policy director Steve Rosen and Iran specialist Keith Weissman — left the organization. Franklin has been accused of providing AIPAC with a draft presidential directive that proposed a tougher policy on Iran, which included consideration of covert action towards regime change. The Guardian of London described the arrest as a serious blow to neoconservatives in the Pentagon. Franklin was a close associate of outgoing under-secretary of defence and chief neoconservative Douglas Feith.
The Washington Post has obtained new information in the death of Pat Tillman — the professional football who quit the NFL to fight in Afghanistan. Tillman died just over a year ago in Afghanistan. At the time the Army reported he died after being hit by enemy fire. According to a new Army report — the first Army investigator who looked into Tillman’s death found within days that he was killed by his fellow Army Rangers in an act of “gross negligence.” However Army officials decided not to inform Tillman’s family or the public until weeks after a nationally televised memorial service. Documents obtained by the Washington Post also show that officers destroyed critical evidence and initially concealed the truth from Tillman’s brother who was also an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.
A military judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Lynndie England — the female soldier photographed abusing and mocking Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. In one photo she posed while holding a leash around the neck of a naked Iraqi man. The judge threw out her guilty plea saying he wasn’t convinced that England knew her actions were wrong. The announcement came after England’s former boss and lover — Charles Graner — told the military court he had ordered England to pose for the photographs. He said the photographs were a “legitimate training aid for other guards.” The judge then told England “If Private Graner is to be believed, he was not violating any law, so you could not be violating any law.” The judge went on to say “If you don’t want to plead guilty, don’t. But you can’t plead guilty and say you’re not guilty. … You can’t have it both ways.” England is now expected to be retried.
The FBI announced Wednesday it will exhume the body of Emmett Till in an attempt to determine who killed him nearly 50 years ago. The murder of the 14-year-old African-American boy shocked the nation and helped fuel the civil rights movement. Till was pulled from his bed in Mississippi and brutally killed, allegedly for whistling to a white store clerk. Two white men implicated by eyewitnesses were acquitted by an all-white jury. New evidence in the case emerged during the production of a recent PBS documentary implicating many others in the murder.
In Mexico — authorities have announced that criminal charges will not be pressed against Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The federal government has threatened to charge the popular mayor on minor charges that would have blocked him from running next year.
Meanwhile a Cuban man connected to the 1976 bombing of a commercial airliner is in the news agin this week. The man — Luis Posada Carriles — is one of the most notorious militant opponents of Fidel Castro. He was trained 40 years ago by the U.S. military and is now seeking political asylum in Florida. On Tuesday Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled that the government should seek his extradition from the United States to face terrorism charges. In 1985 he escaped from a Venezuelan prison after being jailed in connection to the airline bombing that killed 73 people. He has also been jailed in Panama for trying to assassinate Castro on Panamanian soil. Castro has described Posada as “the most famous and cruel terrorist of the western hemisphere.” Earlier this week State Department official Roger Noriega spoke about Posada’s request for asylum and gave mixed messages. Accordin He claimed the Bush administration didn’t know for sure if Posada was in the United States. He said Cuban claims about Posada QUOTE “may be a completely manufactured issue.” At the same time Noriega said the U.S. is QUOTE “not interested in granting him asylum.”
And gay rights pioneer Jack Nichols has died at the age of 67. He was a writer and early gay activist who campaigned publicly for gay rights nearly a decade before the Stonewall riots of 1969. In 1961 he co-founded the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights advocacy group. He was also a co-founder of Gay — the first gay weekly newspaper in the United States. In addition he helped organize some of the country’s first civil rights demonstrations on behalf of gay men and lesbians. He also successfully campaigned for the American Psychiatric Association remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Up until his death Nichols edited the online publication GayToday.com.