President Bush said Tuesday that he was “pleased with the progress” in Iraq and later agreed that the Iraq invasion will someday be seen by historians as “America’s golden moment.” Bush’s comments came during a morning news conference at the White House. But the fighting continues on the ground in Iraq. The governor of Anbar province was found dead on Tuesday — three weeks after he was kidnapped. And the month of May ended with the U.S. losing 77 soldiers — making it the deadliest month for the United States since January. To date just over sixteen hundred fifty U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq.
On Tuesday the U.S. military admitted that the Iraqi resistance has doubled its number of daily attacks since April. Meanwhile U.S. officials are publicly admitting they do not have enough troops in Iraq to handle the resistance. Maj. John Wilwerding — of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment — said the U.S. has far too few troops in northwestern Iraq — a region spanning about 10,000 square miles. He said “Resources are everything in combat … there’s no way 400 people can cover that much ground.”
And in Baghdad, Iraq’s president Jalal Talabani announced Tuesday that he expects the trial of Saddam Hussein to open within two months.
At Tuesday’s presidential news conference, Afghanistan was never mentioned — but the war there ravages on. Earlier this morning in Qandahar, a suicide bomber blew himself up killing at least 20 and wounding dozens. The attack came at a mosque that was holding a memorial service for a leading cleric who was assassinated last week. The cleric was an ally of President Hamid Karzai and a vocal critic of the Taliban. On Monday a roadside bomb in Kabul killed seven Afghans — the target of the bomb was a passing NATO convoy. And on Sunday, clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces killed as many as 18.
Analyst Juan Cole describes this recent upswing in deadly violence as the Iraqization of Afghanistn. He said “It seems clear that the Taliban have learned from observing events in Iraq, and are developing a similar strategy of targetted bombings to destabilize the country and force US troops out. ”
One of the great mysteries of U.S. politics appears to have been solved: the identity of Deep Throat. On Monday the Washington Post confirmed former FBI official Mark Felt was the paper’s secret source that helped unravel the Watergate scandal and topple President Richard Nixon. At the time, Felt was the number two man at the FBI. He is now 91 years old and living in California Vanity Fair broke the story Tuesday morning. Later in the day, after Felt’s family spoke publicly, the reporters who unraveled the Watergate story — Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — confirmed Felt was their secret source. The Watergate scandal began on June 1972 when the D.C. police arrested five men for breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel. It turned out the men were connected to President Nixon’s re-election team. But it took years for the story to unfold. With the help of Deep Throat, Woodward and Bernstein uncovered a series of startling revelations that brought down the Nixon government.
By the end of the Watergate scandal, Nixon was forced to resign to avoid impeachment. In addition more than 30 government and Republican campaign officials were convicted of charges including perjury, burglary, wiretapping and obstruction of justice. On Tuesday Mark Felt’s family said they hope he will now gain his proper place in history.
On Tuesday President Bush dismissed a report on U.S. committing human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay. He told reporters at a news conference “I’m aware of the Amnesty International report. It’s an absurd allegation.” Last week Amnesty compared Guantanamo to the Soviet-era gulag prison camps. Meanwhile the Associated Press is reporting it has obtained government documents that indicate many Guantanamo detainees may be at the prison only because they were sold to the U.S. for a bounty. During military tribunals held at the prison, detainees testified that they were essentially sold to the U.S. who were paying thousands of dollars in cash for suspects. One former CIA intelligence officer who helped lead the search for Osama bin Laden told AP the accounts sounded legitimate because U.S. allies regularly gave out money to help catch Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. That officer — Gary Schroen — said he took a suitcase of $3 million in cash into Afghanistan himself to help supply and win over warlords.
The Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. The firm was convicted of obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the Enron scandal ahead of a government investigation. The justices unanimously agreed that the instructions given to the jury were too vague.
The Bush administration is threatening to withhold $10 million in military aid to Kenya if the country does not agree to exempt Americans from prosecution at the International Criminal Court. The U.S. wants Kenya to sign a pledge that it would never hand over any American accused of war crimes to the World Court without U.S. approval. Kenyan politicians have accused the U.S. of blackmailing the country. The United States has signed so-called bilateral non-surrender agreements with 100 countries.
In Bolivia, mass protests led by indigenous groups forced the government to suspend a meeting of the national Congress when legislators were unable to make it to the session. Police lobbed tear gas and fired water cannons at the protesters who are calling for the nationalization of energy resources.
In Washington, President Bush met Tuesday at the White House with one of the leading opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Maria Corina Machado is the founder of the group Sumate which helped promote an unsuccessful referendum against Chavez. The Bush administration has had ties to Machado before — the National Endowment for Democracy helped fund the organization ahead of last year’s referendum.
And jazz singer, playwright and activist Oscar Brown has died at the age of 78. He was known for such compositions “The Snake,” “Signifyin’ Monkey” and lyrics for Miles Davis’ “All Blues.” He was also active in the civil rights and anti-war movements.
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