Today in Britain, memorials are being held to mark the one week anniversary of the coordinated bomb attacks that killed more than 50 and wounded more than 700 people. Among the events was 2 minutes of silence that was observed across the European Union. Late Wednesday, Scotland Yard continued its raids, searching another house northwest of London, but no arrests were reported. News reports have identified three Britons of Pakistani descent as suspects in the bomb attacks. Britain’s Press Association, citing police sources, said that police had identified a fourth suspect, but no name or details were reported.
Meanwhile, British police have identified a British-born man who they say masterminded the coordinated bomb attacks on London last week. According to the London Times, the man is believed to be in his thirties and of Pakistani origin. The paper says he arrived at a British port last month and is understood to have left the country the day before the bombings killed at least 52 people. Meanwhile, The New York Times is quoting an unnamed US official as saying the man is a British citizen. The paper says that while he is not “Anglo,” said the American official, he is not of Pakistani descent. On Wednesday, several US law enforcement officials identified one of the suspected bombers as a Jamaican-born British resident named Lindsey Germaine. The other suspected bombers were of Pakistani descent and lived in the working-class neighborhoods of Leeds.
President Bush said Wednesday he would not comment on the role that his powerful senior advisor Karl Rove may have played in revealing the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame until a federal criminal investigator has finished his work. Bush made his comments with Karl Rove sitting behind him.
REPORTER: Can I ask you if you have spoken with your deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, about the Valerie Plame matter? And do you think he acted improperly in talking about it with reporters?”
BUSH:I have instructed every member of my staff to fully cooperate in this investigation.......I also will not prejudge the investigation based on media reports. We’re in the midst of an ongoing investigation, and I will be more than happy to comment further once the investigation is completed.
REPORTER: Mr. President, on that note, has Mr. Rove come to you and discussed — when did he discuss the fact that he had conversations with reporters about Valerie Plame? And based on that, do you feel as though it was appropriate in 2003 for your spokesman to say definitively that Karl Rove had nothing to do with the Valerie Plame?
BUSH: We’re in the midst of an ongoing investigation. And this is a serious investigation. And it is very important for people not to prejudge the investigation based on media reports. And, again, I will be more than happy to comment on this matter once the investigation is complete.”
Dems Call on Bush to Strip Rove’s Security Clearance
Meanwhile, all of the Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have called on President Bush to revoke Rove’s security clearances and access to classified information. In a letter to the President, all nine Democrats on the Committee urged him to take immediate action. Massachusetts Democrat John Tierney said “It is outrageous that even though Mr. Rove has acknowledged, through his attorney, that he disclosed the identity of a covert intelligence officer, he continues to have access to our nation’s highest level of classified intelligence.”
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman has been circulating pages of so-called talking points on the scandal that focus on attempting to discredit Ambassador Joe Wilson, the husband of the outed CIA operative. The talking points instruct GOP operatives to attack Wilson’s credibility and his fact-finding mission to Niger, in which Wilson found that there was no evidence Iraq had attempted to import uranium from the African nation. Wilson has long charged that his wife was outed in retaliation for his debunking of one of the administration’s key justifications for the invasion of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Republican Congressmember Peter King of New York said on MSNBC’s Scarborough program “Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they’re the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove. Listen, maybe Karl Rove was not perfect. We live in an imperfect world. And I give him credit for having the guts.” Those the words of New York Republican Peter King.
An Islamic scholar has been sentenced to life in prison in the US for urging Muslims to join the Taliban in Afghanistan and fight US troops after the 9/11 attacks. Ali al-Timimi was convicted by a court in Alexandria, Virginia, in April. The 41-year-old cleric says he is innocent and his lawyers have described the case as an attack on free speech and religious freedom. Defense lawyers argued that al-Timimi only told young Muslims that they might be better off leaving the country because it would be difficult to practice their faith in the US. Before his sentencing yesterday, al-Timimi said “I will not admit guilt nor seek the court’s mercy. I do this simply because I am innocent.”
Bernard Ebbers, the creator of the telecommunications giant WorldCom, was sentenced to 25 years on Wednesday for his role in the fraud that led to the company’s collapse. The $11billion fraud resulted in the biggest bankruptcy in US history. The Judge in the case rejected the defense’s contention that Mr Ebbers was not a mastermind of the accounting fraud. She said Ebbers was “clearly a leader of criminal activity in this case.” When the company went bankrupt more than 20,000 workers lost their jobs and shareholders lost about $180 billion. Ebbers is the first of six former WorldCom executives and accountants to face sentencing this summer.
Military investigators examining alleged abuse of prisoners at the Guantanamo Prison camp say they found no evidence that there was torture or that senior leaders imposed faulty interrogation policies, but they also documented treatment such as leashing a terror suspect and forcing him to behave like a dog. A few individual interrogators and military personnel are facing punishment, but a recommendation by investigators to sanction the former prison commander was overruled by a senior general.
But reports are now emerging that that commander, Major General Geoffrey Miller, is linked to the abuse at both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The Washington Post reports that months before the world learned of the abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, interrogators at Guantanamo forced a prisoner to wear women’s underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains. The paper cites the newly released military investigation. The techniques were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani — the alleged “20th 9/11 hijacker” as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee. The Post says that the report’s findings are the strongest indication yet that the abuse seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used several months before the United States invaded Iraq. The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees. Major General Geoffrey Miller commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib. Miller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib’s startup, and he later sent in “Tiger Teams” of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift. Miller would have been the highest-ranking officer to face discipline for detainee abuses so far, but Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, declined to follow the recommendation.
The chief judge of Iraq’s special tribunal announced yesterday that Saddam Hussein could go on trial as early as next month for his alleged role in a massacre 23 years ago. The judge said he could face the death penalty. Four other former Iraqi officials would stand trial in the case, in which Saddam’s security agents allegedly shot dead at least 50 people after a plot to assassinate him was uncovered. Iraqi officials have announced the imminent start of Saddam’s trial before, only to have the proceedings delayed. His lawyers say that they have not been allowed to see any of the evidence against Saddam and charge that they are being denied access to their client.
The Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, William Rehnquist, was taken by ambulance to a Virginia hospital last night for observation and tests after complaining of a fever. Word of Rehnquist’s hospitalization came after court security personnel went to his Arlington home on two occasions Wednesday. Officers were observed taking clothing, shoes and Rehnquist’s cane from the residence before driving off. There is mounting speculation that he could step down any moment.