The Pentagon has adopted a new homeland security plan that calls for the U.S. military to greatly expand its domestic role. The Washington Post reports the new plan expands the military’s presence not only in the air and sea at home but also on the ground and in other less traditional areas including intelligence sharing with civilian law enforcement. According to the Post, the document does not ask for new legal authority to use military forces on U.S. soil, but it raises the likelihood that U.S. combat troops will take action in the event that civilian and National Guard forces are overwhelmed. The document also calls for military intelligence analysts to be teamed with civilian law enforcement to identify and track suspected terrorists. And it asserts the president’s authority to deploy ground combat forces on U.S. territory to “intercept and defeat threats.” The Post reports that in the area of intelligence, the document speaks of developing “a cadre” of Pentagon terrorism specialists and of deploying a number of them domestically to work with the FBI and local police forces. Gene Healy of the Cato Institute said, “The move toward a domestic intelligence capability by the military is troubling. The last time the military got heavily involved in domestic surveillance, during the Vietnam War era, military intelligence kept thousands of files on Americans guilty of nothing more than opposing the war.” Healy added, “I don’t think we want to go down that road again.”
In Iraq, Pakistan’s ambassador has left the country after he was nearly assassinated on Tuesday. Over the past four days, Iraqi fighters have targeted a number of Muslim diplomats. On Saturday, armed men kidnapped Egypt’s top envoy, Ihab al-Sharif, who remains missing. Sharif was set to become the first ambassador from an Arab nation in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. On Tuesday, Bahrain’s top diplomat was also shot.
A coalition of central Asian countries — including Russia and China — have called on the U.S. to withdraw its military presence from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and to stop meddling in the domestic affairs of the region. The coalition known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization passed a declaration that read, “Considering that the active phase of the military anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan has finished, member states… consider it essential that the relevant participants in the anti-terrorist coalition set deadlines for the temporary use’ of bases in Central Asia.” The coalition’s move appeared to be an attempt to push the United States out of a region that Moscow regards as historically part of its sphere of influence and in which China seeks a dominant role because of its extensive energy resources. The U.S. has used military bases in both former Soviet Republics in the war against Afghanistan. The U.S. has also been accused of being behind recent uprisings in three former Soviet republics: Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan The President of Kazakhstan said ’There should be no place for interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.”
In Scotland, protesters are demonstrating today outside the meeting of the G8 where President Bush and other world leaders are gathering. Earlier in the day police ordered demonstrators to call off the protests but then reversed their decision after protest organizers gave police an ultimatum to permit the march or face a mass protest in Edinburgh. The BBC reports the G8 summit marks the biggest security operation in the history of Britain. At least 60 protesters have already been arrested today. Scotland has been the scene of a series of demonstrations since Saturday. On Saturday, over 200,000 people took to the streets of Edinburgh. The Indymedia UK website is reporting that earlier today protesters blocked a busload of Japanese delegates from attending the summit.
In Washington, the Bush administration is poised to revive its program to develop new nuclear bombs designed to target underground facilities. The Senate has defeated a measure that would have prohibited the use of government funds to research the so-called bunker buster bombs. California Senator Dianne Feinstein said “In essence, these policies encourage other nations to develop their own nuclear weapons thereby putting American lives and our national security interests at risk. We are telling the world, when it comes to nuclear weapons, do as we say, not as we do.” In April, the National Academies of Sciences issued a report warning that a 300-kiloton bunker buster could kill more than a million people, if it occurred in a densely populated area.
The Justice Department has called for a pair of journalists from Time Magazine and the New York Times to be jailed today for refusing to reveal their confidential sources. In court filings, federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said, “Journalists are not entitled to promise confidentiality — no one in America is.” A federal judge could order the journalists Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller to be jailed as early as today for refusing to testify before a grand jury that is investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
The United Church of Christ has become the country’s largest Christian church to endorse same sex marriage. Roughly 80 percent of the church’s general body approved a resolution on Monday calling on member churches to consider wedding policies that “do not discriminate against couples based on gender.” It also asks churches to consider supporting legislation granting equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples and to work against laws banning same sex marriage
In Florida a suspicious fire has forced a women’s health clinic in Palm Beach to temporarily close down. On Monday, a fire was apparently set at the Presidential Women’s Center which is the only remaining women’s health clinic that performs abortions in Palm Beach County. Lou Silber, the center’s attorney, said, “It was an act of terrorism, an act of arson that did a great deal of damage. This is not going to close us down. We are going to open up as soon as possible and provide women medical services.” Florida has been the scene of numerous attacks against abortion providers. In the early 1990s two doctors from Pensacola were murdered. In the late 1990s, 10 clinics were the target of acid attacks. Monday’s fire came almost a year to the day after an arsonist set ablaze another women’s center in Lake Worth Florida.
In Singapore, the International Olympic Committee has voted to hold the 2012 Olympic games in London. The final vote came down between the rival cities of London and Paris. Eliminated in the opening rounds of voting were New York, Moscow and Madrid.
And the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama turns 70 years old today. To mark the occasion thousands of pilgrims have journeyed over the Himalayas from Chinese-occupied Tibet to the Indian city of Dharamsala. The Dalai Lama has lived in exile from Tibet since he was 23 years old.