A series of bomb blasts ripped through the London subway system during rush hour this morning. As many as 7 separate blasts have been reported. At least one double decker bus was also reportedly blown up, with witnesses describing it like a can of sardines being ripped open. Details remain very vague but officials are saying that many people have died and scores more have been injured. As people emerged from the underground, they described what had happened. Police officials say there was evidence of explosives in at least one of the six sites. Prime Minister Tony Blair has left the G8 summit in Scotland and is headed back to London. Before leaving, Blair addressed the world media:
“Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack, or a series of terrorist attacks, it’s also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G-8. There will be time to talk later about this. It’s important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking this morning before leaving Scotland.
Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official has been widely quoted today as saying that British police told the Israeli Embassy in London minutes before today’s explosions they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city. Israel was holding an economic conference near the scene of one of the explosions. Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to attend, but the attacks occurred before he arrived. The official said that just before the blasts, Scotland Yard called the security officer at the Israeli Embassy and said warnings of possible attacks had been received.
Back in this country, a US District Judge ordered New York Times Reporter Judith Miller jailed yesterday for refusing to reveal her confidential sources to a special prosecutor investigating who in the Bush administration leaked a covert CIA officer’s identity. Miller spent last night in the same prison facility that houses accused terror suspect Zacharias Moussawi. Matt Cooper of Time avoided jail, after what he described as “a stunning set of developments”, telling the court he had changed his mind and would cooperate after the source he protected for two years released him from his promise of confidentiality. His source came forward after Time Inc. turned over his notes and e-mails last week, over Cooper’s objections, effectively giving away the source’s identity. Cooper said “A short time ago, in somewhat dramatic fashion, I received an express, personal release from my source.”
Since the beginning of this scandal, the top suspect in many eyes has been President Bush’s senior advisor Karl Rove. Today, the New York Times quotes a source the paper says has been officially briefed on the case as saying that Matt Cooper’s source was indeed Karl Rove. This detail is buried in the 24th paragraph of the Times lead story. The paper says Cooper’s decision to drop his refusal to testify followed discussions on Wednesday morning among lawyers representing Cooper and Rove. The independent prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald was reportedly also involved in the discussions.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Joe Wilson, whose wife, Valerie Plame, was exposed as an undercover CIA operative, issued a statement last night, saying, “The conspiracy to cover up the web of lies that underpinned the invasion of Iraq is more important to the White House than coming clean on a serious breach of national security. Thus has Ms Miller joined my wife, Valerie, and her twenty years of service to this nation as collateral damage in the smear campaign launched when I had the temerity to challenge the President on his assertion that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Africa.” Wilson continued, “The real victims of this cover-up, which may have turned criminal, are the Congress, the Constitution and, most tragically, the Americans and Iraqis who have paid the ultimate price for Bush’s folly.”
More than 100 members of the Iraqi parliament are now officially calling for the US to withdraw its troops from Iraq. They are demanding that the National Assembly adopt a resolution cancelling the request made by the Iraqi government to the UN Security Council to extend the presence of multinational forces. They also call on the government to set a timetable for withdrawal.
The US Army has ordered nearly $5 billion in work from the Halliburton Corporation in Iraq over the next year—that’s $1 billion above what the Army paid for similar services the previous year. The new order comes despite serious questions about the company’s past billing practices. Last week, the Pentagon confirmed a report by congressional Democrats saying that the Defense Contract Audit Agency has questioned more than $1 billion of Halliburton’s bills for work in Iraq. Among the costs that Pentagon auditors questioned were more than $150,000 for movie rentals, $1.5 million for tailoring and two multimillion-dollar transportation bills that appeared to overlap.
Meanwhile, the army announced this week it is buying 16 tactical blimps to use in Iraq. The cost of the unmanned, tethered blimps is estimated at $12 million. The blimps are part of a contract the Army has with Raytheon Corporation. The airship’s use was demonstrated last fall over Washington, when an A-170 manned blimp hovered over the city for 24 hours. Blimps have also recently been used to monitor protests such as the demonstrations against the Republican National Convention in New York last year.
The Pentagon admitted on Wednesday that the US military is holding at least five U.S. citizens among more than 10,000 prisoners in Iraq. All of the five are being held without charges or access to lawyers. They are all being held on loose suspicion of being linked to the Iraqi resistance. The Defense Department refuses to identify the five. But the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have identified one as 44-year old Cyrus Kar, an aspiring filmmaker from Los Angeles who was arrested in Iraq in May. An ACLU spokesperson said Kar has been held virtually incommunicado for more than 50 days and called his detention “illegal, unconstitutional and inhumane.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is investigating three professors whose work suggests that the earth’s climate is warmer now than at any time in many centuries and that increasing levels of greenhouse gases from burning fossils fuels are largely to blame. In letters to the three scientists last week, Congressmember Joe Barton of Texas demanded detailed documentation about the hundreds of studies on which they were an author or co-author. Barton also sent a letter to the director of the National Science Foundation that requests information about the work of the three professors, as well as a list of all grants and awards in the area of climate and paleoclimate science, which number 2,700 in the past 10 years. The investigation focuses on studies by Michael Mann, an assistant professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia; Raymond Bradley, a professor of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; and Malcolm Hughes, a professor in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research of the University of Arizona. Congressmember Barton worked in the oil-and-gas industry before being elected to Congress in 1984. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he has consistently ranked as one of the top five recipients of campaign contributions from that industry over the past decade.
A court of appeals in Chile has stripped ailing ex-dictator General Augusto Pinochet of his immunity in a case involving political prisoners killed during his iron-fisted rule. The case alleges Pinochet’s involvement in the abduction and killing of political prisoners during what his intelligence services dubbed “Operation Colombo.”
Meanwhile, a Peruvian judge has ordered the arrest of 118 soldiers for their alleged involvement in the massacre of peasants in an Andean village in 1988. The judge issued the order in connection with the torture and killing of more than two dozen people in Cayara.
Bolivia’s interim president, Eduardo Rodriguez, announced yesterday that he has scheduled presidential elections for Dec 4. This followed weeks of indigenous-led revolt that brought down President Carlos Mesa.
A delegation of right-wing talk radio hosts is headed to Iraq this month on a mission to report what they call “the truth” about the war: American troops are winning, despite headlines to the contrary. They are calling it the “Truth Tour” and they will be broadcasting from the occupation’s headquarters in Baghdad’s Green Zone. One of the radio hosts, Mark Williams, from KFBK in Sacramento told Fox News, “We are Americans first and journalists second, as opposed to the crop of 'pinkos' that tell us on the news every night that America is going to hell in a hand basket.”
President Bush has had another accident on his bicycle. He collided with a local police officer in Scotland and fell during a bike ride on the grounds of the Gleneagles golf resort while attending the G8 summit. Bush suffered scrapes on his hands and arms that required bandages by the White House physician. The police officer suffered an ankle injury.