This news from the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui — An FBI agent testified Monday the government ignored warnings that could possibly have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Greg Samit, who arrested Moussaoui in August 2001, said he spent four weeks trying to convince his superiors Moussaoui posed a security risk. According to Samit, the warnings were made at least seventy times, and FBI officials were even told of a specific threat of a plane attack on the World Trade Center. But Samit said his efforts were stonewalled. Samit blamed his superiors’ “obstructionism, criminal negligence and careerism” for blocking “a serious opportunity to stop the 9/11 attacks.”
In the latest violence from Iraq, 17 police officers were killed today when gunmen stormed a prison north of Baghdad. Almost three dozen prisoners were freed in the attack, which also left 10 of the gunmen dead. The prison was left in flames. The assaults came one day after at least 39 people were killed in violence around the country.
In France, unions and student groups have called a general strike for next week against a new employment law that will make it easier for companies to fire young workers. Over half a million people filled streets across the country this weekend in protest. According to a new poll, 68 percent of French citizens are opposed to the measure. The government has stood firm on the First Job Contract law, which allows employers to fire workers under the age of 26 years old for any reason during a two-year trial period.
Meanwhile, a demonstrator is in a coma after sustaining critical injuries at a Paris demonstration Saturday. According to his union, the man, Cyril Ferez, was beaten viciously by police. A photo taken of the incident shows Ferez lying on the ground before he is swarmed by police. Witnesses accused police of refusing to call the paramedics after they beat him.
In the Occupied Territories, Israel has re-opened a border crossing to the Gaza Strip following heightened warnings of a massive food crisis. Israel had shut down the Karni crossing for most of the last three months, citing security reasons. The closure led to a shortage of wheat, dairy and other humanitarian goods in Gaza, home to over 1.5 million Palestinians.
In Serbia, tens of thousands of people turned out in Belgrade this weekend to honor Slobodan Milosevic, a week after he died in his prison cell at the Hague. Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who supported Milosevic during his war crimes tribunal, was there.
At least two thousand people gathered for a counter-demonstration in Belgrade on Saturday. Meanwhile, the dispute over the circumstances of Milosevic’s death continues. Attorneys acting on behalf of his family are requesting access to medical files on his condition in the months before he died. The request comes after the Hague announced a new autopsy found Milsovic did not die of poisoning, as his supporters have claimed.
In Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko is facing a challenge at home and abroad amid allegations his government committed massive fraud to win Sunday’s election. Lukashenko was reelected with 82 percent of the vote. Over 15,000 people have demonstrated in the capital in the last two days to contest the results. Thus far, Russia is the only major foreign country to accept the vote.
Back in the United States, anti-war protests continued to mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion. In Washington, hundreds of people marched on the Pentagon, carrying a mock coffin they intended to give to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The demonstrators were met with a steel barrier erected by police to bar their entry. About 50 people were arrested when they managed to cross the fence. Among them was Michael Berg, whose son Nicolas Berg was beheaded by Iraqi kidnappers in 2004. Before his arrest, Michael Berg said: “My son was killed out of revenge for the atrocities that Americans committed at the Abu Ghraib prison; murdering, raping, and torturing prisoners there. So for me to say look how horrible what they did to my son certainly I’m entitled to revenge well there are people who can say the same thing because there are people over there in Iraq who lost their sons and daughters in that prison and there are a 100,000 people in Iraq dead and think of all the families there that think they’re entitled to revenge. I don’t think revenge is justified under any circumstances. revenge is an endless cycle and it has to stop somewhere and it stops with me.”
And in New Orleans, ten people barricaded themselves inside one of the country’s oldest black Roman Catholic Churches Monday to protest its planned closure. Freed slaves founded the St. Augustine Church in 1841. The New Orleans Archdiocese plans to close it down as a cost-saving measure. We reached Cynthia Dolliole, who is among the ten people inside the church. She said: “We are just trying to get answers as to why they would close the oldest black church in the US when everyone in New Orleans has lost everything else and now we are trying to make us lose our church; we’re very disappointed and hoping someone will hear us and we’ll get better answers than what we’ve gotten before.”