Human Rights Watch is calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is criminally liable for the torture of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. According to an Army Inspector General’s report obtained by the online magazine Salon.com, Rumsfeld was personally involved in the abusive interrogation of a Saudi man named Mohammad al-Qahtani. The report reveals Rumsfeld communicated weekly about the interrogation of Kahtani with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller at Guantanamo. Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch said, "The question at this point is not whether Secretary Rumsfeld should resign, it’s whether he should be indicted." Human Rights Watch maintains Rumsfeld could be liable under the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates when he knew or should have known that crimes were being committed, but fails to stop them.
The report from Salon.com comes as Rumsfeld is facing a revolt from within the military. On Sunday Wesley Clark became at least the seventh retired general to call for Rumsfeld to step down.
Meanwhile Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers defended Rumsfeld and said it is wrong for other generals to criticize the Secretary of Defense.
In news on Iran, Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is urging the White House to hold direct negotiations with Iran. On Sunday Lugar said one-on-one talks could prove useful in breaking the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times of London is reporting that Iran has 40,000 trained suicide bombers prepared to strike at U.S. and British targets. And the Scottsman reports British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told President Bush that Britain cannot offer military support to any strike on Iran.
In Israel, at least six people have died after a suicide bomber blew himself up in Tel Aviv. The attack took place outside a restaurant called The Mayor’s Felafel which was also the target of a bombing in January. At least 30 people were also wounded in the blast.
In news on Iraq, an internal State Department review has determined U.S. officials are doling out millions of dollars of arms and ammunition to Iraqi police units without ensuring the units are complying with U.S. laws that ban taxpayer-financed assistance for foreign security forces engaged in human-rights violations. The Chicago Tribune reports officials failed to take steps to comply with the laws over the past two years, amid mounting reports of torture and murder by Shiite-dominated Iraqi security forces. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy crafted the law in the early 1990s after disclosures of widespread abuse by U.S.-supported forces in Latin America.
In other news on Iraq, the London Times reports the U.S. military is planning a "second liberation of Baghdad" in order to try to pacify the city. This comes as a new report by the Inter Press Service found that the morgue in Baghdad is now receiving over 85 bodies on an average day. Scores of family members gather outside the morgue each day to see if their missing loved ones are among the dead.
Meanwhile construction on the massive new U.S. embassy in Baghdad is a third complete. The fortress-like compound will be the largest U.S. embassy in the world. The complex will contain 21 buildings spread over 100 acres. With a staff of over 5,000 the embassy will resemble a small town on the Tigris River. It will contain its own defense force, water wells, electricity plant and wastewater-treatment facility.
In Afghanistan, U.S. officials have opened investigations into two separate reports of U.S.-led forces killing civilians. Seven Afghan civilians are believed to have died on Saturday when U.S. aircraft bombed a house near the Pakistan border.
In Nepal, pro-democracy protests and strikes have entered their 12th day. On Sunday over 30,000 people defied a government ban on public gatherings and demonstrated in the capital of Katmandu in some of the largest protests to date. Meanwhile the general strike is being felt throughout the country. Widespread fuel and food shortages have been reported. And the nation’s banks have closed in support of the general strike. On Saturday police beat and detained a number of journalists protesting curbs on press freedom.
Here in this country, federal authorities have decided to deport Palestinian activist and professor Sami Al-Arian after failing to convict him on charges he helped lead the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian reportedly reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser version of one of the charges and be deported. Al-Arian has remained in jail since he was acquitted in December of eight of the 17 federal charges against him and the jury deadlocked on the rest. The verdict was a major defeat for the Bush administration.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System Board has voted to divest from any companies with ties to Sudan because of the government’s role in the genocide in Darfur. The board oversees the country’s second largest pension fund. The board’s vote came just weeks after the University of California regents voted to divest from companies connected to Sudan.
In business news, it has been revealed that Lee Raymond, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, received a total of $686 million in compensation between 1993 and 2005. That comes out to an average of nearly $150,000 a day.
In Milwaukee, an all-white jury has acquitted three white police officers charged with brutally beating an African-American man. U.S. attorneys are now considering filing federal charges against the officers. Milwaukee’s Mayor Tom Barrett said he was absolutely shocked and outraged by the verdict. The victim, Frank Jude, was nearly killed in October 2004 after he was beaten by a group of off-duty police officers at a party. According to news accounts the officers accused Jude of theft and then proceeded to viciously beat him. They repeatedly punched and kicked him in the head and body. His fingers were pulled back, a knife was put to his neck and anus, his pants were cut off and objects were jammed into both ears. An emergency room doctor who treated Jude testified he had the worst ear injuries she had ever seen in 15 years of practice. The doctor also testified Jude had two fractures, to his sinus and nasal bone, an eye swollen shut, a grossly swollen hand, marks on his neck consistent with choking and cuts and bruises over much of his face and body.
In Los Angeles, 5,000 people marched on Saturday to call for immigrant rights and to mark the death of Anthony Soltero. Soltero was the 14-year-old middle school student who shot and killed himself two weeks ago shortly after taking part in a school walk out to protest proposed anti-immigration legislation/. According to his family, the school’s vice principal threatened Soltero that he could be sent to jail for three years for missing class because of the immigration protest. The school has disputed the family’s claims. Anthony Soltero’s mother spoke on Saturday. Meanwhile the New York Times reports hundreds of immigrants who have taken part in recent protests have been fired from their jobs.
In Tennessee, a white supremacist with Neo-Nazi ties has been convicted of attempting to acquire Sarin nerve and C-4 explosives in order to blow up government buildings. The man, Demetrius Van Crocker, once told an FBI informant that he dreamed of riding a motorcycle to Washington D.C. and setting off a dirty nuclear bomb while the House and Senate were in session. Crocker also said he wanted to get a helicopter license so he could bomb or spray poison gas on the African-American neighborhoods in Jackson Tennessee. Crocker was arrested after he bought nerve gas from an undercover agent. His attorney argued Crocker was prone to exaggeration and was a victim of entrapment. Despite the serious charges, the national press has ignored the story. The New York Times, Washington Post or Los Angeles Times have yet to report on Crocker’s arrest or conviction. A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the radical right has attempted to carry out at least 60 terrorist plots since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
In Ireland, 120,000 people gathered in Dublin Sunday to mark the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising — a short-lived 1916 rebellion against British rule. During the uprising, Irish rebels seized parts of Dublin from the British and declared an Irish Republic. The rebellion failed and the British executed 15 leaders. But the uprising inspired the Irish independence movement. Five years later 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties became free of British rule.
At the University of Virginia, 17 student protesters were arrested Saturday on the fourth day of a sit-in to demand living wages be paid to campus workers. Police dragged the students from Madison Hall. Other students have set up a tent city outside the hall.
And Cindy Sheehan and others returned to Crawford Texas to protest outside President Bush’s estate. At a sunrise service on Easter Sunday the Rev. Joseph Lowery urged the protesters to keep working for peace.
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