Federal prosecutors have decided not to charge President Bush’s top advisor Karl Rove with any crimes in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. No official statement has been made by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. But Rove’s attorney says Fitzgerald announced the decision in a letter to him on Monday. Rove had been at the center of the investigation for over two years and had been forced to testify on five occasions to a federal grand jury on his role in the outing of Plame, who was the wife of Iraq war critic Ambassador Joseph Wilson. To date only one person in the Bush administration has been indicted in the leak case — Lewis Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. We’ll have more on the decision in a few minutes.
Earlier today an Israeli air strike in Gaza killed as many as nine Palestinians including two children. According to the Israeli newspaper seven of the dead were civilians and two were members of the militant group Islamic Jihad. The Israel Defense Forces claimed that the militants were on their way to fire rockets at Israel. Yasser Abed Rabbo, of the Palestinian Legislative Council condemned the Israeli missile strike: “This is an attempt by Israel to create the cycle of violence and to attract retaliation from the Palestinian armed group. We think that this cycle of violence is not in the interest of any party.”
Meanwhile infighting is intensifying between the two major Palestinian factions: Fatah and Hamas. On Monday, supporters of Hamas attacked the offices of Fatah-dominated security services in Gaza City. Two died and 15 others were injured. Then in the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds of security personnel loyal to Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas stormed the Parliament building and set it ablaze. We’ll have more from the Occupied Territories later in the show.
The Bush administration requested a federal judge on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union over the government’s warrantless domestic surveillance program. Monday marked the first time a lawsuit over the National Security Agency’s program made its way to court. The ACLU asked the court in Detroit to force the NSA to shut down the program. The group maintains President Bush was not authorized by Congress to order the NSA to begin eavesdropping on Americans. The ACLU also believes the president violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that forbids surveillance of people inside the United States without a warrant. Attorneys from the Justice Department defended the legality of the program but told the judge that the evidence needed to demonstrate its lawfulness cannot be disclosed without causing grave harm to national security. After the court hearing, the ACLU’s executive director Anthony Romero called the government’s invocation of the state secrets privilege '’Orwellian doublespeak.'’ Romero said, ’’They argued essentially that the N.S.A. program was off limits to judicial review.”
In Iraq, at least 18 people have died in a series of five car bomb attacks in the oil rich city of Kirkuk. Another 40 people were injured. Meanwhile in Baqouba, a U.S. raid has left nine people dead including two children. The military claimed the raid targeted men with ties to senior Al-Qaida leaders in Iraq. But local residents accused the U.S. of killing civilians. Tensions between British troops and Shiite Iraqis in the province of Maysan are escalating. On Sunday the provincial council suspended all cooperation with the British forces after clashes left five people dead. The council accused the British troops of injuring old men, women and children.
In other news, the U.S. military has revealed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi remained alive for nearly an hour a U.S. airstrike hit a safehouse where he was staying. The military initially claimed Zarqawi died in the strike. The autopsy showed Zarqawi stayed alive for 52 minutes after the first blast and 24 minutes after US forces arrived at the scene. The U.S. is denying reports from Iraqi witnesses that Zarqawi died after a U.S. soldier stepped on his chest. Meanwhile several Islamic Internet sites have announced an Egyptian man named Abu Hamza al-Muhajer has been selected to be Zarqawi’s successor as the head of the group the calls itself Al Qaeda of Iraq.
Global military spending has reached a new record high of over $1.1 trillion dollars. The United States accounted for nearly half of the world’s military spending. According to the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $1,600 on its military for every American. Meanwhile China spent just $31 per person. India spent less than $19 per person. The study also determined that military spending is actually decreasing in Europe with the biggest cuts recorded in England and Spain.
Twenty-seven religious leaders including megachurch pastor Rick Warren and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, have signed a statement urging the United States to “abolish torture now — without exceptions.” The group’s statement appears in a series of newspaper ads bought by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. The statement reads in part “Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation.”
Meanwhile the Bush administration is once again rejecting calls to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison following the suicide of three men on Saturday.
Meanwhile in Washington, the Center for Constitutional Rights held a press conference condemning the administration’s treatment of detainees at the military base.
In Britain, a group of Islamic organizations are condemning Scotland Yard’s handing of last week’s terror raid in east London. On June, 250 officers raided the homes of two brothers of Bangladeshi ancestry at four in the morning. At the time the police accused the men of plotting a chemical weapons attack. One of the brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar, was shot during the raid. Both men were held for a week, interrogated and then freed without charge after police failed to find any evidence to hold them. Human rights attorney Gareth Pierce said the family would be launching a legal action for damages against the police commissioner.
The Senate is expected to vote as early as today on the nomination of Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The United Mineworkers and AFL-CIO has opposed his nomination of the former coal industry executive. Mineworkers President Cecil Roberts said “Too often these mining executives place priority on productivity, but fail to focus on miners’ health and safety.” According to the United Mineworkers the mines Stickler managed from 1989 to 1996 had injury rates that were double the national average. Union leaders have also criticized Stickler for declining to endorse new mine safety rules. This included those passed by the West Virginia Legislature in January following the Sago explosion that killed 12 miners.
And in Florida, more than 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate along the Gulf of Mexico as the first tropical storm of the hurricane season, Alberto, made landfall this morning.