The country’s intelligence agencies have concluded that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has increased the overall terrorist threat by spawning a new generation of Islamic radicalism. This conclusion appears in a still classified National Intelligence Estimate that was completed in April. One intelligence official told the New York Times that the report concluded the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse despite contradicting claims made by the White House. The report represents a consensus view of the 16 spy services inside the government. The NIE report is the first formal assessment of global terrorism by US intelligence agencies since the invasion of Iraq.
The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan has now exceeded the number of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. has lost about two thousand seven hundred troops in Iraq and another two hundred eighty in Afghanistan. This surpasses the official death toll of 9/11 of two thousand nine hundred seventy three. Meanwhile the Iraqi death toll in just July and August was over sixty six hundred.
The Washington Times is reporting the Army is studying whether to add more combat units to the rotation plan for Iraq and accelerating the deployments for some brigades. U.S commanders have decided to keep more than 140,000 troops in Iraq until at least next spring. This comes as the Army is requesting a 41 percent budget increase for the next year.
On Sunday, Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani asked for a long-term US military presence in Iraq. He said Iraq will need two permanent US air bases to deter what he calls 'foreign interference.' On Friday Talabani spoke at the United Nations.
In Afghanistan, a top women’s affairs official in the southern province of Kandahar has been killed. Safia Amajan was shot dead as she left her home for work. Amajan had served as the head of Kandahar’s women affairs department for five years. She was a well known advocate for women’s rights and a critic of the Taliban.
In Lebanon, hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters gathered on Friday to hold what they described as a victory rally. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah made his first public appearance since the war. Nasrallah vowed not to disarm Hezbollah until the right conditions were in place. He said that the "steadfastness" of Hezbollah had foiled the US plan to create a so-called "new Middle East."
A prosecutor in Germany has told Newsweek that he is conducting a probe into the CIA officials involved in the kidnapping of Khalid El-Masri. El-Masri is the German citizen who was seized by the CIA in Macedonia and flown to a jail in Afghanistan. He was wrongly suspected of involvement with 9/11 conspirators. A Spanish newspaper has published the names of 20 CIA agents and contractors believed to have been involved. They include Eric Fain, James Fairing and Kirk James Bird. All three apparently work for the North Carolina company Aero Contractors which has been identified as a possible CIA front company.
A French newspaper has reported that it has seen a French intelligence memo that claims Osama Bin Laden died last month in Pakistan of typhoid. The report has been met with widespread skepticism. The Saudi and Pakistani governments have said they have no evidence that Bin Laden is dead.
Bin Laden was also the subject of a heated interview with former President Clinton on Fox News. Chris Wallace asked him if he had done enough to capture Bin Laden.
President Clinton went on to criticize the Bush administration for not focusing on Bin Laden during the eight months prior to the Sept. 11th attacks.
At the United Nations, Egypt has criticized the United States and other Western powers for blocking efforts to declare Israel’s nuclear arsenal a threat. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said "It is unacceptable that these countries continue to ignore the danger posed by the Israeli nuclear threat to stability and security in the Middle East."
Exxon Mobil is being accused of spreading '’inaccurate and misleading'’ information about climate change by financing groups that misinform the public on the issue. The British scientific group Royal Society criticized the oil company of sending nearly three million dollars last year to groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Meanwhile the Natural Resources Council of Maine has released a new report on how global warming could impact the state’s coastline. One historic site considered to be at extreme risk of being submerged underwater is the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport.
The Department of Homeland Security has awarded the defense contractor Boeing a sixty seven million dollar contact to build a virtual fence along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. The virtual fence will utilize sensors, cameras and drones to monitor the border. Last week the House of Representatives voted to build a 700 mile physical fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The number of journalists killed for their work has reached 580 over the past 15 years. The study by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that seven out of every 10 journalists killed were targeted in retaliation for their reporting and were hunted down to be murdered.
Tensions between the United States and Venezuela continue to rise. Last week, the U.S. officials detained Venezuela’s foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro at JFK Airport as he traveled home. Maduro says he was verbally abused and strip searched. The Bush administration initially claimed the incident did not happen.
The African Union has announced plans to send more troops into Sudan to reinforce its peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Meanwhile Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on the Sudanese government to uphold the peace agreement.
In Italy, over 20 people have been arrested after the discovery of an illegal spy operation that targeted high-level politicians, business leaders and journalists. Among the arrested was the former chief of security for Telecom Italia. The suspects were accused of spying on a wide range of personalities, tapping their phones, gathering bank and legal records and other sensitive data. Italy’s Justice Minister said the spy operation amounted to an "attack on democracy."
The Bush Administration is being urged to restrict the export of high-tech surveillance equipment to China. The Electronic Privacy Information Center says U.S. companies like Oracle, Cisco and Motorala have sold technology products to Chinese police and security that could help them track political dissidents.
Meanwhile here in this country, the chair of Hewlett-Packard, Patricia Dunn, has resigned as new details emerge about how the company spied on journalists as well as members of its board. The company hired private investigators to obtain the phone records of journalists and the company considered planting spies in the newsrooms of the Wall Street Journal and Cnet.
In Puerto Rico, thousands gathered on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the FBI’s killing of independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. The September 23rd rally also marked Grito de Lares — a holiday to commemorate the day Puerto Ricans rebelled to demand independence from Spain in 1868. Meanwhile, the ACLU of Puerto Rico has sued the FBI for beating and macing 20 Puerto Rican journalists earlier this year. The incident occurred when the journalists attempted to cover an FBI raid of the home of a prominent pro-independence activist, Lilian Laboy.
Anti-war protests are continuing across the country as part of the Declaration of Peace Week. On Thursday 34 religious leaders, veterans and peace movement activists were arrested at the White House. In Maine eleven protesters were arrested after refusing to leave the Bangor office of Senator Olympia Snowe. Nine more protesters were arrested in Portland Oregon at Senator Gordon Smith’s office. On Saturday 37 people were arrested at the Indian Island naval base near Port Townsend, Washington. Over 350 communities are holding protests and vigils to mark the Declaration of Peace Week which began on Thursday.
In other news, Louis Farrakhan, has announced he is seriously ill. The 73-year-old leader of the Nation of Islam made the announcement in a letter on Friday.
And the labor activist and singer Joe Glazer has died at the age of 88. In 1950 he was the first singer to record a version of the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."
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