The country’s intelligence agencies have concluded the Iraq war is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives around the world. That is one of the main conclusions of a partially declassified National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism written by the nation’s 16 spy agencies. President Bush ordered the declassification of a four page summary of the NIE after the contents of the report were leaked to the press. Part of the National Intelligence Estimate concluded “The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” President Bush dismissed claims that the report indicates the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
The New York Times reports that nowhere in the National Intelligence Estimate is there evidence to support President Bush’s claim that the country is winning the war on terror. Democrats have called for the White House to declassify the entire NIE. Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman said there was a second NIE focused purely on Iraq. Harman said, “I hear it paints a grim picture. And because it does, I am told it is being held until after the November elections.” President Clinton’s former national security aide P.J. Crowley said the Iraq invasion has helped Al Qaeda and other fundamentalists.
On Capitol Hill, Congressional Quarterly reports that Democrats are not planning any organized effort to filibuster the controversial military commissions and detainee treatment bill even though many do not agree with some of the specifics in the legislation. Democratic aides say they did not want to give Republicans an opportunity to paint them into a corner ahead of the November elections. One senior Democratic aide said “We’re going to do what we can to limit the amount of daylight between us and them on national security issues in order to neutralize this as a political issue.” Outside of Congress, opposition to the detainee bill is mounting.
31 former Ambassadors — including 20 who served in Republican administrations — have warned lawmakers not to eliminate habeas corpus for prisoners. They said such a move would make a mockery of the administration’s efforts to promote democracy. Meanwhile Human Rights Watch is urging Congress to reject the entire bill. The group warned that the legislation will undermine the rule of law by denying the fundamental right of habeas corpus to detainees held abroad, by defining “unlawful enemy combatants” in a broad manner, and by limiting protections against detainee mistreatment. Human Rights Watch said the most troubling part of the bill is its “court-stripping” provision, which would bar detainees in U.S. custody anywhere around the world from challenging the legality of their detention via habeas corpus actions.
In news from Iraq, a new poll conducted by the State Department has found a strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to withdraw from the country. In Baghdad nearly 75 percent of residents said they would feel safer if the U.S. forces left. 65 percent of Baghdad residents favored an immediate pullout. The poll shows a deep divide between the residents of Iraq and its political leaders. Earlier this week Iraqi president Jalal Talabani called for the United States to permanently keep two air bases inside Iraq.
The Pentagon has awarded the Lincoln Group a new two-year $6 million dollar contract to monitor English and Arabic media outlets in Iraq and to help the military with public relations. The Lincoln Group is the company that the Bush administration used to plant U.S. military propaganda in the Iraqi press.
In Washington, 71 people were arrested on Tuesday during a series of protests against the war in Iraq. The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance organized the actions as part of the Declaration of Peace week.
In Afghanistan, 18 people died Tuesday in a suicide bomb attack outside the compound of a provincial governor. The bombing occurred while Afghan President Hamid Karzai was in Washington where he spoke at a news conference with President Bush.
A United Nations official has accused Israel of turning the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians where life is intolerable, appalling and tragic. John Dugard, the Special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory, charged that Israel’s security measures are in violation of international humanitarian law and amount to “collective punishment.” Dugard said “Gaza is a prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key.” Meanwhile, the Israeli military is continuing to carry out attacks inside Gaza. On Tuesday, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl died after an Israeli airstrike destroyed a house in Rafah. 10 others were injured in the bombing. Doctors said most of the wounded were women and children.
The United Nations has determined that up to a million cluster bomblets discharged by Israel remain unexploded in southern Lebanon. Cluster bombs have killed at least 14 people in Lebanon since the war ended. The UN says the problem is so severe that it could prevent 200,000 displaced people from returning home for up to two years. Last month, the UN’s humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, accused Israel of “completely immoral” use of cluster bombs in the conflict. Meanwhile a British company called ArmorGroup has been awarded a five point six million dollar contract to clear the region of unexploded bombs and land mines.
Activists from Greenpeace have blocked an oil tanker from leaving a port in the country of Estonia. The Dutch tanker is at the center of a major environmental crisis in the African nation of Ivory Coast. Last month the tanker dumped hundreds of tons of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan. The dumping has already led to eight deaths and tens of thousands of people have sought medical treatment after getting sick from the toxic fumes. UN experts have said the toxic waste contained the chemical hydrogen sulfide. Officials in Ivory Coast have called for the tanker to be returned to the region so it can be used as evidence.
Meanwhile a new report published by the National Academy of Sciences has determined that the Earth’s temperature has climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years. The report says this warming has already begun to affect plants and animals.
In news from Capitol Hill, the confirmation of John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has stalled again. No vote on his confirmation is expected until November. Bolton is serving under a temporary appointment that will expire when the current Congress concludes in January.
This news from China… a jailed Chinese journalist has announced plans to sue the Internet company Yahoo because it handed over information to the Chinese government that led to his imprisonment. The journalist, Shi Tao, is now serving a 10-year jail sentence.
In business news, Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron, has been sentenced to six years in prison. Fastow is the highest-level Enron executive to be sentenced so far. Two years ago he agreed in a plea deal to serve 10 years in prison but a judge agreed to reduce his sentence.
In California, a four-day trial has begun examining the legality of lethal injection. On Tuesday, a top California law official admitted that state prison guards had bungled last year’s execution of former gang leader Stanley Tookie Williams.
In news from South Africa, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu is warning that South Africa is in danger of losing its moral direction. He said a respect for the law, environment and even life, were missing in the country.
Desmond Tutu’s comments came as he spoke to reporters prior to giving the Steve Biko memorial lecture at University of Cape Town. He said South Africa was not alone in facing hardships.
Here in this country, a federal judge has ordered a new trial for Judith Clark — the former member of the Weather Underground. Clark is serving a 75 year sentence in connection to the 1981 robbery of a Brinks armored-truck in which a guard and two policemen were killed. The judge ruled that Clark deserves a new trial because she was not represented in the courtroom during her first trial. Clark had served as her own attorney but was often not in the courtroom.
And finally in an update from a story Democracy Now! covered yesterday, Army medic Agustin Aguayo turned himself in on Tuesday at Fort Irwin in California. He had refused to return to Iraq and went AWOL. Aguayo held a news conference before he turned himself in.