The President’s call comes one day after he urged Congress to approve the White House’s proposed revisions to military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. On Thursday, several key Republicans and military lawyers said the President’s new proposals would not withstand legal scrutiny. Brigadier General James Walker, the Marines’ top uniformed lawyer, criticized the administration’s attempts to retain provisions that would deny defendants the right to see evidence used against them. According to the New York Times, Walker said no civilized country should deny a defendant that right and that the US “should not be the first.”
In Europe, President Bush’s acknowledgement of his administration’s secret prison program is prompting calls for increased scrutiny of CIA activities.
Meanwhile Thursday, Europe’s top human rights official called for the monitoring of CIA agents operating throughout the continent. The official, Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, said he would support a review of granting diplomatic immunity. He said: “Immunity should not mean impunity.” Davis also called for a ban on the transport of suspects in military planes.
In Afghanistan, at least eighteen people are dead and more than two dozen wounded after a suicide car bombing struck a US military convoy earlier today. Eight Afghan civilians and two American soldiers are among the dead. The attack comes as the US-led NATO force is appealing for more troops, helicopters and planes to continue its mission.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera has aired new video showing Osama bin Laden meeting with some of the hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks. The footage shows two hijackers delivering what is believed to be there last statements before 9/11.
In Iraq, there are growing signs of what the Washington Post calls “the most dramatic surge in violence” during the US-led occupation. On Thursday, Baghdad’s morgue said it’s nearly tripling its count of violent deaths last month. Officials have revised the toll from five hundred and fifty dead to more than fifteen hundred. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry says it’s approved construction of two morgues to accommodate the rising death toll.
In another development, the Pentagon said Thursday US troops are being targeted with more roadside bomb attacks than ever before. Around 1200 improvised explosive devices — IEDs — were set off in August — four times more than in January of 2004. IEDs are the leading killer of US troops in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has shut down another television network inside the country. On Thursday, officials said Al Arabiya’s bureau in Baghdad will be closed for a month for inciting violence and carrying “unprofessional” reporting. Al Arabiya’s main rival, Al Jazeera has been barred from Iraq for more than two years.
In the Occupied Territories, a senior UN official is warning daily life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is reaching a “breaking point.” The official, UN Relief and Works Agency Karen Abuzayd, says Israel’s ongoing military offensives and economic blockade is creating suffering and mass despair for Gaza’s one and a half million residents. Abuzayd called on the international community to send an influx of foreign monitors.
Back in the United States, the Bush administration’s ongoing effort to win Senate approval of UN Ambassador John Bolton is again facing internal Republican opposition. On Thursday, Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island said he will not vote for Bolton until the Bush administration answers his questions on US policies in the Middle East. Chafee says he wants the Bush administration to block Israel’s expansion of its settlements in the Occupied West Bank. Senator Chafee is facing re-election this year. Bolton was given a recess appointment last year after his nomination failed to win enough support in the Senate.
After weeks of increased speculation, former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage has admitted he was the primary source to reveal the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Armitage maintains the disclosure was an error and he did not know Plame was a covert operative.
And finally, more than 5,000 people gathered on the National Mall Thursday in support of the rights of undocumented immigrants. The We Are America Alliance rally comes as House Republicans announced they would launch a new effort to pass several border crackdown measures before their recess next month.