Another leading Pakistani opposition leader has been arrested as Pakistan reels under continued emergency rule. Imran Khan was detained after making his first public appearance since President Pervez Musharraf announced he would rule by decree. Khan was the last of Musharraf’s most vocal critics not jailed or in exile. Main rival, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, declared Tuesday that Musharraf should step down. Speaking from behind barbed wire at her home in Lahore, Bhutto predicted Pakistan’s military would soon begin defying Musharraf’s orders.
Benazir Bhutto: “I’m sure as the days pass, more and more of the police force, who are after all working families, are all going to think about their nation first, rather than carrying out the illegal orders of a military — of a military regime where there is emergency and fundamental rights suspended.”
Thousands of people have been arrested in the crackdown. A Lahore resident said Musharraf’s public support is at a new low.
Lahore Resident: “This is a so-called democracy. If there is any democracy in the country, then why Benazir has been detained? She was ready to lead a rally for the restoration of democracy, but authorities detained her.”
Musharraf has defended his crackdown as the only way to fight insurgents responsible for a series of attacks. On Tuesday, he said he imposed the emergency rule to save Pakistan as a nation.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf: “I would like to ask: Is democracy more important than the country? If the country is going down and becoming a failed state, is arresting that more important or running a democratic system, so-called democratic system, more important? Which one is more important? Obviously, save the government, save the nation.”
The Bush administration has continued to support Musharraf during the crisis. On Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Tom Casey said Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte would visit Pakistan later this week.
State Department spokesperson Tom Casey: “I think there has at least been some change in the initial positions taken by President Musharraf, though obviously not enough for us to feel comfortable that Pakistan has in fact returned to this democratic path that we want to see it move towards.”
Preliminary findings are in from the FBI probe of the September mass killing of 17 civilians by Blackwater guards in Iraq. The New York Times is reporting investigators have concluded the killings were unjustified and unlawful in the shootings of at least 14 of the victims. The investigation is still underway. Prosecutors have yet to issue indictments amidst ongoing uncertainty over whether Blackwater guards can even be put on trial.
The leading refugee-advocate group Refugees International has issued a scathing critique of the Bush administration’s treatment of displaced Iraqis. In a new report, Refugees International says the U.S. has been “unforgivably slow” in resettling Iraqi refugees. Almost five million Iraqis are believed to have been displaced since the U.S. invasion. The U.S. is admitting more than three times as many Iranian immigrants as it is Iraqis.
In Afghanistan, U.S.-led forces have killed at least two children and a woman civilian in Helmand province. The deaths came in a NATO raid on a suspected militant hideout. The Pentagon says 15 militants were also killed.
In news from Washington, the Justice Department has reopened its probe of the Bush administration’s warrantless spying program. The move comes just days into Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s new tenure. The initial investigation was shut down after Mukasey’s predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, refused to grant investigators security clearances.
President Bush and congressional Democrats are in a new spending dispute on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, Bush vetoed a $600 billion bill to fund education, health and labor programs. Bush says the bill contained too many earmarks for unrelated projects. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Democrats will no longer approve any funding for the Iraq war unless Bush agrees to a timetable for the withdrawal of combat troops by the end of next year. Reid issued the warning as Bush signed a Democrat-approved $460 billion spending bill boosting the Pentagon’s budget by more than 9 percent.
New poll results continue to show strong public support for impeachment. According to the American Research Group, 55 percent of Americans believe President Bush has committed impeachable offenses. Fifty-two percent believe the same for Vice President Dick Cheney. Despite these numbers, a lower 34 percent believe Bush should actually be impeached, with 43 percent supporting the impeachment of Cheney.
New figures show the suicide rate for U.S. veterans is now more than twice as high as it is for non-vets. CBS News reached the conclusion after studying two years of veterans’ death records. The Department of Veteran Affairs recently estimated some 5,000 former servicemembers will take their lives this year. But CBS News calls that an underestimate.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 28,000 people have been displaced following renewed fighting between military and rebel forces in the eastern North Kivu province. U.N. spokesperson Ron Redmond appealed for international aid in what he called a humanitarian crisis.
U.N. spokesperson Ron Redmond: “They’ve been living in extremely difficult conditions anyway. Now they have nothing but what they can carry. These are people in poor health. They’re soaking wet because of torrential downpours. They need shelter. They need food. They need a lot of assistance, and we’re going to have to move quickly to get that help to them, because a lot of them are already in a weakened state.”
Nearly 400,000 people have fled fighting between soldiers and a mix of rebel groups in North Kivu this year.
The U.N. envoy to Burma has put a positive spin on his recent trip to Burma, where he says the situation is improving. Ibrahim Gambari told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday the junta’s crackdown has eased since a mass uprising broke out in September. But he urged the junta to end the house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ibrahim Gambari: “I have stressed to the government that the best way to make real commitment to dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is to release her without delay so that she can become a full partner in the dialogue that we all envisage.”
Back in the United States, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission has officially introduced his plan that would rewrite media ownership laws to allow for greater media consolidation. On Tuesday, Kevin Martin proposed to ease restrictions preventing media conglomerates from owning both newspapers and television stations in the same city. The proposal is set for a commission vote on December 18th.
A former publishing executive at the media conglomerate News Corp. is accusing her former bosses of pressuring her to commit perjury in order to protect the presidential ambitions of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Judith Regan was fired as head of ReganBooks last year in the controversy over aborted plans to publish a book by O.J. Simpson. In a wrongful termination suit, Regan says an executive pressured her to lie to investigators about her affair with former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Giuliani appointed Kerik and later recommended him to head the Department of Homeland Security. According to Regan, News Corp. executives have long sought to promote Giuliani in their vast media holdings. Kerik was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.
An all-female team that represented the United States at this year’s world bridge championships is facing a one-year ban from competition over a spur-of-the-moment protest against President Bush. The championships were held in Shanghai last month. At an awards dinner, one member of the U.S. bridge team held up a sign that read: “We did not vote for Bush.” The United States Bridge Federation says it’s considering a year-long ban of the entire team from future competition.
The Internet giant Yahoo has announced it’s reached a settlement with the families of two Chinese journalists who were jailed after Yahoo passed on their information to the Chinese government. Business journalist Shi Tao and pro-democracy blogger Wang Xiaoning are each serving 10-year sentences. The settlement comes less than a week after top Yahoo execs came under fierce criticism at a congressional hearing. Yahoo did not disclose details of the settlement but said it would provide “financial, humanitarian and legal support” to the families and establish a separate fund for other dissidents.
Here in New York, the New York Police Department is facing a new scandal over the shooting and killing of an unarmed African American. Eighteen-year-old Khiel Coppin died Monday night in a hail of 20 police bullets. He was carrying only a hairbrush. Coppin’s mother had called the police for help following a violent argument with her son. Coppin reportedly had a history of mental illness. According to witnesses, one police officer shouted in vain for the others to stop shooting.
And in other New York news, governor Eliot Spitzer is dropping his proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. The plan had drawn praise from immigrant rights activists but fierce opposition from both Republicans and many Democrats. Spitzer had noted the high number of accidents caused by uninsured drivers and described the policy as a public safety measure that makes licenses and insurance available regardless of immigration status.