A federal appeals court has dealt a major setback to the Bush administration over its power to jail U.S. citizens and legal residents without charge. The court ruled the Bush administration cannot label U.S. residents “enemy combatants” and jail them indefinitely without charge. The ruling came in the case of the only person still held as an enemy combatant on U.S. soil — Ali al-Marri, who was arrested five years ago at his home in Peoria, Illinois. Writing for the majority, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz said authorizing indefinite military detention “would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.” She continued: “We refuse to recognize a claim to power that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.” We’ll have more on the ruling after headlines.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans blocked a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Monday. But more than a majority of the Senate indicated that they no longer had confidence in the attorney general. This is Democratic Senator Charles Schumer from New York.
Sen. Schumer: There is no liberal or conservative or Democratic or Republican position on the attorney general’s lack of independence or commitment to rule of law. It is virtually unanimous.”
Seven Republicans, including Arlen Specter, joined Democrats in allowing the vote to go forward. But the Democrats failed to get the needed 60 votes to end debate and have the vote take place. Independent Joseph Lieberman voted with the Republicans. President Bush said he still has confidence in Gonzales.
President Bush: “They can try to have their vote of no confidence, but it’s not going to determine — make the determination, who serves in my government.”
In Afghanistan, U.S. forces have killed seven Afghan police officers and wounded four others. Afghan officials say the U.S. ground forces mistook the police officers as Taliban fighters.
This comes as the International Red Cross is warning that violence is intensifying throughout Afghanistan. The Red Cross blamed the increased fighting on Taliban militants as well as U.S.-led troops. One official said: “Civilians suffer horribly from mounting threats to their security, such as increasing numbers of roadside bombs and suicide attacks, and regular aerial bombing raids.” The Red Cross said it has become increasingly challenging to carry out humanitarian work outside major cities. Meanwhile, Afghan police have arrested 11 men suspected of being involved in an attempt to kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On Sunday, rockets were fired at a school in the Ghazni province where Karzai was visiting.
A new study estimates the Iraq War will end up costing the United States a total of nearly $2.3 trillion by the year 2016. The estimate is included in a new survey on military spending by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The institute has determined that global military spending topped $1.2 trillion last year. This marks a 37 percent increase over the past 10 years. The U.S. remains by far the biggest military spender and accounts for nearly half of the world’s military spending. Last year the U.S. spent at least $529 billion — more than 10 times what China spent.
In Iraq, for the second time in two days, al-Qaeda fighters have blown up a bridge near Baghdad. Iraqi officials say al-Qaeda is now mounting a campaign to destroy key transportation arteries and other parts of Iraq’s infrastructure.
Iraqi lawmakers have voted to replace the speaker of Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. He was removed after one of his bodyguards beat up another lawmaker. Last year Mashhadani praised Iraqi militants who killed U.S. forces. He said: “I personally think whoever kills an American soldier in defense of his country would have a statue built for him in that country.”
Oil workers in southern Iraq have stopped their week-long strike after Prime Minister Maliki pledged to form a government committee to address their complaints. The oil workers went on strike to protest wages and the planned privatization of Iraq’s oil resources.
A new study has found that the suicide rate of U.S. war veterans is double the rate of ordinary civilians. The study examined data on over 300,000 men dating back to World War II. Disabled veterans or those who had experienced emotional or psychological trauma during their service were identified as the highest risk group.
In other military news, the Army has fallen short of its May recruiting goal. The Army signed up 5,100 soldiers last month — 400 fewer than expected.
Gaza appears to be closer to being engulfed in a civil war. At least 17 Palestinians have died in the past day in intense fighting between Hamas and Fatah. Earlier this morning, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the home of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. It was the third attempt on his life in 24 hours. An officer with Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guard said several mortar bombs also struck the president’s compound in Gaza City. No one was hurt. Both Hamas and Fatah have used websites and text messages to call for the execution of the other side’s military and political leaders. Four people died after a shootout inside a hospital in northern Gaza. In the town of of Beit Lahia, Hamas fighters assassinated one of the most senior Fatah leaders in Gaza, Jamal Abu al-Jedian. He was a co-founder of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Hamas fighters attacked Jedian’s house, dragged him into the street and then shot him 45 times.
In Lebanon, fighting is also continuing between Lebanese troops and Sunni militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp. On Monday, two Red Cross aid workers were killed, and a Palestinian mediator was wounded. At least 132 people have been killed in the past three weeks.
In news from Africa, a group of international judges criticized the treatment of lawyers in Zimbabwe. The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists said it was “shocked” by the extent of government abuse of the legal and judicial system.
Claire L’Heureux-Dubé of the ICJ: “The mission is disturbed that the unjustifiable harassment, detention and beating of lawyers has only increased tensions between the law society and the government. Such treatment is interfering with the proper functioning of the administration of justice, the role of lawyers and their independence, and is making it difficult for lawyers to act for clients viewed by the government as dissidents.”
Nixon Nyikadzino of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition praised the findings of the International Commission of Jurists.
Nixon Nyikadzino: “What the report is basically doing is to prove what we have always said as Zimbabweans who are concerned, that the situation back home is actually deteriorating and getting into an extent whereby we really need a quick and fast intervention, particularly through the initiative that are taking place when President Thabo Mbeki is going to negotiate.”
In Georgia, a state judge has ordered the release of a young African-American man who has been serving a 10-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with another teenager. At the time, Genarlow Wilson was 17 years old, and the girl was 15 years old. Wilson was convicted of felony aggravated child molestation. He has already spent two years behind bars. Since Wilson was convicted, Georgia changed its law on teenage sex. After the judge ordered Wilson’s release on Monday, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker surprised many by appealing the judge’s order. Civil rights leaders condemned the state’s appeal. The Rev. Joseph Lowery wrote a letter to Baker asking: “Where is your conscience, that you would allow this travesty to occur on your watch?”
In Washington, opposition is growing against President Bush’s nominee to become the next surgeon general. The nation’s largest gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, is urging senators to reject the confirmation of Dr. James Holsinger. Holsinger has argued that homosexuality is unnatural and dangerous and that sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice. In 2000, he helped form the Hope Springs Community Church, which has a special program that it claims to “cure” gay men and lesbians. If confirmed as surgeon general, Holsinger would become the country’s chief health educator.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has confirmed it once considered building a chemical weapon that could turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting. Newly declassified documents show the Ohio Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million in 1994 to develop a so-called “gay bomb.”
A new study on media coverage of the Iraq War has found that Fox News has spent far less time covering the war than CNN or MSNBC. The Project for Excellence in Journalism examined the news coverage in the first three months of the year. It found that during daytime news shows, Fox spent only 6 percent of the time discussing the war. CNN spent 20 percent, and MSNBC spent 18 percent.
And the philosopher Richard Rorty has died at the age of 75.