Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for lying to federal prosecutors about his role in the CIA leak case. A jury convicted Libby in March on four felony counts of making false statements to the FBI, lying to a grand jury and obstructing a probe into the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. Administration officials outed Plame after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly challenged the Bush administration’s case for going to war on Iraq. Libby could still avoid serving his prison sentence if President Bush grants him a pardon. On Tuesday, White House officials said the president is not going to intervene for now.
In Baghdad, Iraqi lawmakers have passed a resolution that may force an end to the U.S. military occupation. By an 85-to-59 vote, the Iraqi Parliament passed a binding resolution to require the al-Maliki government consult lawmakers before extending the U.S. military mandate in Iraq. The move was spearheaded by supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as well as several Sunni parties. Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar described the vote as an enormous development. Jarrar reports that lawmakers in Baghdad are planning to block the extension of the coalition’s mandate when it comes up for renewal in six months.
In other Iraq news, the Associated Press reports the U.S. air war in Iraq has greatly intensified in recent months. U.S. aircraft dropped more bombs and missiles in the first four-and-a-half months of 2007 than all of last year. At the same time, the number of civilian Iraqi casualties from U.S. airstrikes appears to have risen sharply.
Meanwhile, the United Nations now estimates 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes because of the Iraq War and U.S. occupation. On Tuesday, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees pleaded for countries to do more to help the refugees.
In New Hampshire, the Republican presidential candidates met for their third debate last night. Issues discussed included the war in Iraq, immigration and U.S.-Iranian relations. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused to rule out attacking Iran with nuclear weapons.
Rudolph Giuliani: “I think it could be done with conventional weapons, but you shouldn’t take any options off the table. And during the debate the other night, the Democrats seemed like they were back in the 1990s. They don’t seem to have got beyond the Cold War. Iran is a nuclear threat, and not just because they can deliver a nuclear warhead with missiles; they are a threat because they are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and they can handle and they can hand nuclear material to terrorists.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney also refused to rule out a nuclear strike against Iran.
Mitt Romney: “You don’t take options off the table. What you do is stand back and say, ’What’s going on here?’ You see what’s happening in Sudan and Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran and all over the world. You see what’s happening, and that is, people are testing the United States of America. And what we have to make them understand, we’re not arrogant. We have resolve and the strength to protect our interests and protect people who love liberty.”
During the Republican debate, President Bush was repeatedly criticized. The audience applauded when Congressman Tom Tancredo said Bush would never darken the doorstep of his White House. Meanwhile, Senator John McCain expressed his continued support for President Bush’s escalation of the war in Iraq.
Sen. John McCain: “I think this strategy needs to be given a chance to succeed. We haven’t barely gotten the Fifth Brigade over there, which is part of this strategy. I am convinced that if we fail and we have to withdraw, they will follow us home, and it will be a base for al-Qaeda, and we will be facing greater challenges and greater sacrifices.”
In other campaign news, the presidents of two large labor unions have written to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to complain about ties between her chief strategist, Mark Penn, and union-busting efforts. In a letter to Clinton, James Hoffa of the Teamsters and Bruce Raynor of UNITE HERE criticized the anti-union activities of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, which is headed by Penn.
In Germany, police arrested 57 protesters on Tuesday ahead of President Bush’s arrival for the G8 summit. About 400 demonstrators with anti-G8 signs tried to block one of the road exits from Rostock airport shortly before Bush landed. They held banners reading “Bush is a murderer” and shouted “Yankee go home.”
Meanwhile tensions remain high between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Bush administration’s plan to station a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. On Tuesday China joined Russia in denouncing the system. China warned it could result in a new arms race. President Bush visited the Czech Republic on Tuesday and defended his plans.
As the world leaders prepare to discuss solutions to global warming at the G8 meeting, more warnings are coming from the scientific community about climate change. A new United Nations report has determined that Greenland’s ice cap is already melting at alarming rates and that the temperatures in polar regions are expected to rise twice as fast as the global average in coming decades. This is Koni Steffen of the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Koni Steffen: “Warmer temperatures in spring, warmer temperatures in fall made the melting period in Greenland much longer. Therefore we see more and more melt water flowing off the ice sheet into the ocean and decreasing the reflection of the sun, which has a feedback. We call it a positive feedback mechanism, and we have seen that over the last 15 years there is a steady increase of melt from the ice sheet.”
Koni Steffen said the melting ice caps could have dire effects on sea levels.
Koni Steffen: “If you take, for example, this glacier, Jakobshavn Isbrae, and you take the volume of these icebergs that are breaking off every two to three days — they are breaking off constantly, but let’s take the volume of two to three days’ iceberg — this is enough fresh water for the entire city of New York for one year.”
Two more Palestinians have died in a pair of Israeli attacks in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank town of Hebron, Israeli troops killed an 80-year-old man in a house raid. In Gaza, an Israeli airstrike killed one man.
The killings occurred as Palestinians and Israelis marked the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: “Even if June (the Six-Day War) went down in history as marking the defeat of the Arabs by Israel, our standing up to this defeat, in spite of the hardships, could make up for what we have lost in war. Perhaps we can even erase it from memory with a great achievement: putting an end to the occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, creating our independent state, recovering our Jerusalem, solving the refugee problem in a just and acceptable manner, based on legitimate international resolutions.”
Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Israeli peace activists gathered to protest the existence of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli peace activist: “We have the right to say that this situation has to be stopped. It means occupation has to be stopped. There is an option of solution, of two-state solution: withdraw from territories, two capitals in Jerusalem. And we think that we have to do everything to stop this terrible situation.”
On Capitol Hill, Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called on the White House to work with the Democratic-controlled Congress in order to craft a new legal framework for the military tribunals at Guantanamo. Leahy’s call came one day after military judges dismissed war crimes charges against two prisoners. Leahy said: “The place to start is by restoring the hallmark of justice known as the great writ of habeas corpus.”
Meanwhile in Canada, the family of Omar Khadr said they were overjoyed after learning that charges were dropped against him. Omar Khadr has been held at Guantanamo since he was 15 years old. He was first detained in Afghanistan.
Zaynab Khadr, sister of Omar Khadr: “I think they’re going to find another way to recharge him, but at least they found the loop — a hole in the loop, and they’re trying something else. We’re moving on, maybe not the way we’d like it to move or not as fast as we’d like it to move, but it’s moving.”
Reporters asked Omar Khadr’s sister about how her brother is doing.
Zaynab Khadr: “His letters seem to portray him — he’s doing OK, a lot more mature than he used to be. I mean, he was 15! He’s telling us to be strong, and he’s telling us to hang in there, and he’s telling us to have faith. Physically, going to the lawyer and a lot of people who are seeing him as that, well, it’s having its toll on him. I mean, who wouldn’t it have its toll on? He was almost dead when they took him, and it has a heavy toll on a completely perfectly healthy man, and he was a child, so…”
A new study on the effects of media consolidation has revealed that women and minorities own a shrinking percentage of the nation’s commercial radio stations. According to the group Free Press, women own just 6 percent of all full-power commercial stations nationwide, and racial or ethnic minorities own just less than 8 percent. The study also found these stations are more likely to broadcast local content and diverse programming than ones owned by white men.
And in Jackson, Mississippi, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan is on trial for murdering two black teenagers in 1964. James Ford Seale was first arrested shortly after the killings, but the charges were thrown out after the FBI turned the case over to local authorities. The Justice Department reopened the case two years ago. On Tuesday, a cousin of Seale named Charles Marcus Edwards testified that he and Seale had abducted and attacked the black teenagers. Edwards said Seale and other Klansmen then drove the teenagers across the Louisiana border. They put duct tape over the mouths of the teenagers and then dumped them into the Mississippi River alive. The victims, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, were both 19 years old. Their bodies were found about two months later, when authorities were conducting an intensive search for slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, who disappeared from central Mississippi’s Neshoba County on June 21, 1964.