The Senate is continuing a marathon debate on a Democratic measure that would begin a withdrawal from Iraq but still leave thousands of troops behind. Democrats forced the chamber into a rare all-night session that began Tuesday morning. The legislation would start a pullout within four months and set a deadline for April of next year. But tens of thousands of troops could remain behind for so-called “anti-terrorism” operations, protect U.S. assets and train Iraqi security forces. Late Tuesday, bill co-sponsor Senator Carl Levin of Michigan addressed a vigil of peace demonstrators outside the Capitol building.
Sen. Carl Levin: “Last November the American people did something which was so dramatic, it was like a typhoon hit this country. They told the Republican Congress that they had enough. They want to end the war in Iraq. It is time to change course. And the reason that we (Democrats) are in control of the Congress is because the American people want us to change course in Iraq.”
Republican leaders have vowed a filibuster. Democrats are expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to break the Senate deadlock. Several Republicans who have criticized the White House on Iraq say they won’t support the measure. Speaking on the Senate floor, former Democrat and current Independent Senator Joe Lieberman said he’ll vote with Republicans.
Sen. Joe Lieberman: “The war in Iraq, if it is to be lost, will be lost as a result of a loss of political will here at home.”
Earlier Tuesday, President Bush also denounced the Democratic legislation and said he would issue a veto if it passed.
President Bush: “Al-Qaeda would have been a heck of a lot stronger today had we not stayed on the offense, and it is in the interest of the United States to defeat them overseas so we don’t have to face them here, but to also spread an ideology that will defeat their ideology every time, and that is the ideology based upon liberty.”
The top investigator leading a probe into the CIA secret prison and kidnapping program in Europe has revealed he obtained information with the help of dissident high-level CIA officials. On Tuesday, Swiss Senator Dick Marty told a Council of Europe committee several acting CIA officials spoke to him out of their own opposition to the program. Marty says they were disturbed the renditions led to the torture and mistreatment of the prisoners.
After a six-year legal battle over White House secrecy, records of Vice President Cheney’s task force on drafting a new energy policy have finally been revealed. The Washington Post reports that by the time environmental groups were finally invited to the White House, Cheney and his staffers had already held at least 40 meetings with energy industry representatives, completed most of an initial draft and even briefed President Bush on their plans. Cheney has refused to release records of the meetings. A former White House official leaked them to The Washington Post. Cheney’s visitors included executives from ExxonMobil, Duke Energy, British Petroleum and lobbyists from several industry groups. Many of the visitors had been major Republican donors, including the former Enron head Kenneth Lay.
The Bush administration is being accused of enlisting the National Drug Control Policy Office to help elect Republican candidates in last year’s midterm elections. On Tuesday, House Oversight Committee Chair Henry Waxman said White House officials used the office to aid many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmembers facing re-election. National drug control officials appeared at events and sometimes announced new grants in the lawmakers’ districts. Federal law prohibits drug agency officials from political activities even on their own time.
In Brazil, nearly 200 people are feared dead after a plane skidded off a runway and crashed into a gas station. All 176 people aboard are feared dead with at least 15 others killed on the ground.
In Pakistan, at least 13 people were killed in a suicide attack on a lawyers’ rally in Islamabad. The protest had been called in support of Pakistan’s chief justice suspended by President Pervez Musharraf earlier this year. A witness described the attack.
Unidentified witness: “It was quite dark so we could not see clearly. There was smoke everywhere. When we reached the spot, we saw pieces of dead bodies. We saw the dead body of a child, of a woman. We could not see any crater in the ground, nor any cracks like you normally see in a planted bomb.”
Meanwhile, violence continues on Pakistan’s northern border with Afghanistan. At least 16 Pakistani soldiers were killed in clashes with militants there earlier today.
In Peru, protests continue against a Chilean supreme court’s rejection of an extradition request for former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. Fujimori faces several corruption and human rights charges, including the killing of political opponents, illegal phone tapping and bribery. On Tuesday, close to a thousand people gathered outside the Chilean Embassy in Lima.
Protest leader Mario Huaman: “(This march) is to repudiate the ruling of Judge Alvarez and ask the Supreme Court to extradite Fujimori.”
A new British parliamentary study says the U.S.-led NATO force is failing to achieve its goals in Afghanistan. The detailed report says the Taliban-led insurgency has strengthened and poppy cultivation is on the rise. Support among Afghan’s civilian population is at new lows amid increasing casualties from U.S.-led airstrikes. More Afghan civilians have been killed in NATO bombings than in Taliban attacks this year.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has finalized its $660 million settlement to 500 victims of clergy sexual abuse. The settlement is the largest in any Roman Catholic diocese. Plaintiffs have voiced a mixed reaction to the deal, which will avoid court testimony for top church officials on how they hid the abuse.
Victim Erin Brady: “Fourteen years ago I went to Cardinal Roger Mahony, and I asked him for two things: one, to pay for therapy, and two, to remove my perpetrator from ministry. Fourteen years later he is paying for my therapy, but he has not removed this man from ministry. He moved him to Napa, California, where he sits today with full access to children.”
And finally, the News Corp. media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is a step closer to owning the Dow Jones & Company and The Wall Street Journal. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones board voted to approve the $5 billion deal. The sale faces a final hurdle with a vote from Dow’s controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family. The Bancrofts initially opposed the deal amidst concerns Murdoch would interfere with the paper’s editorial independence. The union of Wall Street Journal reporters has also opposed a sale to Murdoch.
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