The Senate Judiciary Committee has vowed to continue its investigation into Karl Rove even after he resigns as President Bush’s top adviser at the end of August. Rove has refused to comply with a Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify about his role in the politicization of the Justice Department and the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. Senator Patrick Leahy said, “Mr. Rove’s apparent attempts to manipulate elections and push out prosecutors citing bogus claims of voter fraud shows corruption of federal law enforcement for partisan political purposes.” Congressman John Conyers said the House Judiciary Committee would also continue to investigate Rove. Hours after Rove’s resignation was reported in The Wall Street Journal, President Bush thanked Rove for his service.
President Bush: “Karl Rove is moving on down the road. I’ve been talking to Karl for a while about his desire to spend more time with Darby and Andrew. This is a family that’s made enormous sacrifices not only for our beloved state of Texas but for a country we both love.”
Karl Rove then praised President Bush.
Karl Rove: “I’ve seen a man of farsighted courage put America on a war footing and protect us against a brutal enemy in a dangerous conflict that will shape this new century. I’ve seen a leader respond to an economy weakened by recession, corporate scandal and terrorist attacks by taking decisive action to strengthen the economy and create jobs. I’ve seen a reformer who challenged his administration, the Congress and the country to make bold changes to important institutions in great need of repair.”
The comptroller general of the U.S. government is warning there are striking similarities between the current situation in the United States and the end of the Roman Empire. In a new report, David Walker said the U.S. is now facing many of the same factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government.” Walker predicted the U.S. is “on a path toward an explosion of debt.” As comptroller general, Walker is in charge of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of Congress.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting the Justice Department is putting the final touches on regulations that would allow Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales to grant states the power to fast-track the execution of death row prisoners. Under the rules, Gonzales could allow prosecutors to shorten the time prisoners have to appeal convictions to federal courts. Advocates for death row prisoners and some legal experts say the rules could increase the chances of the state executing innocent people. Kathryn Kase of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said, “This is the Bush administration throwing down the gauntlet and saying, 'We are going to speed up executions.'”
The Bush administration has designated the Lebanese group Fatah al-Islam as a terrorist organization. For the past 12 weeks the militant group has been engaged in a bloody fight with the Lebanese military at a Palestinian refugee camp. At least 278 people have died, and 40,000 Palestinian refugees have been displaced. Prior to the outbreak in fighting, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh reported that the U.S. and Saudi governments have been covertly backing militant Sunni groups like Fatah al-Islam as part of an overarching foreign policy against Iran and growing Shiite influence in the Middle East.
In media news, a federal judge has ordered five reporters to testify about their sources in the deadly anthrax mailings case after 9/11. The order comes as part of a lawsuit filed by former Army scientist Steven Hatfill. He contends that unnamed sources at the Justice Department and FBI leaked information in an attempt to tie him to the anthrax attacks. The reporters who have been ordered to testify are Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman of Newsweek; Allan Lengel of The Washington Post; Toni Locy, formerly of USA Today; and James Stewart, formerly of CBS News.
Hundreds of environmental activists have begun setting up camp outside Heathrow Airport in Britain to expose the link between aviation and global warming. Protesters are expected to take part in the Camp for Climate Action for the next seven days.
British protester: “Well, it’s the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases, and the British government is intending to expand 31 — no, sorry, 21 different airports around the country. Now if they do that, it’s equivalent to building a new Heathrow every five years, and basically, in the time of climate crisis, that is absolute madness. If they do that, the emissions that they will create from building those airports and expanding those airports is equivalent to our whole quota of what we are supposed to be emitting by 2050. So we use up our whole quota just on aviation before we switch on a single light or before we heat a single room.”
A “day of action” at Heathrow is planned for Sunday. The Guardian newspaper reports armed police plan to use anti-terrorism laws to deal with the climate change protesters. The law gives police powers to stop and search people and vehicles for anything that could be used in connection with terrorism, search people even if they do not have evidence to suspect them, hold people for up to a month without charge, and to search homes.
Meanwhile, here in this country five activists have been arrested in Asheville, North Carolina, during a direct action targeting Bank of America. The protest came at the end of the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action. The activists urged Bank of America to stop investing in coal companies. In recent years, Bank of America facilitated hundreds of million of dollars in loans to companies like Massey Energy and Arch Coal that are involved in mountaintop removal coal mining.
In Rhode Island, a 22-year-old woman has been hospitalized after police in Providence broke up a protest organized by the Industrial Workers of the World. Photographs show the woman, Alexandra Svoboda, was tackled by police. According to the Providence Journal, she has had one surgery to repair the damaged knee and may face another. The protest took place outside a Chinese restaurant named Jacky’s Galaxie. The IWW targeted that restaurant for its alleged ties to the New York distributor DragonLand Trading. Members of the IWW accused DragonLand of forcing its staff to work up to 110 hours per week without basic labor rights.
The State Department is coming under criticism this week for refusing to allow a prominent South African social scientist to enter the country. Adam Habib was scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York, but the government has refused to give him a visa. Habib is executive director of the South Africa-based Human Science Research Council’s Program on Democracy and Governance. He is also a Muslim of Indian descent who has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq. Last October Habib was detained when he arrived at a New York airport for a series of academic meetings in the United States. His visa was revoked without explanation, and he was put on a flight back to South Africa.
A drive-by shooting targeted Pacifica Radio station KPFT in Houston early on Monday morning. A bullet blasted through a Plexiglass window in the station’s studio. At the time of the shooting, Mary Thomas was hosting a zydeco music program. The bullet came within 18 inches of her head. No one was injured in the shooting. Station manager Duane Bradley said the shooting might have been political. Bradley said, “It’s highly likely that, at some point, someone may have heard something that offended them, and they decided to do something about it.” KPFT has been the target of attacks before. Shortly after the Houston station went on the air, the Ku Klux Klan blew up the station’s transmitters with dynamite in 1970 and again in 1971.
And the civil rights pioneer Irene Morgan Kirkaldy has died at the age of 90. More than a decade before Rosa Parks made headlines around the world, Irene Morgan challenged the nation’s Jim Crow laws by refusing to give up her seat on a Greyhound bus to a white couple. Her rebellion led to her arrest, and her case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Two years later in the case Morgan v. Virginia, the court sided with her and declared interstate bus segregation unconstitutional. Her case inspired the first formal “Freedom Ride.” In 1947 an interracial group led by civil rights leader Bayard Rustin traveled by bus and train from Washington, D.C., to Louisville, Ky., to challenge Southern states to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in the case.