President Bush is expected to nominate retired federal judge Michael Mukasey to be the nation’s next attorney general. Mukasey served as the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan for six years and oversaw the trial of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman and the first World Trade Center bombers. He has been a vocal supporter of the USA PATRIOT Act and recently said the judicial system is “not well suited” to handling terror trials. But Mukasey has also challenged some of President Bush’s war powers. In the case of Jose Padilla, he ruled that President Bush could hold Padilla as an enemy combatant without charge, but he ruled that the government must allow Padilla to see his attorneys. Mukasey is close friends with Rudy Giuliani. Both Mukasey and his son are advisers to Giuliani’s presidential campaign. In 1994 Mukasey swore Giuliani in as New York mayor; the private ceremony took place at Mukasey’s apartment.
The French foreign minister has said the world needs to prepare for the possibility of war against Iran. In an interview, Bernard Kouchner said: “We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.” Kouchner said the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program is “the greatest crisis” facing the world. On Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said all options are on the table when it comes to Iran.
The former head of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, has admitted the war in Iraq was over oil. In his new memoir, Greenspan writes: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Greenspan headed the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006. In his memoir, Greenspan is also highly critical of President Bush’s economic policies.
In Washington, tens of thousands of peace activists marched from the White House to the Capitol on Saturday to protest the war in Iraq. Police arrested around 190 protesters after they took part in a die-in in front of the Capitol. The arrests occurred when protesters started climbing over a barricade at the foot of the steps to the Capitol. Police sprayed at least two people with chemicals. Estimates that nearly 100,000 people attended the rally and march. Student protester Jacob Berger said he traveled to Washington from New York, where he attends Columbia University.
Jacob Berger: “The large problem today is apathy. Most people feel like they can’t make a change in this world. They just feel like it’s too big. And we’re here to prove that we can change. You know, we need to get that sort of rallying together like this, like people did back in Vietnam, and that’s what got us out of Vietnam, and that’s what we are trying to do to get out of Iraq.”
Clint Coleman was part of a contingent of protesters from the Gulf Coast region.
Clint Coleman: “I came up from New Orleans, Louisiana, just to help support the fact that we still need more funds down there for Katrina. We’re still suffering down there in New Orleans. And also I’m a big supporter of getting out of Iraq also, so I thought it would be a great time to come up here and voice my concerns.”
A counter-demonstration was also held by supporters of the war. One prominent peace activist, Carlos Arredondo, was beaten by pro-war activists. Arredondo’s son Alex died in Iraq three years ago. To honor Alex’s memory, Carlos has been crisscrossing the country pulling a flag-draped coffin. He marched with the coffin on Saturday and then left the march to return the coffin to his truck. That’s when a pro-war supporter tried to rip a photo of Carlos’ son from the coffin. When Carlos tried to save the photograph, he said a group of pro-war activists attacked him.
Carlos Arredondo: “I was assaulted by a group of pro-war people. They come into the ground, and they kicked me and punched me. As a citizen of this country, it’s my duty and my responsibility to participate. As a father, who I lost my son in Iraq, I got to honor my son.”
In Louisiana, a state appeals court has overturned the conviction of 17-year-old Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six, but he remains behind bars. Last year Bell and five other African-American high school students were arrested for beating a white student during a schoolyard fight. The fight occurred after white students hung three nooses in a tree in the schoolyard. An all-white jury convicted Bell of aggravated second-degree battery, but on Friday a Louisiana appeals court ruled that Bell should not have been tried as an adult. Bell has been in jail since December and remains locked up after Friday’s ruling. We reached Mychal Bell’s father, Marcus Jones, on Sunday.
Marcus Jones: “Now, we feel like that, you know, there’s a chance of Mychal getting out. We’re just doing — you know, just playing it by ear, as long as they tell us, you know, what takes place with Mychal.”
Prosecutors now have the option of trying Mychal Bell for attempted murder as an adult or aggravated battery as a juvenile. Bell’s five classmates are still awaiting trial. Civil rights groups said they plan to proceed with a major march in Jena on Thursday, the day Bell was originally scheduled to be sentenced.
In news on Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government has been dealt another setback. Thirty Shiite Parliament members loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are leaving Maliki’s ruling coalition.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said American troops will likely remain in Iraq for what he called a protracted period. Gates also backed down on his previous statement that the United States might be able to reduce the size of its force in Iraq to 100,000 by the end of next year. On Friday President Bush visited the Quantico Marine base in Virginia to continue selling his Iraq strategy.
President Bush: “I also made it clear that now’s the chance for us to come together as a nation, that some of us who believe security was paramount were on opposite sides of a debate where people said we just simply need to bring our troops home. Well, now we’ve got security in the right direction, and we are bringing our troops home.”
In Germany, antiwar protesters gathered in Berlin on Saturday to demand the pullout of German troops from Afghanistan. The protest comes ahead of a key parliamentary vote on Germany’s role in the nearly six-year-old war. Speakers at the protest included American peace activist Kelly Campbell of Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
Kelly Campbell: “Despite the foreign troops on the ground in Afghanistan, the security situation is getting worse. Civilians are being killed, and foreign military are being killed at an increasing rate. Reconstruction is not happening. Aid organizations are pulling out. So, clearly a military occupation, which we know is not working in Iraq, is also not working in Afghanistan, and it’s time that we in the U.S. peace movement examine how we’re going to take on these issues.”
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are marking the 25th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Up to 2,000 Palestinians died on Sept. 16 and 17, 1982, when the Israeli military allowed a Christian militia to attack the camp. Israel’s then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was forced to resign after a special Israeli investigative panel declared him to be “personally responsible” for the massacre.
The Independent newspaper of London is reporting NATO chiefs are planning finally to tell the Serbian government where they dropped thousands of cluster bombs during the Kosovo War. Belgrade hopes this could help pinpoint thousands of unexploded munitions that have littered the country for the past eight years. The United States, Britain and Holland are believed to have dropped more than 2,000 cluster bombs — containing 380,000 sub-munitions — during the war.
In business news, Microsoft has lost an anti-trust appeal before Europe’s second highest court and has been ordered to pay a record $690 million fine for abusing its dominance in computer operator systems. The court upheld a 2004 anti-trust ruling from the European Commission.
The European Space Agency has revealed the Arctic’s Northwest Passage has opened up fully because of melting sea ice. This clears a long-sought but historically impassable route between Europe and Asia. Sea ice has shrunk in the Arctic to its lowest level since satellite measurements began 30 years ago.
Fox is being accused of censoring the actress Sally Field at last night’s Emmy Awards. She ended her acceptance speech by saying: “If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn’t be god-damned wars in the first place.” But that’s not what viewers watching on Fox heard. The network cut off Sally Field’s mic mid-sentence.
Sally Field: “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no” —
And the former president of Veterans for Peace, Dave Cline, has died. He was a founding leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.