Iraqi lawmakers have released new details of Bush administration demands in talks over a long-term compact between Iraq and the United States. The negotiations are being held before the UN mandate authorizing the US occupation expires next month. According to the McClatchy Newspapers, Iraqi parliamentarians say the US has demanded control of at least fifty-eight military bases, as well as Iraqi airspace up to 30,000 feet. The fifty-eight US bases would nearly double the current total of around thirty bases. In what could be seen as a threat to Iran, the lawmakers also say the US has demanded rights that would effectively allow it to decide if another country is committing aggression against Iraq. The Bush administration does not consider its invasion and occupation an act of aggression against Iraq. But it’s repeatedly accused Iran of intervening in Iraq’s affairs. Iraqi lawmakers say they’ve rejected these proposals. The Independent of London reported last week US officials are leveraging tens of billions of dollars in seized Iraqi assets to push through its demands, which also include complete immunity for American soldiers and contractors. A leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq called the US proposals “more abominable than the occupation.” The lawmaker, Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, said, “Now we are being asked to sign for our own occupation. That is why we have absolutely refused all that we have seen so far.”
On Capitol Hill, Democratic Congressmember Dennis Kucinich has introduced thirty-five articles of impeachment against President Bush. On Monday, Kucinich took to the House floor to accuse President Bush of war crimes and deceiving the public in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “All of these actions by the President and his agents and subordinates exhibit a disregard for the truth and a recklessness with regard to national security, nuclear proliferation and a global role of the United States military that is not merely unacceptable, but is dangerous in a commander-in-chief.”
Kucinich introduced a similar resolution against Vice President Dick Cheney last year. The measures have come in defiance of Democratic Party leadership, which has declared impeachment “off the table.”
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the Bush administration’s role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. McClellan was asked to appear over his assertion in a new book that top White House aides deliberately misled him about their role in the leak of Plame’s identity. McClellan is expected to testify next week.
On the campaign trail, Democratic Senator Barack Obama kicked off his presidential campaign Monday as the presumptive Democratic nominee with a call for a new tax on windfall oil profits. Obama addressed supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Senator Barack Obama: “I’ll shut down the corporate loopholes and tax havens, and I’ll use the money to help pay for a middle-class tax cut that will proved $1,000 of relief — $1,000 of relief — to 95 percent of workers and their families. I’ll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we’ll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills.”
Obama’s pledge came as the price for gas reached a record-high $4 a gallon.
In Bolivia, thousands of people rallied outside the US embassy Monday amidst rumors the Bush administration has offered asylum to former top officials accused in a mass killing of protesters. Former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, former Defense Minister Carlos Sanchez Berzain and another former minister, all living in the United States, are wanted for their roles in the Black February crackdown five years ago. Sixty-seven people were killed and more than 400 wounded. Last week, new controversy erupted after Berzain told a Bolivian radio station he had been offered asylum to remain in the United States. A Bolivian protester said the accused should be returned home to face trial.
Protester: “We want justice. We want Goni, Sanchez Berzain and all the crooks in the United States to be kicked out of the country. We know how to get them. We know what to do. We want justice. Look, Black February went unpunished by the courts, and they want to do this just the same. We can’t allow injustice here in Bolivia.”
The US embassy in La Paz has refused to confirm or deny if Berzain has been granted asylum, calling it a private immigration matter.
In Italy, a group of demonstrators gathered outside the main prison in Rome Monday in advance of a visit by President Bush. The Italian government has come under criticism for clearing space at the prison to make room for protesters expected to rally against Bush when he arrives on Wednesday. Federica Fratini of World Without War said the Italian government is unfairly cracking down on dissent.
Federica Fratini: “We believe we have a right to demonstrate, and we are nonviolent. This has really made us laugh, so we have come here to show that we are
already ready if they want to arrest us.”
Bush is currently in Slovenia on the first stop of his European tour.
A new study shows global military spending has increased by nearly 50 percent over the last decade, with the United States accounting for half the total rise. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says governments spent more than $1.3 trillion on arms and other military costs last year. US spending also accounted for nearly half, at almost $550 billion.
As military spending rises, a new study shows the number of Americans lacking adequate healthcare has increased by 60 percent in the last four years. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the number of American adults deemed “underinsured” rose from 16 million in 2003 to 25 million last year. Taken together with the number of uninsured, at least 75 million Americans now go without healthcare for at least part of the year. On average, healthcare premiums have risen 91 percent since 2000, compared with just a 24 percent increase in wages.
And Democratic Senators have introduced a measure to bar the Pentagon’s domestic propaganda program. In April, the New York Times revealed the Pentagon has used retired military officers to generate positive news coverage and push for the war in Iraq. On Monday, Senators John Kerry, Robert Menendez, Byron Dorgan and Frank Lautenberg introduced a bill that would end the program and order a probe by both the Pentagon inspector general and the congressional investigative body, the Government Accountability Office. A similar House measure was introduced last month.